is a Time of Celebration
writing this shortly after attending a Passover Seder and
with the idea that not everyone knows what that is. I visited
the website www.virtualjerusalem.com in order to have the
salient facts correct.
I was growing up, we always had the Passover Seder at my
Uncle Erry’s. It was a time of family and fun. My
Aunt Renee would always cook enough for an army and the
food was delicious. There are certain specific foods that
are used in the actual Seder.
Passover Seder (meaning order) is probably the most celebrated
and beloved of Jewish home rituals. Most Jews have cherished
memories of past family times spent at a seder. It is believed
that the obligation to tell the story of the Exodus was
observed by Jews' ancestors ever since the actual Exodus
itself. The scriptural command (Exodus 13:8) to tell the
story of the exodus to our children is interpreted as a
positive commandment (mitzvah).”
though my Uncle Erry is very old, we don’t trace our
family traditions back quite that far. More recently I have
attended Seder’s with Herman at friend’s homes
and at the Synagogue. While these times each have a special
memory, there’s nothing like your own family’s
foods, recipes and traditions.
are some essential elements to the Seder that underlie the
retelling of the Exodus. The three fundamental patterns
of the Seder are the family, the individual, and the nation.
As a home event involving the full family as well as guests,
the Seder draws together all age groups. It requires the
participation of the old and the young. On the individual
level, the Seder requires every participant to feel as though
he or she personally left Egypt. The national pattern of
the Seder symbolizes the first step toward the final redemption
from the slavery and the formation of the Jewish nation
that did not exist as a nation before Exodus from Egypt.
"script" for this central ritual of Passover is
the Haggadah (literally, "telling"). It contains
questions and answers, stories, show and tell, song, food
as reward and symbol, pathos, and suspense. The creation
of this script took place over hundreds of years.
The Seder takes place following the Passover evening synagogue
service on the first two nights of Passover. There are a
number of symbols that occur throughout the Seder, but perhaps
the focal point of the whole event is the Seder plate. It
contains a roasted shankbone, symbolizing the Pesach sacrifice
in the Temple, a roasted egg symbolizing either the spring
season or mourning (for the destruction of Jerusalem), maror
(bitter herbs) to represent the bitter experience of the
Hebrew slaves, haroset (a mixture of apples, nuts, raisins,
spices, wine) symbolizing the mortar the Hebrew slaves used
to build for the Egyptians, and karpas (parsley, celery,
or another green vegetable) symbolizing the green of spring.
The table must also have three pieces of matzah, each piece
used for a different purpose, usually held in a special
pouch made to be used during the Seder.
Seder service has a clear order, with each of 14 steps representing
a different phase of the Seder. Together, they serve to
teach the lesson of the Exodus, God's saving the Jewish
people from slavery. Much of the Seder discussion focuses
on God's might and the Divine role in redemption.
Another special part of the Seder is the extra cup of wine
left on the table for Elijah. The suspense and excitement
engendered by sending a child to open the door for the prophet
who will be a harbinger of messianic times is almost electric.
The chanting of the song Dayenu ("it would have been
enough"), a joyous recognition of God's numerous gifts
to us in the course of the Exodus, is another highlight.
Every Jew will have his or her own special memories of a
past family Seder, but it is unquestionably among the greatest
of our yearly rituals.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Suffice it
to say, this has always been a great holiday for me. I hope
this helps you understand a little more about this important
Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career
in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues free lance writing from
Caroga Lake here in Fulton County. Previous columns may be
accessed at her web site www.kathrynskorner.com"