The Passover seder, designed by and for women

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Women dance during the sisterhood/zhava annual women's seder at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Women dance during the sisterhood/zhava annual women's seder at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County in Bethesda, Md., on Sunday, March 22, 2015. Religion News Service photo by Sait Serkan Gurbuz

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BETHESDA, Md. (RNS) At Passover, Jewish women will enjoy seders with their families, but increasing numbers are adding an all-women's seder to their holiday celebrations.

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  • Lauren,

    Thanks for a wonderful article. Very well written. I appreciate the details you provide. I did not know that Seder means ‘order’ – fascinating.

    Regarding the ritual, I’m conflicted. On one hand it is a beautiful thing to pass down a constructive tradition, to empower women to discuss the meanings of their Torah, to share time together – all of that is good.

    But on the other hand these fables work best if everyone understands that it is not real. The young girls featured in this story are too young to fight the claims that Yahweh is real.

    There is nothing at all wrong with gathering together in a ritual, sharing the meanings of old texts – as long as everyone understands that belief in a god is OPTIONAL and such beliefs should be discouraged!

  • Garson Abuita

    Thanks Max. You’d probably like these seders more than the traditional ones, which emphasize that the Exodus was performed not by human hands but by God’s power alone. Moses is mostly ignored. But even there, many of the participants don’t necessarily see the Exodus as true history but instead focus on other themes: freedom from all kinds of slavery, stopping hunger, the historical persecution of the Jewish people, the curiosity of children, personality types, a utopian or “messianic” future. Or just google “atheist seder,” there are apparently many modern rituals in this regard.

  • Any good discussion about the meaning of a work of art; film, music, a poem or literature suffices as ‘Atheist Seder’ in my book.

    The Bible can be used as a work of art too – and just as it would be foolish to think the wolf from the three little pigs will really huff and puff and blow your house down – it would be just as foolish to think god is real or that he will send people to hell.

    Anyone immersed in culture – as many of us are – experiences ‘Atheist Seder’ very frequently. Usually at a good restaurant after a trip to the Museum or the movies.

  • malefycent

    I’m confused by your comment. There’s nothing wrong…as long as everyone everywhere teaches religion in accordance with your personal beliefs? Women (and girls) do not require your approval to celebrate any way they choose. Nor does it make sense for you to decide that you know anything about such celebrations when you’ve clearly not been a participant. For what it’s worth, I have. And not that it’s any of your business, but I personally do not believe in deities. That’s my personal belief. And being part of many religious observances did not in any way interfere with that. But that’s MY personal belief. To say that it should be imposed on others, to say that other beliefs “should be discouraged” makes you no different from any sort of believer, any theist, who tries to force his (or her) opinions and practices on others.
    This is a perfectly nice article, and I’m happy that you appreciate learning new things…but there’s a GREAT deal more to the holiday. And fable? More…

  • Malefycent,

    Fables become cancerous garbage the moment you lie to a child and tell them they are real. Yahweh is fine as a metaphor – like the Big Bad Wold in the Three Little Pigs – but not real.

    Do you have the right to be arrogant and preach this stuff as “real” to poor unsuspecting kids? sure you do. Thanks to the constitution – it is called freedom of religion. I defend your right to do so.

    But don’t think I could respect such an evil act. If you have no evidence to prove that God is real, you are lying in saying so.

  • Hershel

    Please add a glass of water to the seder table – to represent Miriam’s well.