Posted by: A Part of the Solution | March 26, 2010

I’m Having a Seder

This morning I was down in the cellar fetching flour for the sourdough bread in process. I noticed we had both a rack of lamb and a whole, organic chicken in the fridge. How could I miss the obvious conclusion? We have parsley for the karpas. We have apples and walnuts and ginger for the charoset. We have horseradish and romaine lettuce for the maror. We were out of eggs anyway, so they’re incoming on the next foraging expedition. And I’ve got my heart set on the fabulous Sephardic Lemon Tart from the Lutece cookbook.

I’ve asked an incoming guest to bring two boxes of matzo up. With those I can make the tart, the balls for the soup, and set the table with enough matzo to get us through the abbreviated ritual we’ll attempt. I just adore a Hillel sandwich, so I won’t mind having leftovers.

Because of my guest roster, I’m going to have it a day early–Sunday evening instead of Monday. I love Seders. Growing up in the Episcopal church, I developed an early appreciation for the cycles of ritual and the liturgical calendar. I’ve fallen away from the church, but I’ve kept the habit of celebrating recurring events across the course of the year.

Some of my best friends are Jewish, and I’ve been a guest at Seders for decades. Possibly the first one not in a church basement in the spirit of ecumenical understanding, ie a REAL Seder, was at the home of one of my friends’ mother.

I’d run into her mom, whom I knew only slightly, while riding home from work on the Metro. She had just been downsized from her job at a museum downtown. I immediately offered her a stopgap position at the graphic arts studio where I was office managing. She didn’t end up taking the job, but she did invite me to her house for that night’s Seder. Believe me, a Seder in the home beats out a church basement hands down.

Since then, I’ve been to vegetarian Seders. I’ve been to Seders in the home of a learned Rabbi–whose wife is one of the best home cooks whose food I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. I’ve been to a Seder in England. And I’ve been to Seders where not one person at the table was an observant Jew. And that’s the kind I’ll be having on Sunday night.

We’re of Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Protestant and Agnostic/Atheist extraction. But everybody should mark the onset of Spring. With the return of life comes the return of freedom: freedom to be productive, to take up stewardship, to set off for new horizons, to renew commitment to oneself, to be true to one’s dreams, to build community.

I love a good celebration of the force of life moving through us and beyond us. I love to make better that which is and to make all that I touch more for my having been present. I’ll be celebrating Easter with the same intent next weekend. But for now, I’ve got my heart set on a Passover Seder.

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