As we sit down to the seder this year, let us remember to talk about the Passover Seders we have had before. Let us share stories of our grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends and let us pay tribute to those who brought us to this place, but are no longer with us to share in the seder. It is vitally important to share the traditions of Judaism, the family connections and the personal histories that preceded us in order to ensure the continuation of these in years to come. Each family does something different. Share the uniqueness of your celebration with your children and guests, taking care to explain where it began. This nurtures a love for family tradition, sharing our heritage and culture, and encourages our children to continue them in their future lives.
As you tell the story of the exodus from Egypt, stop to consider those who are enslaved today. In this millennium, we still hear horrendous stories of people enslaved in one way or another. How can we bring attention to their plight? Is there anything we can do to help free them? Take this a step further and explain that not everyone is blessed with the same opportunities, learning styles and family values and traditions. Do we stand by and watch them be bullied for being different; or do we take a stand as our tradition tells us to?
Passover is the perfect time to discuss issues like bullying, racial, ethnic or other differences. It is the time to speak to your families about values, about focusing on the all-important relationships rather than the golden calf; and about taking a stand for what you know is wrong. If we proactively address these issues with our children, they are better galvanized to face them when they are confronted with them and not to just walk away from injustice.
SUE PENN is currently the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue where she oversees all education from ages 4-104. Sue has been honored for being an innovative educator and is committed to creative approaches in Jewish Education. Sue currently sits on the Board of the Jewish National Fund of Orange County, and of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America, where she was a previous chair. She is also co-president of the Orange County Jewish Educator Association. Sue also runs educational webinars for the Reconstructionist Movement.