Is our Charedi seder dif­fer­ent from oth­ers?


WE BE­GIN af­ter night­fall.

The table is re­splen­dent in white and sil­ver. The mat­zot — our own ver­sion of the mar­mite phe­nom­e­non, in­spir­ing ei­ther love or hate — look ex­tra crunchy. I’m sit­ting in an arm­chair, pil­low propped un­der my left side for lean­ing pur­poses. As free men and women, we are sup­posed to re­cline while we drink our cups of wine, as roy­alty once did.

My fa­ther, as is com­mon at the seder table in Charedi house­holds, is wear­ing a kit­tel — the long white robe also worn on Yom Kip­pur.

Mag­gid, the telling of the story of go­ing out of Egypt, is per­haps the most im­por­tant part of the seder. As a child, this sec­tion seemed in­ter­minable.

At our table, we dis­cuss some ques­tions each year. What does “dayeinu” re­ally mean? How can we pos­si­bly say, for ex­am­ple, that if God had led us out of Egypt, but had not split the Red Sea, that it would have been enough?

We have a spe­cial custom of our own, in­sti­tuted by my fa­ther — prior to ev­ery Pesach he buys a new haggadah, in­tro­duc­ing us to a range of fur­ther in­sights on the re­demp­tion story.

What is it about charoset that speaks to the Jewish psy­che? In our house my mother makes three dif­fer­ent types — Moroc­can, Per­sian and Ye­menite.

The meal is al­ways fan­tas­tic, but we go easy on the wine. There are still two more ha­lachi­cally-man­dated cups to get through, af­ter all. Could they be done with grape juice? Yes? Will I be do­ing them with grape juice? Ab­so­lutely not. There’s noth­ing bet­ter than belt­ing out the tunes of Hal­lel and Nirtzah while drunk with free­dom — or rather, ever-so-slightly ine­bri­ated on Ke­dem or Manis­che­witz.

We usu­ally fin­ish at about 1.30am, which is early by Gold­ers Green stan­dards. It is not un­usual for such sedarim to go on un­til 4am.

“Next year in Jerusalem”, we say. “Next year in a re­built Jerusalem”, say res­i­dents of that city. It is a re­minder that, although we are far away from our pre­vi­ous cir­cum­stances of slav­ery, and the idea of a Pesach in the Holy City is no longer an im­pos­si­ble dream, we still seem far away from the great­est hope of re­li­gious Jews — the com­ing of the Mes­siah and the con­struc­tion of the third tem­ple, and the ul­ti­mate re­demp­tion.

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