Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Forward-Looking, Busy Person's, God-free, Haggadah-Free Seder

Apologies to the traditionalists among you but here's my agenda for a Passover Seder I'd eagerly attend. Would you?

1. State the rationale for a looking-forward rather than history-retelling-Seder.  Passover's message is "never forget." But the costs of remembering and benefits of forgetting may outweigh. My father, a Holocaust survivor, said the key to living productivity, healthily, without wasted anger is to never look back, always take the next step forward. Indeed, nearly all my successful clients also never look back to past injustices to them. 

I feel that the Passover Haggadah, which focuses on looking back to the Israelites' bondage in Egypt, yes, helps us to remember the evils of constraint. But that's obvious to nearly everyone who would attend a Seder. I believe the side effect of engendering undue suspicion of others outweighs. Besides, I find the Haggadah's retelling of that story boring, especially having heard it a zillion times.

2. Discussion (15-30 minutes:) 

a) Passover's core theme is to celebrate freedom over restriction. Is unbridled freedom always good? 

b) Who deserves to be more free?

c) How about the Jews? What, if anything, shackles them: political correctness, anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism? For example, is the double-standard applied to Israel fair? Few countries question Arab countries being 100% Muslim, yet many advocacy groups, even countries, refuse to accept Israel as a Jewish state, even though Muslims are welcome in Israel and Israel is a tiny sliver, created as a safe harbor against millennia of oppression: from ancient Rome to the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust to the Palestinian government's charter and even mainstream Muslim-American groups, which called for the destruction of Israel.)

3. Each Seder attendee would be invited to make a commitment: "Is there one thing you want to commit to doing or changing as a result of our discussion?"

4. We sing two freedom-related songs but NOT the traditional Passover tunes, for example, not Dayenu, which urges us to praise God no matter how little he does for us. In fact, I am unalterably convinced there is no God, let alone one we should have faith in. The only God is the idealistic impulse that resides within each of us. 

So the songs in this Seder would be: 
Exodus. (Yes, it mentions God, but only peripherally)

5.  The dinner would be anything the host wants to prepare or bring in, or potluck. The only changes from the norm: matzah instead of bread, sweet wine (e.g., Manischewitz, Mogen David) instead of standard wine.

What do you think? Suggestions for improvement?


Anonymous said...

Last night I said, "I do the short seder. Why is this night different from all other nights?" We think about it for a second. Then we eat!
My grandfather gave a 2 hour seder every year! Then an uncle took over and it was only like 30 minutes. Everybody said, "He does the short seder." So they knew what I meant. I am a godless atheist, but I would give anything to sit down at Passover with the old ones again. Wouldn't you, Marty?

Marty Nemko said...

Candidly, the Seder I propose is the one I'd most want to attend. I find traditional ones--even the 30 minute quickie--to be a bit hidebound.


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