While Game of Thrones has been warning that “Winter is Coming,” you’ve seen the matzah displays at your local supermarket, so while Jon Snow knows nothing, you know the truth: Passover is coming. And whether you host your own seder or attend someone else’s–or however you mark this holiday–there are ways to delve into the themes, issues and ideas that make Passover meaningful.
The central theme of Passover is freedom and redemption from slavery. And while most of you are probably not making bricks without straw–as the ancient Egyptians demanded the Hebrew slaves do in Egypt–there may be other areas in your lives where you feel enslaved to something. Egypt’s name in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which has the same letters as the word “meitzarim,” meaning “narrow places”: Passover is about moving through a narrow tunnel of strife and emerging, free, on the other side.
And even if you’re fine and free in your own life, you probably know someone who isn’t: a friend, relative or community member, or a neighbor or a stranger, people who struggle to gain control over their lives, their families and their future.
The seder sets the stage–or, more accurately, the table–for us to explore the concepts of slavery, freedom and liberation, and to talk about past injustices to create a more just present and future. Haggadot.com, a terrific resource in general for all kinds of ideas for your seder, has a great collection of readings in “Haggadah for Justice”. Selections in this Haggadah come from organizations that are doing real justice work every day: American Jewish World Service, T’ruah, the Religious Action Center, MAZON and more.
Since the ritual elements of the Seder are the same every year, it’s important to make your Seder relevant and engaging. However you celebrate, we hope that you and your families have a meaningful holiday.
All about that seder food? The New York Times Cooking section has a massive and mouth-watering array of Passover recipes (and there’s even a section for vegetarians), which you can check out here.
If seders aren’t your thing, maybe you’ll enjoy this Passover playlist from PJ Library, featuring classical and contemporary music appropriate for the Festival of Freedom.
And for a crash course on the holiday, check out writer and friend of Hebrew Helpers Esther Kustanowitz in this fun video:
Esther D. Kustanowitz is a writer, editor and consultant based in Los Angeles.
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