Welcome to the Cantor’s Canvas! I love and am endlessly fascinated by Judaism, music, and knitting. All three provide real soulful sustenance for me. The Cantor’s Canvas will be a space for me to share my musings on any of the above topics and more. I invite you to engage with me on these topics, to share your ideas, and to participate in the discussion.
I will begin with a rant… that will become a rave. I hate model seders. I never could understand why we need them and why so many communities have created them. The seder is a lesson in itself. Properly observed, a seder will be fun, informative, and engaging. It should be unique. It should stand alone. It was for this reason that I was so unhappy when, several years ago, the Women’s Club of Temple Beth Torah asked me to help them with their women’s seder to be held in the weeks leading up to Passover.
I explained my objections to the women, but didn’t want to outright refuse. Instead, I told them what I would require if they really wanted my help. The women’s seder, I suggested, should be a ritual of preparation for Passover. There should be no blessings containing the words, “…asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav…” because nothing that we would be observing would be a mitzvah. Matzah, if served, should be served alongside crackers, so that people would be able to reserve their first taste of matzah for the actual seder, and the reasoning behind this should be clearly explained. All lines in the seder that explained ritual action should talk in the future tense (“the maror that we will eat…”)
To my great surprise, the women agreed to my terms and we worked together to create a seder of preparation for Passover. Thanks to the beautifully spiritual writings of Shelle Goldstein, and her willingness to humor me, I am pleased to say that this is a seder that I can participate in with pleasure! Unlike other model seders, I don’t leave this one feeling like I have already “done” Passover, but rather that I am now spiritually ready to embark on my Passover preparations.
This is what a model seder should be.
What is a “model” seder?
A model seder is basically a seder that takes place before Passover and is meant to serve a purpose other than Passover worship. It seems to be that model seders take two main forms. Religious school seders help prepare students for the holiday and teach the songs and themes of passover. Women’s seders mark the marginalization of women in society (the general society as well as the religious one) and our struggle for equal rights. They also (hopefully) help us get in the mood to celebrate the holiday.