Monday, April 06, 2009

note to self

We had a Seder at church last night, an event that has become an annual favorite for many in the parish. This year, however, it was late in the game before I became aware that the person who had been putting the event together and organizing and delegating tasks was no longer in residence. Questions began to be raised in earnest a week ago, and got directed to the chair of our hospitality team. I stepped in front of her to take the shot.

"No, Y is not in charge of the Seder. She has other responsibilities and it would be unfair to overload her with this one as well." Fortunately I didn't have to twist any arms to assign a new chairperson. After K said that she would call D (chair of yore), and pursue some other queries, she voiced, "well, I guess I'm in charge."

Everything got done, although there was some last minute scrambling to address one critical thing: wine (no, liquor stores are not open on Sunday). And though it was a pleasant evening and we all learned or were reminded of symbols and stories related to our Judeo-Christian heritage, there are a few details that would improve the experience. I have begun a list so that when next year rolls around we will have things in place in good time, and in good order.

Seder debrief

--Designate one person to be in charge
-- Without being the person in charge, know the answers to all the questions (you’re going to be asked)
--A great idea: someone suggested getting a bin (with a lid) into which all the appropriate Seder materials would go: Seder plate, Elijah cup, booklets, yarmulkes (it’s time we got our own and didn’t rely on Herb to provide them—there will come a time when he will no longer be doing this). Tape a list to the underside of the lid that lists the contents, as well as the storage location of other, larger items (like tablecloths).
--Draw a diagram of the table arrangements.
--Know how many tables and chairs we have and how many we can seat in the undercroft. At some point we will max out.
--Make a note to coordinate a set-up and clean-up team
--Keep a menu handy, with recipes if necessary
--Arrange for childcare, and talk about ways to incorporate kids (as I recall, this meal is very much about kids!)
--Consider a separate children’s menu, if necessary
--Streamline the program so there is less redundancy and more participation
--Consider brisket as an alternative to lamb
--Consider alternatives to all the dishes except those with symbolic significance
--Add matzoth ball soup
--Take reservations so we know how many people to expect
--Use table arrangements that encourage conversation
--Use hospitable tableware (not styrofoam plates and plastic utensils)
--Place at each table: decanters of wine and grape juice, finger bowls and a towel
--Acquire wine glasses (think Old Time Pottery)
--Set table with pitchers of water and water glasses
--Don’t leave the wine to the last minute
--Consider having music
--Is there anything we can do to improve the lighting?
--Put all information into a booklet to serve as a resource

I hope that covers it. I'll be listening to hear what others have to say.


Jayne said...

Well, I am impressed you all had a proper Seder at all on such short notice! And, now you KNOW what to do next year! :c)

Pam in Moncton said...

We did a Seder at our church for a couple of years but haven't done it in a while. I found it such a wonderful way to explore our heritage and the meanings behind so many symbols we sometimes take for granted. Good work getting that all together! Good ideas for next year too.

Sophia said...

Many women now add a Miriam's Cup, with water, to Elijah's cup of wine, so both a female and male prophet are represented. There is a beautiful picture book called that which you can find on Amazon. It tells her story from the bible and midrash, including the miraculous well which God gave her in the desert.

You might also consider modifying the name and the ritual a bit to make clear that it is a Christian adaptation of the ritual....I always worry a bit about churches doing Seders--many people find it meaningful but some Jews are very offended by their ritual being appropriated. (As, I have to admit, I might be if they or others decided to have a Eucharist to learn more about Christianity).


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