Hello, this is Sima
By: Sima Auerbach
This year we had a new guest at our seders – our new granddaughter Edythe Jean – who was not up to reciting the Four Questions yet, but who was content to simply smile or sleep. Life is easy when you are 2 months old. As I thought about Edy while preparing for the seders, I couldn’t stop comparing her world to the one I was born into and the one my children were born into. No Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or instant 24-hour news and weather. This contemplation led me to question other changes. Since I was thinking about Passover, I couldn’t help but wonder, “What are the plagues of today?”
I like to do something different each year at my seders so this year, I taped a white sheet of oak tag on the living room wall (where the seders are held) and asked each person regardless of age (the participants were aged 4 and up), “What are the plagues of today?” After we reached the spilling the wine and said dom, tzifardaya, kinin, etc. etc., we then read aloud the list on the wall and talked.
The first night: “Hunger, Torture of Fellow Humans, Echo Chambers, Reality Television, Sexism, False News, Citizens United, Sugar, Mean People, Greed, Racism and Bigotry, Disease, Climate Change, Alternative Facts.” I learned a new term – “echo chambers,” which means only talking to like-minded people. The writer of that term said we are now very divided and we need to talk, engage and hear each other. That wisdom came from a 20-year-old.
The second night: “Private Prisons, Broccoli, School, Intolerance, Antisemitism, Mistrust, Kelly Conway, Gerrymandering, Twitter, Fox News, Addiction to Cell Phones, Inability to Look at Beauty Without Taking a Picture, Need for Immediate Answers and Gratification, When Bubbe Calls You by the Wrong Name.” Broccoli and school came from a 10-year-old and I am the Bubbe mentioned re: names – a factor of age. The discussion went on for a while and interestingly also covered the Egyptian plagues, which our group decided was valid still today. Blood can refer to bombings, terrorist attacks and refugees. All animal plagues could be all the genetically and chemically altered food we eat. Hail can refer to climate change, locusts, the Zika virus, and on and on. We talked about values and what is important. Neil and I have a lot more to think about when we think about what are the important values we want to teach Edy.
And with all of the above, the hagaddah remains relevant today for so many reasons. A 2-month-old, a 5-year-old, a 10-year-old, teenagers, those in their 20s, 40, 50s and 70s all talking together: That is what family is all about, whether related by blood or not. Perhaps that is the miracle of Pesach!