Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, is a time when we are asked to examine the relationship between freedom and social responsibility. Reflecting on this, Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, founder of the Reconstructionist Movement in Judaism, wrote:
When we look to God as the Power that makes for freedom, we expect that humanity will have no rest until we put an end to the order of social living, which makes it possible for a human being to be drudging and slaving for aims in which he or she has no part or parcel.
By choosing to make the rituals and traditions of Pesach part of our lives, we affirm our freedom and maintain our unbroken tie to the generations that preceded us and are yet to follow. We are reminded of our responsibility to our community and to our nation to constantly strive to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants. The symbolism of ridding our homes — the origin of “spring cleaning” — of all products that are subject to leavening is a reminder that we should not inflate our own egos.
At the beginning of the Passover ceremonial meal we announce, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” By this pronouncement, we reinforce our joint responsibility to feed the hungry and provide shelter to the homeless. Passover is a time for family and friends to gather, and in our “togetherness,” we are reminded that no single individual can solve all the problems that face our society, but that by joining together we can begin the task.
I would like to suggest a few ideas that may help you make your Pesach Seder more comfortable and interesting. Remember that Pesach is not Yom Kippur! You don’t get extra points for not eating before the telling of the story is finished and dinner is served. In fact, the Talmud recommends putting a bowl of nuts and raisins on the table so that children and others can snack while the Haggadah is being read. So, taking allergies into consideration, cut up veggies or other small snacks and strategically place bowls of fruit around the table to nash, or snack, on. Give younger children paper and crayons or colored pencils and ask them to draw pictures of the story that is being told to show to everyone. Older children can be asked to dramatize the story or write a rap that tells the story. Use your imagination!
Central Syngogue – Beth Emeth wishes all our friends and neighbors a meaningful holiday and a liberating Passover!
Rabbi Elliot Skiddell served as Rabbi of Reconstructionist Congregation Beth Emeth since August 2006, and since 2016, now oversees all aspects of education for the entire Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth community.