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I'm just recovering from last night's seder, a mammoth six-hour event with 250 guests. The setting was spectacular, here in the foothills of the Himalayas. When I stepped outside for evening prayers, the moon was a big white matzah in the sky, and you could see the white peaks of the Himalayas. For me, they are beautiful, but for the Tibetan refugees who live here in exile, the other side of those peaks are a lost home.

Passover on Beliefnet
  • Johanna Skilling on the lessons she learned at an interfaith seder.
  • Arthur Hertzberg on the lessons of his parents' seder.
  • PLUS: Find more features, music, and the interactive seder plate in Beliefnet's Passover section. My friend Azriel Cohen, who lives in Jerusalem, started a project he calls "Tent of Light" (in Hebrew, it's Ohr Olam, "Light of the World"). He comes from a haredi (so-called ultra-Orthodox) Jewish background, and his dream is to bring the Jewish people together under one tent.

    After he read my book "The Jew in the Lotus," he decided to check out Dharamsala himself. Dharamsala is full of Jewish travelers. Some are "dharma" people, seeking Buddhist teachings here and in other parts of India, practicing meditation on retreats, and generally opening up in this extraordinary land so rich with spiritual practice. There are many Israelis here, usually young people traveling after their military service, seeking an exotic and inexpensive adventure. I was amazed to see how many signs and posters in Dharamsala are in Hebrew.

    Azriel's Tent of Light is a place where Jews who have been opened up by other spiritual traditions can taste some of the deeper teachings of their own. In addition to the seder, it features several weeks of classes and lectures about Jewish spirituality, this year led by Mimi Feigelson, a wonderful storyteller and teacher from Jerusalem, and me. Helping us out from Capetown is "Uncle Steve" Barnett, who uses rhythm, clapping, and drumming to bring together people from different cultures. That helps a lot because our Jewish "puja" (as the Hindus call any ceremony) has been attracting interest not only from Jews but from a representative sample of the entire planet.

    I have a long connection with this idea of doing a seder here. Back in 1990, Rabbi Zalman Schachter had proposed teaching the Tibetans how to do a seder. (The word means "order," and a seder is a meal with a definite order of eating and speaking, all designed to recall the wondrous liberation of Hebrew slaves from Egypt long ago.)

    Passover on Beliefnet
  • Johanna Skilling on the lessons she learned at an interfaith seder.
  • Arthur Hertzberg on the lessons of his parents' seder.

    PLUS: Find more features, music, and the interactive seder plate in Beliefnet's Passover section.
  • Back then, the Dalai Lama had asked for Jewish secrets of survival during our long years of exile from our homeland. The seder was one answer. The rabbis created the seder as we know it after the Second Temple was destroyed. They centered it on commandments in the Torah, but they also borrowed the form of the Greek Symposium, a special meal or banquet, such as the one described in Plato's "Symposium."

    Zalman wanted to pass the favor along to the Tibetans. Now that they are living in exile--some 150,000 in India, Europe, and the U.S.--perhaps they too could use a home ritual in which family members recall the spiritual values of their tradition and pass them along to children.

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