This weekend were the first two nights of Passover. This is my favorite holiday of the year. The Passover seder is a celebration of freedom and liberation, a reminder how each of us needs to continue the fight for the liberation of those who are still oppressed as well as liberating ourselves from the prison of habit and ego. The word “seder” means order and refers to the order in which specific rituals in the retelling of the story of the exodus from Egypt should be told. It is a humorous irony, however, because a seder is anything but orderly, punctuated usually by stories, comments, and a variety of interactive activities.
Last night’s seder was accompanied by ukelele playing and jazz improvisations on a shofar. There were reenactments by children and adults alike of each of the plagues (my favorite being ice cubes thrown into people’s water glasses, ie hail, though my rendition of a locust was not too shabby) and questions were gathered from the group just in case we ran out of things to talk about (highly unlikely). After dinner was the breaking of the “traditional” Passover Pinata, which included the usual technique of big stick but also some kick-boxing, as well.
This year’s first night’s seder was more sedate, though equally not orderly, still punctuated with stories and commentary and a great deal of humor. The seder focused on Adrienne Rich’s “For Memory”—
Freedom. It isn’t once, to walk out
under the Milky Way, feeling the rivers
of light, the fields of dark—
freedom is daily, prose-bound, routine
remembering. Putting together, inch by inch
the starry worlds. From all the lost collections.
It is all of this that holds the essence of Passover for me. It’s the communal engagement of imagination, intellect, and creativity to interpret again and again the value of and the necessity for liberation, in all its chaotic and disorderly celebration and significance.