Seder in Seattle 3

This is the third in the series, and I am sharing the process of a seder, so that if you come to a new city, at a time to share this ceremony on your travels, you will have some understanding and a comfort-zone that you can just enjoy the event with your hosts.

Many cities hold community seders, and others will try to find families who will invite you to theirs. The first year that my family was in this city, my husband and I and our then 1 year old child were invited to the home of a very thoughtful family, and we thereby had our good deeds paid forward to us. (We had offered home seders to American servicemen during the Viet Nam war). We lived in Bangkok then, and the guys came there for Rest and Recreation (R&R). So, if you have to travel at this holy time, call ahead to the local community and see how they can help you, and maybe arrange to find out where to get the Pesach foods you need, too.

Traditionally, the Jewish home is cleared of all leavened goods and totally cleaned. Then, the Passover foods are brought in, and processed at various times for the seder meal. Some foods are never eaten at Passover; some are forbidden. There are differences among the 3 main branches of Judaism on some of the foods, but all adhere to the exclusion of all leavened foods. So, if you are from the Northern European tradition (Ashkanazi), you may find differences if your hostess is Sephardi (Mediterranean and North African Jews) or an Oriental Jew from Syria, Iran, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Burma, China or Japan. North, Central and South Americans can be from any of these 3 groups.

Seder means “order”, the orderly progression of the telling of the story to each new generation of how the Lord redeemed every generation of Jews from the slavery their ancestors endured in Egypt under Pharaoh Ramses II.

To live as a free People is a great Blessing. So, in explaining the seder, I’ll start with the Ceremonial Plate:

___ a roasted lamb shank: which symbolizes the marking of the Jews’ homes’ doorposts with lamb’s blood so that their first-born children would not be smitten as the final of the 10 plagues which the Lord sent to the Egyptians. The Angel of Death “Passed Over” the homes of the Jews and their children survived. And, it reminds us of the Passover sacrifice made to the Lord in thanksgiving.

___ parsley and green herbs: to symbolize springtime, growth, regeneration and Hope.

___ horseradish: symbol of the bitterness and tears of the generations of Jewish slaves in Egypt.

___ charoseth: symbolizes the mortar used to cement the pyramids and because it is purposely made with sweet ingredients, it’s dual purpose is to cement the Joy of freedom. It is typically made of grated apple wine, cinnamon and nuts in the European tradition and with cooked, smooth figs, plums, dates any and all, as sweet pastes with spices in the Sefardi Jewish tradition of the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa.

___ a roasted egg: symbolizing the ancient Festival offering when Jews from all over Israel came to the Temple in Jerusalem, as the Lord commanded, to make their gift of thanks. And, that the egg symbolizes Life’s triumph over Death.

___ 3 special matzahs: 2 represent the two loaves which would have been made for the celebration at the Temple in Jerusalem in ancient times and the 3rd is for the extra one made at in ancient times for Passover. The middle one is chosen as the Afikomen, which children search for during the ceremony. This helps to engage the children, as does one other important event which they participate in (explained tomorrow).

Matzahs are made from wheat or spelt flour and water by a special process that takes them from whole grain to flour to cooked completed matza in 18 minutes, so that the flour and its dough do not have a chance to ferment and be contaminated. They are mentioned specifically in the Old Testament’s Book of Exodus: when the People had to leave Egypt so fast that they put their unbaked bread sheets on their backs where it baked in the sun.

And, nearby at the table will be:

___ The Cup of Miriam: Miriam, Moses’ older sister, who made sure that the Pharaoh’s sister found the baby in his bulrush basket by the Nile, was the first one to find a water source, on the Exodus, after the Lord had helped the Jews to gain freedom and flee the Egyptian army. A well in the desert, still called Miriam’s well, exists. The glass is filled with the purest spring water to give thanks for the life-saving waters, as the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.

___ The Cup of Elijah, the Prophet: Elijah is the herald of Redemption, and his cup is filled with wine and is displayed next to the seder plate. His is also the time in the service when Jews invite any last-minute, needy Jews who have nowhere to celebrate seder. Elijah is believed to visit each Jewish home during the eight day festival, and symbolically he is welcomed at the seder.

___ Water is on the table for cleansing hands and salt water is also in a vessel (reminding us of tears shed), in which we dip the greens of Hope and renewal.

___ Wine: There will be blessings said over 4 glasses of Kosher for Pesach (Passover) wine.

___ There will be an empty chair at the table symbolic of the attendance of all those peoples of the world who still are not free.

More on the actual seder service tomorrow.

Seattle travel articles portal, here!

Seattle Useful Links Archive from TravelVacationReview

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Leave a Reply