Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere at the Seder

20 Mar

Years ago when my wife and I lived in New York, I
once joined her at a women’s seder conducted by
Ma’yan, a Jewish women’s organization. At the seder,
participants began by introducing themselves to the
people at their tables with their Hebrew names and
the Hebrew names of their mothers and
grandmothers going back as many generations as
possible—“I am so-and-so, bat (daughter of) so-andso, bat so-and-so….” Where Hebrew names were not
known, English names were substituted. I propose
that we adopt a similar practice as we sit down to our
own sedarim. On Passover, we blend our personal
stories with the story of the Jewish people. Our
names help us tell our personal stories and connect us
to the stories of our ancestors going back many
generations. Let me suggest that we take advantage of
this holiday season to double check with family
members about our own names and those of parents
and grandparents. As a last resort, if confirming your
own Hebrew name proves impossible, there is a ritual
for adopting a new Hebrew name. Feel free to contact me
if you wish to explore this possibility.
As we celebrate the festival of our freedom, I pray
that we will feel renewed and reconnected with our
friends and loved ones around the Seder table. May
our entire people benefit from these reconnections.

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