Women’s Seder explores old and new Passover traditions

Sunday, March 17, noon–2 pm

Take three of the most enthusiastic, creative, involved, Jewish women in Tidewater.

Ask them to plan a Passover Seder, open to all women in the community.

Tell them they have two hours to share the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt, and challenge them with the task to plan it in a way that will resonate with women of all denominations, both affiliated and unaffiliated.

Kim Fink, Amy Lefcoe, and Janet Mercadante agreed to work together to create what they hope will be one of the most memorable events of the year for the Jewish Women’s Outreach arm of the Women’s Cabinet of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Open to all Jewish women and their daughters 16 and older, the 2013 Jewish Women’s Outreach Seder will be held at the Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community and costs $10 to help offset the cost of the kosher lunch.

“Our goal is to reach out to women in the community and share an experiential, enlightened retelling of the Passover story together,” says Fink.

“There are a lot advantages to having a community seder, because just as each one of us comes to the Passover table each year with different ‘ears,’ because of our experiences and growth, here we’ll be looking at what we can share. And for those who will celebrate Passover again with their families or friends, maybe they’ll learn or hear something they can take back and share at their own Seders,” she says.

Fink, Lefcoe and Mercadante reflect the makeup of the women who will attend the Seder. They are all affiliated with different synagogues and practices: Fink is Reform, Lefcoe is Orthodox, and Mercadante is Conservative.

“We are very aware that we have to be respectful of all perspectives, and all faiths and followings,” says Fink. “It is a balancing act that is our challenge and also our pleasure, and our plan is to combine both sacred things and interpretive things that women can savor, and take to create their own traditions.”

The women have chosen In Every Generation: the JDC Haggadah as the book they will follow in retelling the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.

“This Haggadah is both old and new,” writes Rabbi Joseph Telushkin in the book’s foreword. “Old in the sense that it contains every word of the traditional text that has guided and inspired Jewish life for generations. And it is new in the sense that it demonstrates, through vivid photographs and delightful commentary, how the Seder and its themes continue to be lived and relived in our contemporary world.”

Fink says this particular Haggadah was chosen because just as the story of Egypt was about freeing people from slavery, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is committed to helping people, wherever they may be, and lift them out of danger, out of slavery, out of misery, and into freedom.

“One of the hallmarks of Jewish education is that it is done best in group settings,” says Fink. “And I know that is what we will all do at this Passover Seder—we’ll learn from each other.”

For more information or to RSVP for the Jewish Women’s Outreach Seder, call Patty Malone at 757-965-6115, or email pmalone@ujft.org. For other Women’s Cabinet outreach events, visit www.jewishva.org.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford