As Baby Boomers, are we not living in the craziest reality ever?
We have experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy’s assassination, the Viet Nam War, the 60s Movement, Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n Roll, man on the moon, end of Communism, mass shootings and gun violence and I could list much more but it’s already too much to consider what we have seen in our lifetime, let alone to even mention the person who occupies the White House today.
So as the Passover season approaches, I hear in my head from back in the 60s, while sitting at the Passover table, some of my cousins yelling at their father as he read from the Haggadah, “We’ve heard this story before! Tell us another one!” While my uncle gave them a “knowing” look which was meant to say, “Shut up!” some others at the table giggled. As a 13 year-old, I felt embarrassed for my uncle and thought my cousins were being disrespectful and knew they were going to get a talking-to by the end of the evening. But it happened every year! And at such a young age I questioned who had the power here, who was in control of a once-a-year holiday that was suppose to hold so much reverence and meaning? To me, their annual outbursts demeaned the holiday.
That yearly moment has never left my memory and every Passover as an adult, where I cook, I set the table and embrace my guests I hope for no one disrespecting the significance of why we are gathered. Always, at some point in the Seder, I hear my cousin’s mantra and am so pleased that the words were in my head and not at my table!
After going through a divorce and having my grandfather pass away the same year, (my father had died when I was a teen), we had no one to lead our Seder, no male at the head of the table. But it was also at a time when woman were being ordained rabbis, told they could be head-of-households and lead a Seder.
What a concept!
So I decided to push the envelope and let my children participate in the Seder by reading more than the Four Questions while hoping to get them engaged in the ritual. I worried a bit how my grandfather would have reacted that young ones took his place but my Bubbe didn’t seem to mind, so each year I expanded their roles in the Seder, let them pick new Pesach foods they could prepare and suggested they invite non-Jewish friends to our celebration.
This was not my grandfather’s, or uncle’s, Seder anymore!
And then as my grandchildren were born, one grandson and three granddaughters, I wanted the girls to know how important their role in the Seder was going to be besides cooking. So I sat down and wrote our own family Haggadah that was in language youngsters could understand, feel comfortable in reading out loud like the adults, and relate to, using recent examples of persecution, intolerance, prejudice and injustice.
Between their school and religious education, they got it!
And this year, as three of the kids have celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and one left for 2019, I am asking each of them to write a relevant prayer that combines our Passover story and today’s current events to be read at the end of the Seder and then added to our Haggadah.
And we are including some new friends at our Seder this year: a Jewish girl from Brazil who is working in the Bay Area as an au pair and a mother and son from Poland who have Jewish roots on one side of their family. They have each agreed to bring a traditional Passover food from their family Seders! It should be a wonderful holiday!
But there is a BUT in all of this: How do we integrate our past as a lesson in Jewish history of persecution and today’s world of intolerance and explain it to our grandchildren?
How do we justify that that which was history is rearing its ugly head in the 21st century?
It seems some history is repeating itself. What reasonable answers do we have for honest questions kids ask today? Haven’t we learned? Why has there been a rise in anti-Semitism in the past several years? Why are our grandkids experiencing blatant prejudice and fears from bullies? How do we tell them they should feel safe in their schools, at concerts, in airports, and walking our city streets when we fear for their daily safety? How do we reconcile the past with the present events? What wisdom and peace do we have to offer them?
May G-d bless the teens from Parkland, Florida who are standing as the adults in the room, pushing, questioning and marching for answers and results to keep all kids safe, free of persecution, free of fear and free to grow up!
All part of our Passover message!
The Parkland kids have WOKE through a tragedy that no one should ever experience!
The Parkland kids have WOKE the world by showing the power of voice from the people!
The Parkland kids have WOKE our country by exposing law-makers who care more for their jobs than their/all kids!
It’s time we all WOKE and follow the future leaders of America to take us out of a bondage that could give our grandkids a lifetime filled with freedom and peace of mind!
And if you don’t know what WOKE means, ask your grandchildren or ask Siri! You will be amazed how WOKE you will become!
May your Passover Seder have sweet blessings; May your family live in health, love and joy; and May we all feel safe with peace. Have a wonderful Seder!
P.S. Please participate in the Jewish American Baby Boomer Legacy Project! Tell your Jewish story, leave your family a legacy via written, video or audio! We all have a story to share! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more info or read the article on JewishSacredAging.com.