Sunday, April 08, 2007


Robin, the illustrious author of The Other Mother, and her partner, Marcia, had us over for Passover Seder last week. I’d never been to a Passover Seder before and didn’t have any expectations ahead of time. At first, BabyG was happily dazed by the company of the other children – Pearl, Carrie, and Miles – and after about fifteen minutes she started playing. Robin and Marcia told us that they would keep the Passover ceremony short and child-friendly. Their tone was reassuring, as if I was thinking, “G-d, I hope it’s not going to be one of those long ones,” which I wasn’t thinking since I’d never been to one.

We all sat in a circle on the floor around a platter, in which several kinds of food were arranged. I can’t recall the ceremony exactly, but I remember eggs, parsley, horseradish, a sweet mix of apples and nuts, unleavened bread, a chicken bone, and wine. (I hope I didn’t miss anything.) Robin explained that each food had a symbolic significance connected to the Jews fleeing slavery in Egypt. Actually, she started off by explaining that Passover is for all people, not just Jews. All groups of people, she said, have experienced different high and lows in their histories. Then as we ate each kind of food, she explained how we might understand its significance. All this discourse took place in English. Later, when we sat down at the dinner table, Robin led the recitation of a few Hebrew prayers.

Though we apparently experienced an abbreviated Seder ritual, I found it very meaningful. Hindu rituals are almost never performed in English. Our wedding sacrament, for example, was in Sanskrit. I hope one day American Hindus can emulate the way American Jews have woven Hebrew and English together in their ceremonies. And I’m so impressed by the way Robin drew us into her tradition and expressed that tradition in an inclusive way. MaGreen and I have the ambition of doing the same with Holi next year.


MaGreen said...

i thought it was like indian ceremonies i've been to because the kids weren't swept off to a room of their own or coerced to sit still, quietly. i loved how the seder was presented on the kids level, and they were allowed to behave like kids in the way they expressed their curiosity and their wiggliness.

Angry Brown Man said...

Why should HIndus change our ancient culture to benefit the white man? That is ridiculous