This weekend was one of celebration – Easter was Sunday, and we hosted a seder on Saturday (a little late, but who’s counting?). We told The Story, discussed said Story, drank four cups of wine, asked The Four Questions (this was my job – I did the whole thing in Hebrew), and reclined on the couch and floor (in celebration of freedom). We introduced ourselves and invited absent mothers, grandmothers, greatgrandmothers, sisters, and friends (note the matrilineal emphasis), poured wine into bowls to represent the ten plagues, and sang Dayeinu, “enough.”
Heather (my roommate who organized the seder) hid the afikoman, the piece of matzoh broken in half at the beginning of the seder, on the front lawn of campus. Normally, parents hide the afikoman for children to later find as a way to keep them alert and ready for dessert. Although no children were present at our seder (I guess we did have a sophomore there, though), we were all excited to run around in search of the hidden matzoh.
The Seder is performed largely the same way by Jews across the world – but of course, there are slight variations in tradition and in the stories told. Even among our group of 10, there were 4 different explanations for the tambourines and musical instruments brought by the women as they crossed the sea to escape from Egypt. It’s really beautiful that there’s no single interpretation endorsed.
In typical fashion for my house, our seder had a feminist twist. Heather took snippets from the Women’s Haggadah and more conservative haggahdahs to create the “Terra Incognita Haggadah.” Some of the stories really resonated with me. I’ll leave an excerpt here to end:
“Tonight we celebrate our liberation from Egypt — in Hebrew, Mitzrayim, literally “the narrow place.” But narrow places exist in more ways than one. Though we no longer labor under Pharaoh’s overseers, we may still be enslaved
— now in subtler ways, harder to eradicate. Do we enslave ourselves to our jobs? To our expectations? To the expectations of others? To our fears?”