The Journey Continues, Ma’yan’s haggadahLit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history., is being used for communal women’s seders all over North America, with close to 40,000 having been sold to date. After being translated into Russian, it was used at some 100 seders in the former Soviet Union in 2005. The various seders have ranged in size from 20 to 500.
Here are some of the ideas users have submitted about how to enrich communal feminist seders.
- Have children from local day and religious schools make ritual objects for the table (matzahThe unleavened bread eaten on Passover that recalls the Israelite's hasty escape from Egypt when there was no time for the dough to rise. Matzah is also considered the "bread of our affliction," eaten while we were slaves. covers, sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. plates, and the like)
- Reach out to other organizations to co-sponsor seders. Congregations should think about local Hillel chapters and seniors’ residences
- Hold a kumsitz (songfest) prior to seder to familiarize people with seder music
- Ask people to bring their own ritual objects (seder plates, candlesticks, cups, etc.) for the tables and then share the significance of these objects
- Encourage mother-daughter participation or other inter-generational groups
- Ask each sponsoring organization to nominate several women for the four cups, display the women’s pictures and information about them in a communal space, and then choose four women from this group for the four cups
- Have young people from local day and religious schools lead the singing
- Insert into the haggadah a list of organizations and places for women to volunteer their time throughout the year
- Ask women to share meaningful personal PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). experiences
- Encourage and facilitate the establishment of ongoing women’s study groups as an outgrowth of the seder
- Ask women to take home parts of the haggadah to use in their home seders
- Study biblical texts on the midwives at the portion of the haggadah entitled “Go Out and Study”
- Be creative about making the seders participatory: assign readings ahead of time, designate table “captains” to organize table readings
For more about how to plan and hold a communal women’s seder, call Ma’yan for Ma’yan’s Guide to Planning a Communal Feminist Seder (212)580-0099 ext. 232 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.