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a personal passover
by Joanna Piatek |
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For traditional Jews, Passover commemorates the ancient biblical story of the Jewsí escape from slavery in Egypt. The holiday begins with the Seder, an elaborate evening meal for which the whole family gathers. The dinner follows a complex series of rituals that are scripted in the Haggadah, literally translated as "the telling". The Haggadah tells us when to ask questions, fill our wineglasses, and eat the matzos, and at the same time, recounts the stories of Moses and the Pharaoh, the 10 plagues, and the parting of the Red Sea. The focal point of the Passover holiday, the Seder is a celebration of Jewish unity, family, and the passing down of tradition.

All of this Iíd grown up knowing, but though Iíd been to Seders almost every year of my life, Iíd never before really thought about what Passover meant Ė not just for Jews, but in the greater context of the whole world.    For Haggadah scripts and more information about the Passover tradition, check out:

In thinking over these traditions, Iíve been reminded again that above all, Passover is a joyous holiday, a celebration of freedom from slavery. And as we celebrate, we take note that not everyone in the world is so lucky. We remember the countries at war, battling over boundaries or religion, and we think of the children, enslaved by poverty and sickness. We remember the women of the world, enslaved by prostitution. And itís these thoughts, concerning the universal human right to freedom, which fill my head as I ponder the meaning of Passover. And what Iíve realized is that at its core, Passover is a holiday that transcends religion.

Which is why this year, Iím planning my first Seder. Whether this means Iím a "real "Jew or not, Iím still uncertain, but I do know that come April 8th, Iíll be taking part in a very ancient tradition along with millions of people around the world. Iíll throw a great dinner complete with four glasses of sticky sweet wine, fabulous food and a thought to world peace and freedom. And as I sit at my table sharing food, wine, and celebration with friends, Iíll feel connected Ė to my family, to the many people the world over who share this culture, to those long-ago ancestors who found their freedom and passed that gift to me, and to the others still who have yet to find freedom for themselves. And I hope that during the week of Passover you too, Jewish or not, will try your hand at a Seder and use that time to remember those around the world still enslaved.

how to host your own Seder 


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