The Seder awaits. Friends and family will gather at this season as we re-enact, in a variety of ways, the foundational story of Judaism. The Wilderness and the move from slavery to, we hope, freedom, is a theme that will be discussed in so many ways during this season. No doubt, many Sederim will mention the linkage between the recent March for Our Lives and the call for freedom and justice that rests within much of the Seder liturgy. This event, the Seder, even with its historical roots, is a living breathing dynamic event that speaks to the constancy of change and evolution within Judaism. The plethora of Haggadot, ranging from Humanist to Renewal attests to the varieties of Passover expression. The evolving ritual elements speak as well, to this value. When we were young did you have a “Miriam’s Cup” or the Orange to symbolize GLBTQ inclusion? Change, communal and more important, personal, is a part of this ceremony.
A major factor of every Seder is the ritual surrounding the opening of the door for Elijah. The symbolism of the hoped for Messianic Age is embraced by the Eliahu Ha’Navi melody. We open the door, but what else can we glean from this act? Let me suggest something that speaks to our age, and perhaps , all generations. Let me suggest that when you open that door, you welcome the possibility of growth, change, risk and future. Open the door for the future, that is what we can speak to this year. Last year was the year that Boomers were replaced by Millenials as the largest population cohort in the United States. It is this generation that,we hope, will continue to open doors to greater freedoms, equality and activism. No doubt that in recent weeks we have seen this generation not only open doors, but, in a sense, kick a few down.
And what of us? As long as we live,we are called by our Judaism to embrace the future. The Seder again speaks of the constancy of change. We are no different. We change as well and are changing. Each of us, in a different way, buy there is the call of our tradition to embrace our future and not to fear it. When we open the door for Elijah, we open the door to the possibility of our own tomorrows. The Messianic Age, as is with our own life, will be created not by Divine edict, but by out own committment to it. Perhaps no other ritual moment in our year symbolizes the “call” to create a meaningful tomorrow than that open door. Let’s not fear to welcome that future, no matter where we are in life. The choice of that future rests within our own hands and hearts. OPen the door and let our tomorrows begin.
Have a sweet , joyous and healthy Passover.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.