Women’s Virtual Seder
I first became aware of women’s seders when, in my late 20s, I read Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s book Deborah, Golda and Me. At about the same time, my mother’s Rosh Chodesh group began hosting an annual women’s seder. At the first women’s seder I attended in San Francisco, we all sat on the floor on a large white sheet reclining comfortably on pillows. I knew immediately that I was not at a traditional Jewish event – as we all introduced ourselves by our own name and the name of our mother. I am Yocheved bat Sheina Leba.
For each Women’s Seder that I have hosted over the past 20+ years, I created a Haggadah with a theme that represented where I was in my personal life or where those close to me were in theirs. There were times of celebration and times of recovery from illness. There were times tied to beginning a family and others tied to the ongoing pleasures and challenges of raising a family. I have hosted women’s Seders at my homes, at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and at Holy Blossom Temple. 2020 was supposed to be an off year as I generally host the Women’s Seder every other year. All it took was a gentle suggestion from my husband a couple of weeks ago as our world started to shift, and I was all in for this year. Usually, I work on the Haggadah for close to a month – this one came together in less than two days.
In creating the Haggadah, I keep all the basic elements of a traditional Seder. However, I strive to give each element a new and different perspective. I want to honour the women of the Passover story whose names are omitted from most Seders. I do not believe that the Women’s Haggadah should be a “replacement for” – but an important “addition to” – the traditional Haggadah.
I look forward to sharing the Women’s Seder on Sunday afternoon, 2:00 pm EST. This is a time to be virtually connected with others … a time to step back from the routines we have created in this new world … to look inwards and outwards … backwards and forwards.