Image: The Temple Sinai Seder, 2014. Photo by R. Ruth Adar.
There are a number of favorite seders in my memory, but the one I look forward to every year is the community seder put on by the synagogue where I’m a member. It’s held on the second night of Passover, and led by one or two clergy in the congregation, this year by the cantor. I’ve led it a couple of times – that’s fun, too.
There are lots of old people, and lots of young families. There are regulars: the people who’ve been around for years, who are stalwarts on committees. There is a healthy sprinkling of people who found us through some directory, just looking for an open spot at a seder.
The seder is a journey, and we are a mixed multitude, just like the ragtag crowd in Exodus. A few minutes in, and I grow impatient: this is going to take forever, why do we hand that microphone around for the readings, augh! the haggadah is not a funeral! — and then I settle down for the ride, and enjoy myself thoroughly, listening to the familiar voices as the microphone circles the room from reader to reader.
It’s a fairly raucous crowd, never quite quiet, but we sing along enthusiastically with each song whether we know it or not. Some people are table-bangers, and others are clappers, and some people try to harmonize with mixed results. We sing the four questions, and the Great Jewish Earworm “Dayeinu,” and all the other familiar tunes.
Miracles happen. The matzah starts as the bread of affliction and turns into the bread of freedom. The horseradish looks innocent and tastes incendiary. There are enough vegetarian entrees for all the vegetarians. We talk about the well of Miriam and the cup of Elijah and the little kids keep starting up a chorus of Dayeinu at odd entervals. An old lady falls asleep for a while, and then wakes just as we reach the point (Shulcan Orech) when it’s time to eat and the caterer is miraculously ready. The flourless chocolate cake is always flawless.
Somewhere along the evening, I am overcome with mushiness, and reach over to pat my wife’s hand. “I love you,” I say, “And I love this place.”