Passover Links

I’m not the only one for whom "For we were strangers in the land of Egypt" is resonating particularly loudly this year.

Jews in America are not as solidly left as they once were, but most are pro-immigration, both because many of us are not that many generations removed from the immigrant experience (both my grandmothers came to this country as children), and because we know that thousands — maybe tens of thousands, maybe more — of the six million might have survived if America and other countries had been willing to let them in.

Or as Marge Piercy writes in a poem that was read at many seders tonight:

"We Jews are all born of wanderers, with shoes
under our pillows and a memory of blood that is ours
raining down. We honor only those Jews who changed
tonight, those who chose the desert over bondage,

who walked into the strange and became strangers
and gave birth to children who could look down
on them standing on their shoulders for having
been slaves. We honor those who let go of everything
but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought,
who became other by saving themselves."

6 Responses to “Passover Links”

  1. The MOM Says:

    I’m glad you mentioned this, because at our seder last night, a great deal of the conversation revolved around the recent events surrounding the immigration issue. Many of the passages in the Haggadah last night felt particularly meaningful to me. Of course, that could have just been the wine talking.

  2. amy Says:

    We had 4 children under 6 at our seder, so we used a children’s haggadah I found online, and actually got through most of it. More than usually, I was disturbed and annoyed by the bloodthirst and the way the significant stories are, as in so much of history, cast in terms of simple battles. The haggadah, mercifully, skipped the numerological games with the five fingers and the outstretched arm of God plaguing the hell out of the Egyptians, but I don’t think I want to see another 5-year-old reading out the plagues one-by-one, holding up pictures she’s drawn for the occasion. I thought it was particularly ugly because at our seder was a woman who knows what horrors are; our host’s mother is a Holocaust survivor.
    So what to do? Maybe next year we can save the bloodthirsty fairy tale for the grownups as a historical and metaphoric document, and talk about why we have this story if, in fact, there was no mass exodus of slaves. If it’s not true, is it useful? Is it more useful, than, say, an account of the wandering, persecution, and persistence of the Jews?
    And what for the children? I don’t know.

  3. Genevieve Says:

    Great links, Elizabeth! Happy Passover to you and yours.

  4. Mieke Says:

    I am curious about Passover and all you working mothers. We hosted the Seder at my house and the only way for me to pull it off was to cook a ton the night before and take the day off yesterday to prepare the house and cook some more. It was the same for my friends who were hosting Seders, the husbands worked all day but came home early to make it for the Seder – but the wives took off. Is this the way it was for you too? It’s an uncomfortable dynamic for me professionally because in all ways I am equal and many times more powerful than the men I work with, but on this front I feel like “the little wife” going home to cook. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE doing it – I love creating a cozy space for my family and friends but when the men I work with are staying in their offices working as their stay-at-home wives cook – I just feel odd. You?

  5. bj Says:

    I was the only non-jew at a 2nd night seder, and looking at it from the outside, there’s definitely a war-like theme to the stories. Our children also played with the plagues, and in in particular, my son (yes, my first born son, though not my first born child) found a mask of the plague of the first born, which he insisted on wearing for a good portion of the night. I have to say it was quite horrifying.
    I want to celebrate the tradition and history (BTW, husband is jewish, though of the non-practicing variety), so my solution is to think of the words metophorically: the “Egyptians” are not Egyptions, but those who hold others in slavery; we celebrate all of those who leave to fight and find freedom.

  6. Susan Says:

    Wonderful links, Elizabeth, and such good discussion in the post and comments.
    My daughter is almost-four now, and it’s interesting seeing all these stories through her eyes. She’s learning–not just through Passover but through stories in general–to think about the complexities of human nature, about people who do bad things, or brave things, or good things. And she’s learning this as she plays, and experiments herself with sometimes horridly mean language, or is on the receiving end of various unkind words or gestures. (and similarly on the giving/receiving side of hugs, kisses, and tons of generous and empathetic gestures.) So the simple lines of the seder stories are rather horrifying–but at the same time, so many cultural messages get given to children via tales (fairy tales, fiction, family stories, bible stories, whatever) that start so simple and get more complicated. I have mixed feelings about some of the choices we made in presenting things for the kids. I don’t know what the answers are.
    I wondered about the work/cooking/cleaning issues, too. Our first night host took the day off from work to cook and clean, but in that family, he’s the full-time worker and also the cook, so that’s a little different. One of the reasons we didn’t sit down to dinner until 8:30 last night was b/c of the working hosts. That was less than ideal for obvious reasons but did have better gender equity in the work leading up to the seder.

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