Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
I love Passover.
I love spending time with my family, I love the food, and I love that we have a holiday centered on teaching each other meaningful lessons from our shared history, while welcoming strangers to the table each year. We have all these props and symbolic foods to help us tell the story of the exodus, and then at the end of the lesson we get to eat everything. Also, have you ever thought about how cool the seder plate is? It’s a license to play with your food!
This is my kind of holiday.
I also love the traditions my family includes in our Passover seder. When we were little, my cousins and I would reenact the 10 Plagues by throwing cotton balls and paper frogs around the dining room. Now that we’re older, we’ve gotten even cleverer. In the last few years, we have developed a tradition of transforming the Maggid, the storytelling part of the seder, into some clever skit. I believe it began with Beatles themed seder songs, like 8 Days a Year and He Freed Us, Yeah Yeah Yeah.
Ever since then, we’ve been putting our own twist on the story of the exodus. One year we were all really into the TV show Lost, and my sister rewrote the whole Passover story to take place on a desert island. In 2012 we had the Presidential Primary Seder, in which all the candidates running for office found themselves competing to be the prophet who would lead the Israelites to freedom.
And this year, well I think this year is the best theme yet: Super Bowl XLIX Pats-Sover seder. In this year’s retelling of the Maggid, the New England Patriots have not won a Super Bowl in over a decade. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick must lead the Patriots/Israelites out of this desert and into the Promised Land of victory. Plagues include a mess of injuries that hop up on us (like frogs), a swarm of defense (like the locusts), and the plague of darkness that descends upon us whenever the New York Jets come to town.
Coming up with a new theme each year is a lot of fun, and it’s a good challenge. We make sure to include all the important details of the Passover story, and finding ways to fit these in makes us think hard. As an ISJL Education Fellow, it’s my job to come up with new and exciting ways to keep students engaged in Jewish life. I am so glad that my family and I do this for each other year after year at our seder, and that this creative tradition I can share with the Southern Jewish communities I serve, too.
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Pronounced: SAY-der, Origin: Hebrew, literally “order”; usually used to describe the ceremonial meal and telling of the Passover story on the first two nights of Passover. (In Israel, Jews have a seder only on the first night of Passover.)