Dear WJC Family,
Tami and I want to host you for seder. I mean, we really want to host you at our house for seder. For the last 20 years it has not been unusual for us to have 25-35 people on any given seder night – relatives, friends, congregants, local clergy and various others who found themselves in want of a seder. Last year we were not quite that many – actually we were six. This year we are eight (my parents are coming – hooray!), so that’s a 25% improvement, though still far off our desired mark.
It is so strange to us not to be inviting large crowds for seder, or even a regular Shabbat. Stranger still is the fact that we have never had a “normal” Passover here in Mamaroneck. In some ways it feels like I have been here a long time, but in truth I have only had the privilege of serving this community for a year and a half. So, when one of our office staff asks me where to find the extra haggadahs, I have no idea; and you have no idea that our seders are usually something to remember! We hope that we can remedy that sooner rather than later. In the meantime we are making the most of it, but we look forward to having you over.
One of the things we would always do at one of our guest-filled seders is have the guests bring something – depending on the year it might be a symbolic item or a song, but everyone has something to contribute to the seder conversation. The seder was only as good as the sum of its diverse parts and usually that made it pretty great. For this past New Years I asked you to share a surprisingly good thing from 2020. I did it because I thought sharing would help each of us focus on the positive, but actually I was the one who benefited by basking in the glow of all of your nice memories and events. So, in the tradition of an Arnowitz seder, I am going to try it again. Please reply to this email with a favorite seder custom or memory, or just with what you think of when you think of Passover. Here’s mine: I still laugh thinking about the time we had a decoy afikomen and I will also think of Passover as a time for big diverse seders. Thank you for taking five minutes and letting me know – I have a feeling it is going to make me smile again!
And now for a little Passover Zen – a beautiful tribute to Debbie Friedman by Project Kesher, a group that tries to build Jewish community and advance civil society by developing and empowering women leaders around the world.
It’s not too late to sell me your chametz for the holiday (I will in turn sell it to a non-Jew who will own it for the holiday. In the meantime you seal it away). Just click here and fill out the form, then seal away any chametz products someplace that won’t be easy to reach during the holiday.
There are also a lot of peculiarities when the first seder falls on Saturday night. For a detailed overview of the questions and how to proceed properly, click here
Let’s not forget, before we get to Passover it is Shabbat! We apologize for the technical difficulties during Kabbalat Shabbat last week – we have also found it tricky to juggle starting Shabbat and managing Zoom. So, for the next few weeks we are going to try something new for Friday nights. We will begin Friday evening at 6:00pm on Zoom only (see link below). Cantor Goldberg will pray Kabbalat Shabbat and after that, I will share some words of Torah. We will then shut down the Zoom and invite you to light candles and daven the Maariv service on your own (this is a little like what we used to do last spring). We will see how this goes for the month of April and reassess for May.
Services on Saturday morning will follow our usual schedule (see details below) and because of the seders we will not hold services on Saturday (or Sunday) nights. We will have morning services at 9:15 on Sunday and Monday mornings and havdalah on Monday night at 8:00pm). For more details on services for the “three-day Yom Tov” see the schedule below and you can also click on the link below to view my “Torah Talk” Passover message video.
See you in shul or online,