The Passover Seder is an incredibly powerful example of experiential Jewish education.
Growing up, I remember our family welcoming a diverse collection of extended family and friends to join with us for the two Seders each year. We shared our own family stories and traditions and encouraged others to share theirs.
The design of the Seder provides the freedom to generate questions and discussion. And my father, of blessed memory, always explained to our guests the vital importance of asking questions throughout the night and he always sought a variety of answers from around the table. He taught us, through this example, that we were privileged to have the freedom to explore, to challenge, and to be open to a range of perspectives and opinions. From him, we learned to appreciate that this freedom requires a life-long effort! Each year, we measure our growth as we return to the beautiful, festive table a little older, perhaps more experienced, but each of us still on our own journeys.
To me, the ritual of the Seder clearly mimics the intent of Jewish camp.
Camp encourages curiosity. It is where campers and counselors alike experience freedom to find and explore new interests, enjoy freedom from technology and pressures at home, and experiment with the freedom to become the person they were meant to be. Being in an environment that encourages asking questions also empowers campers and counselors to develop a sense of ownership over themselves and their community, while building life-long skills of independence, self-direction, and analytical thinking.
Just as at our Seders, traditions at camp are formed and passed from one generation to the next, as campers turn into counselors who create new stories and experiences for their own campers.
As you prepare to gather at the Seder table with family and friends, I hope you will reflect on the powerful opportunity we have to create and share this joyous, positive Jewish experience. And just as campers and counselors find new meaning in participating and enhancing camp traditions year after year, I hope we can all find and bring meaning to our Passover Seder in new ways.