Passover has a weird reputation. Did you know that? Well it does. The story is one that everyone knows. But the food? Oy. The food. For those who know and eat this every year, it is not the best - although that is self-imposed, because I can cook like a champ. And Passover only gets rid of the carbs. Not the end of the world - but everyone still complains about it. Jews hate matzoh and non-Jews think it is delicious. But then they go home and eat chicken nuggets and tater tots... But I digress.
Passover is one of the most well known stories in Jewish traditions. It is the retelling of the exodus from Egypt. From slavery to freedom. From oppression to redemption.
So my family. Let me tell you about our traditions. Growing up we did the whole traditional Passover. We sat around the table and read the Haggadah (the book). We did the whole traditional boring Passover complete with kids who misbehave. Then we moved to Connecticut. And it continued for another few years.
Then my mother completed her course in GENIUS. I am pretty sure she has a Doctorate in it. But I was a kid and I didn't pay attention.
Focus. Again. Passover. Genius. She decided that we should use more imagination and move the Seder from the dining room table to the living room, under the "tent." We hung canopies from the ceiling (years ago) and we feel like we are in the desert coming from Egypt and towards our redemption and freedom. We began using the Haggadah more like a program and stopped reading the whole book.
We do so many things that are not the norm. We play games to help us better understand the message. We play BINGO, Scattergories, ask the 4 Questions in every "language" we speak. We have to put the actual story back in order - all 60 lines.
Originally we did these things to keep us kids on task and paying attention. We designed the Seder in our family to cater to the younger generations.
Just as we grew up. Our Seder has been growing up. Over the years, we have played fewer games. We have been asking more challenging and pertinent questions. We have been learning to be Jewish adults. This year we had a 95% adult Seder. We didn't play any games officially (we played the ghost version - you know as if we were still playing, but we weren't) and this year we had a theme.
REDEMPTION. Mom said there are three themes to the Torah. Creation, redemption, and revelation. Of the three themes, two of them happen to us without our consent. God makes that decision and it happens. God creates us and God gives us the Torah whether or not we are interested in it. However, she pointed out that we have to work for redemption. We have to take ourselves out of Egypt. We have to ask for help and work to complete it. So this year we talked about our personal redemptions. Matt explained that his was helping students. He works in a low SES school and he helps them achieve in high school to help them towards higher education. I understand that. Another person explained that her redemption was asking for help and being strong enough to ask for help. That is hard to do.
My personal redemption is similar. My redemption comes not from asking for help, but in being receptive to it once I have asked for it. I am not very good at taking advice. Ever. I don't like to be told what to do. I like to think for myself and make my own mistakes. My personal redemption comes from asking for advice and then LISTENING to it and really taking it in without getting on the defensive.
It was a lot to think about. And even though I knew the question ahead of time (and others did not) I could not come up with a response that quickly. I wanted to process it and make it meaningful for me.
Throughout the evening we also talked about, explained, and debated some of the details of the Seder. The Seder always ends with "Next year in Jerusalem" and we discussed the meaning. Did it mean physically? Spiritually? Is is a metaphor? Does it discredit Jews living in the diaspora? Or is it about survival? It could be any of these or something entirely different.
Next year may we be in Jerusalem. And may we work all year to redeem ourselves in our own eyes.