Modernising the Seder

This evening, we’ll be hosting a few friends for a Seder dinner, marking the first night of Passover. As you may have gathered from recent posts, this tradition is kind of a big deal to me. At the same time I get frustrated with a lot of the traditional service, because it’s full of digressions like accounts of arguments between mediæval Rabbis about the kind of textual minutiae that would make sense at Yeshiva but really don’t help us get to the essence of what the festival commemorates. This makes me very interested in updatings of the traditional service.Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah cover image

For the past few years, we’ve used the Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah,which fixes everything that frustrates me about the traditional one and adds some things I hadn’t thought about.

Last week I discovered a new resource that I may draw on a little too: The Sayder. It’s a much more radical redesign of the service, stripping it down to a four-step discussion of the core theme of slavery and how to end it. I’m particularly enamoured with it because one of its prompts reiterates something that’s been much on my mind lately:

As consumers, how aware are we of the conditions of workers and the use of resources that define our lifestyle? What are the responsibilities that comes with our privilege?

I’m not going to use this as the main order of the night, because there’s plenty of the traditional service that I do like and want to share with people, and the Velveteen Rabbi’s done a great job of keeping the good parts. But I think I’ll include some of the Sayder’s prompts and see how that goes.

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