EDIT (March 16): we have a date!
For the fourth year in a row, the Avocado will be hosting a live online Seder, the traditional service for the Jewish holiday of Passover. It’s an extremely satisfying and wonderful part of the site, and I invite anyone who’s interested to join. As we have in the past, we’ll be using a Discord channel for this.
The date: Saturday, April 8!
The time: 8 PM Eastern / 5 PM Pacific. It will likely go on between two to three hours, but they go by fast. And if you’d like to only be there for part of it, you can come in or leave whenever you’d like.
If you’re unfamiliar, Passover is a weeklong holiday that celebrates the Hebrew people’s liberation from enslavement as presented in the Biblical story Exodus, and a Seder is a daily service done for each night of the holiday. It’s a thoughtful and philosophical event in which we use the story of Passover to explore important ideas, like the roles of traditions in preserving cultural identity, oppression and abuse in the modern world, and the relationships aspects of modernity have with the past. But it’s not a boring or uneventful lecture; it’s filled with energy, humor, and dynamic ways of telling stories. It comes through a series of short segments, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the holiday and which altogether weaves a tapestry of the Jewish experience that’s rarely depicted in popular culture.
This is a hundred percent open. We welcome anyone who’s even slightly interested; it’s not restricted to Jews or the religious or anything like that (in fact, every live Seder thus far has had more gentiles than Jews, and plenty of atheists). Despite this being a religious service, it’s not evangelical or judgmental, or conservative for that matter. We do have a Haggadah, a prayer book used for Seders, but it’s a modern and progressive one. Many of the segments will be presented in a more casual or open way than they traditionally are, though that’s up to their presenter. And if you have time limitations, that’s entirely okay too.
Similarly, while Passover comes with many unique rules and children’s games, our more progressive and open Seder is entirely opt-in. If you don’t want to speak using your mic, it’s more than fine to listen in and just use the chat. If you’d like to follow more of the holiday’s rules, like making a Seder plate or reclining for the entire evening, that’s cool too. For instance, you’re normally expected to regularly sip wine, but as I don’t partake I’ll personally be enjoying grape juice instead (I’ll probably also drink when you’re not asked to sip. I drink a lot!).
The only rules we have are these:
- Please keep your mic off when someone is performing a segment. You can still write in the chat—in fact, we wholeheartedly encourage typing comments—and we will have spaces after segments for discussion using voice chat, but just be respectful with your audio.
- Many of the members of our community are trans and nonbinary, so please don’t assign gender to another person in the Seder unless you know them.
- A general request to read the room and not be a jerk. I don’t expect anyone attending to need to know this, but I’d like to include it nonetheless.
Here’s the structure; each segment is performed by one member. You can prepare something more elaborate or extensive, but it’s perfectly fine to just read off the Haggadah we’ve included. Seriously, no judgment here. If you’re interested in hosting, please tell us in the comments what segment you’d like to do and we’ll add you. If not all of them are claimed by the time of the Seder, we’ll have to ask for someone to do them, but if you’re uncomfortable performing for any reason, we won’t ask you to put yourself out there.
- Exposition: how did the Jews come to be slaves in Egypt?
- Cleaning house: Preparing the house for Pesach
- The Seder table and plate
- The order of the night: Kadesh Urhatz, etc.
- Matzah—what the hell is it?
- The Appetizers: Maror, Haroset, Greens, etc.
- Mah Nishtanah—Q&A
- Optional History
- The Four Children
- The Plagues
- The Action Sequence: the Exodus, Moses at the Red Sea
- Dayenu, as if we hadn’t had enough already
- Recap: Have We Explained Gamliel’s 3 things?
- Passover Themes in Modern Life: Modern Slavery, Refugees, Prisoners, and our Responsibilities
Optional History isn’t an official segment. It’s a space that can be used to discuss some special bit of Passover history or its place in the culture. So far, we’ve had the stories Pesach in the Warsaw Ghetto, the first White House Seder, and one year where it went unperformed. It’s okay whether or not we include it, but if you’ve got an idea you’d like to pitch, please do!
Generally, we’ll defer to the host of each segment. There’ll be time in between each one for discussion, but again, please don’t be discouraged from writing a comment in the chat. This is a holiday about discussions and ideas, we’re a community that’s very witty and thoughtful, so scintillating, silly, and smart comments are not just wanted—they’re expected! Afterwards, we’ll also have a live show that’ll be short and easy, and not necessarily even related to Passover.
Anyway, if we’ve piqued your interest, please tell us! If you’re coming, or prefer one date over another, it really helps for us to know that. After all, I’d be remiss if I ate all the macaroons first. I’ll just add in the finalized dates and names of each segment’s hosts as they come. And Chag Sameach, everyone!