Cynics beware. I hate a threat when I’m about to bare my heart, but it’s hard to resist given the clash between hope and despair I witnessed at our alternative, multi-culti Passover seder this past Saturday night. Traditionally, Passover is a biblical fest celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt and liberation from slavery, but with all due respect, that was then and this is now. People everywhere continue to oppress and be enslaved, and depression rules. Why do we keep repeating the past? Why can’t we get along??
As a child, I loved Passover; the long table filled with family and friends, the songs (read: prayers) and the flourescent jelly candies. Growing up, I began to question the (faster, let’s eat) recitation of its Jewish, and male-centric story, and decided to create an all-embracing alternative.
We were 18 (representing chai– ‘life’ in Hebrew). We spanned the globe and easily spoke a dozen languages between us. Everyone brought a reading, a story to tell, a song. The theme was collective energy: our coming together to make the world a better place. We shared extraordinary people, epic experiences, and words: the Dalai Lama (“My religion is kindness”), the last selling (a blank page with its name) of an Iranian newspaper for social justice blacklisted by Khomeini- and the massive protest of its demise; hope born through the violent death and birth of a sheep; Dr. Wangari Maathai- the Tree Mother of Africa; the healing karma of an Austrian at a Jewish table; a dying man singing happy songs; a poem by David Whyte that says it all, and so much more. The cynics said it was fine sentiment but that no amount of do-gooding could significantly alter the essential lousiness of the world.
Pessimism (with history on its side) was met with the deep flow of hopeful rebirth: the cultivation of inter-connectedness, positivity and love, the belief that the internet can serve as a bridge between people; the message: we are tired of being hard, and teaching our children to be hard in the name of self-protection.
No one wanted to leave the table. Let us serve each other.
To my friends and readers: I’m sorry our table wasn’t big enough to include you all. Next year! In the meantime, why not create your own all-embracing alternative? Pot-luck!
Let’s build a list of interesting links and pass it on:
Our Alt-Passover Plate
FAN THE FLAMES