Although most, if not all, Jewish holiday meals use certain foods and dishes to symbolize various elements of the celebration, the seder meal does so in a way that is integral to the ritual of the meal itself. From the maror to the zeroah, each has its place in the structure of the seder. Of all these symbolic foods, charoset is definitely my favorite and I have to agree with Gil Marks when he says in the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food that it “is unquestionably the most flavorful and arguably everyone’s favorite of the seder foods.”
Recently in The Forward, Jay Michaelson compared four characters from “Glee” to the “Four Children” from the Passover seder tradition. What I loved about the piece was Michaelson’s point that for young Jews, Jewish identity is one variable in a multi-variable identity that youth will embrace, when and if they find it meaningful. What bothered me about the piece was the language Michaelson used describing Rachel Berry, the analogous “Wise Child,” as an “irritating control freak” and “intolerable.” It was particularly difficult to read this because, well, I used to be Rachel Berry.
In collaboration with JewishBoston.com, JWA are putting the finishing touches on a new Haggadah that highlights women's voices. (Keep an eye out for it next week.) As we've been thinking about seders and traditions and the different ways we could include women's voices in the Haggadah we're creating, I wanted to hear more from you about your traditions and how you include women's voices.
How many kids growing up in Baltimore City in the 1950s celebrated Passover on a dairy farm? How many little girls hunted for the afikomen in a house that had once been home to slaveholders? How many children heard the sounds of cows mooing when they opened the door for Elijah? Not too many, I reckon, but for the first 15 years of my life, our family seders were held on the dairy farm owned by my Great Aunt Sarah Mahr.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a rock-star of Jewish feminism, delivered a speech called “The Ten Plagues According to Jewish Women,” at the Downtown Seder on March 25 in Manhattan. An adaptation of this speech has been published on The Sisterhood blog, and it is fabulous. Pogrebin goes through each of the 10 Plagues and demonstrates how each symbolizes a problem facing Jewish women today.