Why, on this night, do we include women's voices?


Passover poll
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People share their ways of including women's voices at Passover in JWA's Facebook poll.

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.

This week I posted a Facebook poll asking people to share how they include women in their seders. Originally, I put three options to choose form: Miriam's Cup, an orange on the seder plate, and singing Debbie Friedman's Miriam's Song. Over the week, people have taken the poll and shared it with their friends. They also added seven more ways to feature women's voices.

So far, the most popular way to include women is Miriam's Cup with 33 votes. In next place is putting an orange on the seder plate with 20 votes. Seventeen women lead their own seder, and 14 use commentaries by women. Twelve votes for singing Debbie Friedman's Miriam's Song, three votes for using a women's haggadah, two votes for emphasizing the roles of women in earning redemption from Egypt, one vote for giving a Shifra and Puah award, and of course, one person voted for "None." (Ten points for being honest.)  People could vote for more than one at a time, and it was pretty common for folks to choose two or three ways they include women's voices at their seder. Pretty cool. The poll is still open, cast your vote!

I was curious about the Shifra and Puah award, something I had not yet heard of. Shifra and Puah were two midwives who defied Pharoah's order to murder all Hebrew male babies born in Egypt. These women are important figures, perhaps responsible for beginning the cycle of protest against Pharoah that led to the Exodus. Visit jwa.org to learn more about Shifra and Puah's role, and the stories of American Jewish women who practiced midwifery at the turn of the 20th Century. 

I contacted the person who added the Shifra and Puah award and learned that it was given at Brandeis Hillel in the late '70s during the height of the Soviet Jewry movement. The Shifra and Puah award was given to someone who had taken a risk and engaged in civil disobedience to fight injustice. 

I love this idea and am excited to incorporate it into my seder tradition. It's always exciting to learn about new Passover traditions and I hope you will add yours to our Facebook poll, or share them in the comments.

Rising Voices


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