April 5, 2010
Just got back in from a great weekend in Los Angeles. As many of you know it was passover this week and unfortunately because of my class schedule i wasn’t able to make it back for sedar on Monday or Tuesday, so my family threw a sedar on Saturday night. Now I don’t mean to put down other sedar’s but ours is no regular sedar, it is a fun big party with some tradition and great food thrown in. We use the Gindi Haggadah, which is targeted for families (i.e. children who can’t sit through long sedars and need them to be fun) and eventhough the youngest at our sedar this year was 16 we still love it! (Obama actually used a personalized version of this haggadah at his sedar!) We aren’t great cooks, but my mom and I make an amazing charoset, and the rest is pot lucked and catered by Junior’s in Los Angeles.
We try to make our sedar both fun and socially relevant. Sedar is the story of exodus- freedom from oppression. Now there is controversy over the historical accuracy of the story, my friend who is studying Egyptian art at UCLA told me that there is no historical evidence proving that we were ever in Egypt, never mind slaves there, and there is hard historical facts that the pyramids were built by well taken care of workers. I was shocked as I had never heard that before, but after some poking around online it seems like she is completely right and this whole story may be untrue. I’ll address this more in later posts during the week.
Whether or not we were ever slaves the message of freedom from oppression is still a very important one and is something to celebrate and work for each year. We include contemporary texts as supplements to our haggadahs to show people how we can apply these ancient lessons to our modern lives.
We also believe in having a little fun with it and we embrace our inner child and sprinkle the table with the 10 plagues and then every person at the table gets to help act it out. It keeps the story fun and fresh and gets everyone involved. We cover the table in frog eraser toys and also have people put on dark sunglasses for darkness, tip over cow figurines for blight, and poor die into water to represent the Nile turning to blood just to name a few.
My favorite part of the sedar since I was a child has always been searching for the afikomen. The afikomen is a piece of matzah that is hidden somewhere in the house during sedar and after the meal all the kids go looking for it and then ransom it back to the adults for a prize. When I was younger the prizes would be fun gifts like puzzles or toys, but as we got older my parents had to rethink the prize system. Many families will give money as a prize when older children are involved, and while that is fun, my parents decided to try a little social experiment a few years that we have all come to love and look forward to. Instead of just giving us money to keep they give us a certain amount of money for the afikomen that the winner then gets to choose to donate to a charity of his/her choice. They decided though that it would be better for the kids to have a dialogue then just one person deciding the outcome, so they also hide little pieces of paper representing various amounts of money around the house, when those are all found we come together and choose one or more charities to give them to. We’ve been doing it for over 5 years now and the “kids” have ranged from 16 year olds to late 30’s. Each year some of the other adults chip in extra money and we end up with a substantial sum to give away. It is important on a holiday where we celebrate freedom to give to those who are still not free- which can mean anything from poverty to disease or oppression. This year my friend Bryan found the afikomen and gave the money to the group to decide together where all the money should go. We ended up donating to the Lamp Community, UNICEF, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, and Make A Wish Foundation.
Every religion has some celebration of Spring, no matter what your beliefs are Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal and its good to celebrate it with friends and family, give thanks for what we have and help those who are in need. I hope everyone has good Passovers, Easters, Earth Days or whatever else you do to celebrate the sun being back out. Personally I’m going to go for a walk in the park with Rheana and soak up the sun!