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March 30, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 30, 2012 Seder can be splendid the second time around By Suzanne Kurtz WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Rabbi Stuart Rosenblatt, a suburban Washington spiri- tual leader, jokes that "The second night of Passover was invented because God knew there would be in-laws." The first seder may last late into the night as the ancient story is told, the questions are asked and the blessings recited. Butwhen it is over--if you live outside of Israel-- many will have an encore the next night. In ancient times, before the days of a set calendar, a second seder was added to the celebration of Passover to ensure that Jews living outside of Jerusalem would get the notice in time that the holiday had begun. In the modern world there is hardly any doubt overwhat day of the week that Passover falls or when to begin celebrating holidays. But Mark Leuchter, professor of Jewish studies at Temple University, says today there are more symbolic rea- sons for maintaining the tra- dition of preparing a seder on the second night of Passover. "The second seder gives us an opportunity to affirm our identity as Jews in the diaspora," Leuchter says. "It's an affirmation of our ability to thrive outside Israel." While that may be so, is it still necessary to conduct a repeat performance of the first night? Rosenblatt says that spend- ing the second seder with different people either at home or by attending a community seder at a synagogue is one way to ensure that the evening is different from the previous one. He also suggests using a different Haggadah for the second seder to help bring out different aspects of the Passover story. "The Haggadah we use today is not the one Moses and the Children of Israel used. It has evolved over time and is a product of cen- turies of innovation," says Rosenblatt, of Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Potomac, Md. Contributing commentary Laurie Blumberg-Romero Creating a colorful table can add some spice to the second- night seder. and fostering discussions is also encouraged, he said, adding that "whoever adds to the [Passover] story is to be praised." Jamie Jakobowitz appreci- ates the opportunity of having two seders in order to spend quality time with both her family and her husband's. The suburban Philadelphia social worker doesn't mind reciting the entire hagaddah again on the second night. "As an adult I love it," she says. Jakobowitz does admit, however, that it can be "try- ing" to have her two small children sit through several hours of plagues and prayers two nights in a row. To help families combat seder fatigue, the Union of Reform Judaism will host a one-hour webinar this month with suggestions for infus- ing some creativity into the Passover seder by adding new melodies, customs, questions and an interactive plague kits. The purpose, says the URJ's Rabbi Rex Perlmutter, is to help people "go beyond the Haggadah" during the seder. In addition, Cantor Alane Katzew, the worship and music specialist at the URJ, en- courages activities for children at a seder such as performing skits and acting out scenes from the Haggadah, as well as incorporating a favorite love song that can serve as a compliment to the traditional "Song of Songs." Families can also look to dif- ferent cultural backdrops for ideas when making something as simple as the charoset, says Katzew. She recommends finding inspiration in the cul- ture of Jews from places such as India, Italy or Morocco by using less traditional ingredi- ents like bananas, cranberries, cloves and even different nuts in the dish. "There are lots and lots of ways to be creative," Katzew says. "Begin with your own passion and whatever it is that might have relevance to you and will help bring [you] forth from a personal Egypt." For Rabbi Michelle Green- berg, the second night of Passover has become a more intimate affair than the first evening. While she will at- tend the first seder with lots of friends and family, on the second night it is usually time saved for her father and step- mother. Together they recite all of the traditional Passover blessings before beginning a discussion on a theme like personal freedom or gratitude. "We talk about our lives, but in the context of a seder," says the Jewish educator from northern California. And over the years, the discussions have helped bring the family closer, she says, yet at the same time fulfilling the religious obliga- tion of retelling the Passover story. "We use the Haggadah and also our own lives," Greenberg says. "Passover is all about the story, but writing one's self into the story." TASTED SO GOOD. This Passover, whether you choose to celebrate with us or in the comfo of your own home, let Too Jay's do the preparation for your holiday meal. From all of us at Too Jay's, we wish you and yours a Good Pesach. 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