Four new questions for the Passover seder

Tomorrow night, Jews all over the world will sit down for a Passover seder. Some of us will listen to our grandfathers mumble through the hagaddah, and others will incorporate new rituals, like Miriam’s Cup and putting an orange on the seder plate – signs of how feminism has transformed Jewish ritual life.

To get us in the spirit of the holiday, I’m proposing a variation on the Four Questions. This year, I’m thinking less about difference (“Why is this night different from all other nights?”) and more about why certain things have changed so little:

  1. Why is “JAP” still such a popular put-down?

  2. When will movies and/or tv shows start showing Jewish men dating Jewish women? (Ross Geller can’t be the only Jewish man attracted to a Jewish woman!)

  3. When will people stop thinking it’s only important for girls – and not boys – to learn about Jewish women’s history?

  4. Why on this holiday, with its theme of liberation, are most seders still led by men and served by women?

Have any to add to the list? Please share them, and bring these or others to your own seder.

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I still remember the seder where I was introduced to the story behind the orange for the first time - three times - each different, and all folk variants of what I later discovered to be true. I still use the handout I created to try to capture the tales -

It is important to incorporate the feminine aspect of Judaism as women play a huge role in the Passover as well.

For a variety of reasons, Jewish men have decided that non-Jewish women make more suitable dating partners. Movies and television merely reflects that present reality.

This takes me back a few years to the last seder we did when my Bubbe was alive. As the Grandson who is also a Feygele, I helped make the food, and supplied a haggadah from the Reconstructionist Congregation I'm a member of. My uncle of all people had to ask why I wanted to use a different one from the one we always used...My answer was that I felt as Modern jews, I did not like the male dominated God-language, and wanted something more egalitarian.

Thank you for these. I will bring them to my seders. The fourth one especially struck a cord. We're hosting both seders at our place this year. Just the other day, my husband told me that his mother took him aside and asked that on the second night he, his father and brother lead the seder, "like old times." Nobody thought to ask me! Last year, when we hosted seder, Jason and I led it together -- and by all accounts it was wonderful. So yes, why is it that I will spend days cooking and cleaning to host everyone at my table, but then no one thinks twice that I might want to lead the seder in my home?

How to cite this page

Rosenbaum, Judith. "Four new questions for the Passover seder." 11 April 2006. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on October 4, 2023) <>.

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