Growing up, Passover always puzzled me. It wasn’t because of the annual tradition of complaining about gefilte fish while also consuming it in mass quantities. Nor was it the off-brand chametz-free lasagna my mother insisted on making. It was the ubiquitous we that left me baffled. We left Egypt. We were slaves. 

The adults in my family are all painfully logical people. They knew that we did not, in fact, leave Egypt. So their explanations—that we’re supposed to imagine ourselves living as slaves and leaving Egypt in order to understand where we came from—just didn’t resonate. It left me questioning the foundations of time more than it left me pondering the impact of our roots. 

Now, years later, I know it’s because I never felt that the seder was my own. Our family tradition was to go through about half of it, stop for dinner—my father loudly proclaiming we would finish reading after we ate—and then not reading the rest of it. I connected to my family and friends, but not to the sacred ritual we were enacting. 

In Judaism, it can sometimes feel like upholding tradition and existing in secular society are at odds, fighting a long, winner-takes-all battle to see which way of life will triumph. But I think they are complements to each other, each enhancing the other in countless ways. 

The Riverway Project’s Seder Squad 2020 is inspired by that philosophy. It uses the structure of our sacred rituals but creates space for our contemporary experiences and modern understandings of freedom and redemption. 

Seder Squad teaches the art of hosting seders and all that entails, from welcoming guests to crafting personalized and intentional Haggadot. It’s more than leadership training. You’ll be part of a squad of people who learn and prep together, create and share resources together, and grow together while having a good time.

Joining Seder Squad 2020 does not mean you’re a learned Talmud scholar or have been hosting seders your whole life. It means you’re excited to learn and share meaningful experiences with your community. We will provide you with resources and funding; you provide the creativity and the people! Seder Squad 2019 was a resounding success, reaching 150 people in the community. Thanks to support from CJP Bridge to the Future Grant, we’re thrilled to be accepting applications for the next Seder Squad community in 2020. 

From traditional seders to musical seders to Harry Potter-themed seders, we’ll help you lead the way, with the end result of opening your home up to folks in your community for a night of community, connections and charoset. 

You receive (in support):

  • Support and community from the Seder Squad
  • The opportunity to lead your very own seder
  • Educational resources for hosting 
  • Funding from The Riverway Project and OneTable
  • Learning opportunities to design your own Haggadah; make your own seder or matzah plate with Tova Speter from The MEM Project; explore Sephardic charoset recipes from around the world; and more!

Selected leaders are required to be at the initial leadership training coupled with a Haggadah study on Sunday, March 15, as well as two of the following four sessions:

  • Prep for Passover: Poetry for Your Seder With Rabbi Jacobson, March 26, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Riverway Shabbat Bagel Brunch, March 28, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Seder-Plate Making with The MEM Project, March 31, 6-9 p.m.
  • Charoset-Making From Around the World, April 5, 12-1:30 p.m.

Apply now to learn to do it yourself, but not alone. Applications are open until March 14.

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