Special event: Celebrate Pesach, the holiday of freedom Apr 15 with Shulamit Levine-Helleman

Our first two EUU Virtual Pesach Seders in 2020 and 2021 were both a success, so I am holding one again this year on Friday 15 April starting at 17:30 CET.

A Pesach seder is a ritual telling of the story of the exodus from Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt, ‘Mitzrayim’, means ‘narrow places,’ and for many that has come to mean all those places where people are oppressed. Pesach is a time to remember that no one is truly free until all are free. Our focus will be on how that story of freedom can inspire us to work for freedom for all who are oppressed. We will also look at our own individual journeys of freedom from any place in our own lives where we are pressed down. I have developed a ritual especially for UUs and would welcome any EUU member or friend who would like to participate. I will provide recipes and instructions so that everyone can participate separately together and will lead the seder on Zoom. (Pesach is known in English as Passover.)

I welcome contributions from everyone in the form of poems, songs and reflections on the themes of freedom, spring, and new beginnings. And there will be plenty of time for discussion during the seder.

In order to have the full experience, or at least as close to that as we can using Zoom, it would be helpful to find the ritual foods: matzah, a spring green, a hard-boiled egg, charoset, a bitter herb, salt water (mix your own), and wine or juice. I hope you will be able to find everything. You will also want something handy to use to wash your hands during the seder. Don’t worry if you can’t find something. In that case, do your best to find a substitute.

Matzah is a flat bread, made with only flour and water, which has not had time to rise. Officially, there are 18 minutes from the first drop of water hitting the flour until the finished matzah comes out of the oven. If you do have to substitute, at least find something which has no yeast and which is flat and dry.

Spring Green — Most people use parsley. If you can’t find parsley, try any leafy green as long as it isn’t bitter/pungent.

Charoset — This is a mix of fruits and nuts, and every region has its own recipe. Try typing Charoset/Haroset into any search engine, and you’ll be inundated with recipes for different variations. Pick one and enjoy. I use it as my fruit the entire week, so don’t be afraid to make a full recipe. Closer to the time for the seder, I will choose which recipe I’ll be using for this year, and I will send it to everyone in a follow up mail.

Bitter herb — Most people use horseradish. If you can’t find that, try any bitter herb. Some people use wasabi. Others use things like lettuce or radish.

Then you will want to make a delicious dinner and dessert. To experience Pesach during this evening, make sure your meal does not include yeast or any of the 5 forbidden grains: wheat (except for matzah), barley, oats, spelt and rye. Many Ashkenazic (Eastern and Central European) Jews add more restrictions to this; I do not.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me directly at EUUseder@gmail.com, and I’ll send you the Zoom link as well as some special Pesach recipes.