Things to Talk About
(Somewhere in your Seder ask one of these questions and see how people react. If you don't want to rely on someone's actually responding, type the following questions on small pieces of paper. Fold them up, pass them around your table, have people read aloud the question they've got, and ask them to respond. Obviously, the responses can be serious or playful. It depends on your audience. Either way you can't lose.)
One - What if "Bitter Herb" is your brother-in-law? How should he be treated at the seder?
Two - What do Passover and Easter have in common? Spring festivals? Eggs? Redemption? How do they differ?
Three - Will your great-grandchildren be sitting at a Passover Seder?
Four - Roasted egg, maror, pesach (shankbone), karpas, charoset...Which symbol on the Seder plate do you think is the most important?
Five - It is traditional for the youngest person at a Seder to ask the Four Questions. If you were to create a new "tradition" for the asking of the Four Questions, who would you choose to ask the questions and why?
Six - Tradition says that Elijah the Prophet is supposed to announce the coming of the Messiah. If you could send Eliyahu Ha-Navee to any spot on the globe to make the announcement of the Messiah, where would you send him?
Seven - If Barak Obama or Daisuke Matsuzaka or Jon Stewart of The Daily Show (or anyone else you want to name) came to the Seder, which Seder symbol or ritual would you want to show them first?
Eight - Should the Ten Plagues be part of the Seder? Some people say they're part of tradition and so they should be included. Others say the Plagues lead us to exalt in the adversities suffered by the Egyptians. That's not appropriate. Others say that Jews take a drop of wine from the cup for each plague. That acknowledges that freedom was won at a cost. But do we believe in a God who punishes people? Would God slay the first born? What do you think?
Do you believe that we can eventually eradicate wars, poverty, and starvation?
Or do you believe that no one really cares about anyone but themselves, and
that we will always be stuck in some version of the current mess? Or do you
think that such a belief is, itself, part of what keeps us in this mess? If
so, how would you suggest we spread a more hopeful message and deal with the
cynicism and self-doubt that always accompanies us when we start talking about
changing the world?
What experiences have you had that give you hope? Tell about some struggle
to change something, that you personally were involved in, which worked. What
did you learn from that?
Eleven - Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine, teach that even the most wicked and deceitful people today are as equally created in the image of God as anyone that you love and respect, and that our task is to challenge the policies but to continue to respect and treat as embodiments of the God the people who are carrying out evil policies. Can you hear this teaching? If not, what stands in your way?