To be young at an old age, one must dare to begin again, always. (Buber)
It is forbidden to be old, forbidden to renounce renewing oneself, to be satisfied with an answer that would no longer challenge the question. (R. Nachman of Bratzlav)
So here we are, two Jews in the latter part of our lives, who are also husband and wife, starting this new writing venture., Why bother? Has not all been learned that we wished to learn? Has not all been taught that we wished to teach? For both of us were educators and we taught both children (Joy) and adults (Sig). So nu???
We are planning a Seder. Each of us has memories of Sedarim led by our grandparents and parents for their grandchildren and children. Now we are the grandparents and parents our grandchildren and children and we choose the Haggadot we wish to use. The Hagaddah text has not changed significantly, but the illustrations and commentaries have. No more pictures of the Roman soldiers for the Evil Son and advertisements for Maxwell House coffee. And we have changed, for now we have decided to ask our guests about the meaning of the Seder for them as Jews.
For some of our guests that question has to be rephrased for they grew up as Christians. Thus we will rephrase the question to say: ‘What does the Exodus story mean to our lives as American adults, some of whom are Jewish?’
We have decided to open our Seder with that question. We will ask an adult to baby sit for the kids for about 30 plus minutes. (We have a volunteer.) We will gather the adults around us and begin the dialogue. For the Seder is more than a meal. It is more than a tale. It is a dialogue between the God of Israel and me…and you? Why were we chosen to be freed from Egypt? Why must we remember our past before we reach Sinai? And where are we going in our journey from slavery (childhood) to self authentication (adulthood)? After that we will eat as a family, sing some songs,read some stories, and recite some blessings. Our text gives us so many choices. We will not stay up to discuss and pray until the time for the morning Shema has come as the ancient Rabbis did. But can we evoke a feeling of closeness between You and Me?
Will this Seder be meaningful to all of us? We don’t know, but we will soon find out!
What will our children say? ‘Oh mom!?’
But then, despite everything, we dare to trust and dare to try anew!
Have a joyous Seder.
Joy and Sig Stahl