The Beaker of Privilege: A New Seder Ritual

For the last number of years my brother has been hosting Passover Seder at his home in Newton Massachusetts. His friend Jonny Garlick has joined us each of those years for seder. Jonny is a Professor of Oral Pathology at Tufts, absolutely fascinating, and an amazing educator.  It is a joy having a creative scientists that brings so much to the table. A few year’s ago he brought man-made tissue to the seder. As we passed it around and played with it we explored the flexibility and durability of our skin as compared to the rigidity and fragility of Matzah.

Having a hands on discussion seems to be the heart of the educational platform of the seder. Of course the seder is all about questions, but it is also all about staging a reenactment. If we have not experienced ourselves having been liberated from Egypt we will not have fulfilled the mitzvah of telling the Passover story.

So when Jonny showed up last year I was not surprised to see that he brought a bag with him to the seder. At first it seemed rather simple as he pulled two beakers out of his bags. In one of them there was purified water that his students had made for him. In the other was something much darker. Then he proceeded to explain how he got his students to facilitate the water coming out of the pipes in Flint Michigan. Jonny explained the horrible health impact of drinking water with all of this metal and other nasty stuff in it. Passing around this beaker all of us young and old had a discussion of what would we do if this kind of water was coming out of our facets. Would we stand for it? What kind of privilege do we take for granted that this is our response? What is the nature of slavery that you do not even feel empowered to advocate for yourself? What was the role of water in the life and liberation of Mosche and the Israelite people?

Jonny was really on to something here. If done correctly the Passover seder can be the best of experiential Jewish education. How do we make the seder relevant today for people of all ages? Should we have a beaker of dirty water on our seder table this year again? Maybe something else? What will we bring to the Seder this year that will make this night different then all other nights?



1 Response to “The Beaker of Privilege: A New Seder Ritual”

  1. 1 Liberation from Lockdown | Said to Myself Trackback on April 12, 2019 at 1:41 pm

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