'I Have a Story About Slavery'

An interfaith Passover seder recounts the old story...and some new ones.

Maybe hosting your own holiday celebrations is a sign of growing up. Maybe it's a way to create new shared experiences with loving friends. Maybe it's a practical response when your holidays don't fall on a weekend and you can't get home to your family.

A few years ago, my friend David and I decided to create our own seder. It was a great opportunity: Our seder would be open, interactive, with lots of storytelling and conversation, something very different from the traditional 1950s-style observance we had both grown up with.

In my family, seders included a complete reading of the Haggadah--the book of ritual and liturgy used at the seder. The edition of the Haggadah we used was published by none other than Maxwell House, the coffee company. We read every single word in the old-fashioned English the book used and tried not to giggle when my uncle intoned phrases like, "And what saith the wicked son?" We did everything in the proper order, exactly as we did every year: Grandma--later my mother--explained the ritual seder plate, all of us read out loud from the Haggadah, drank from the four cups of wine, ate the festive meal, and sang the traditional songs that punctuate the service.

Passover on Beliefnet
  • A comparison of theme Haggadahs.
  • Arthur Hertzberg on the lessons of his parents' seder.
  • Susan Schnur on a new Passover ritual.
  • Teaching Tales: Elijah's Favorite Seder
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