...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Monday, April 02, 2007

I Dreamed I Met a Galilean (part two)

Erev Pesach: Seder at Harriet's house.

Jewish Renewal is occasionally described as "ecofeminist Hasidism," a label that becomes more and more apt the more familiar one becomes with the tradition. While I'm not an ecofeminist, I'm sympathetic to certain elements of ecofeminist thought, and I have paramount respect and admiration for Hasidism, so Renewal is a pretty great spiritual fit for me.

Harriet is one of the lay-leaders of P'nai Or, Portland's Jewish Renewal congregation. She graciously invited both Helana, another LC student who attends P'nai Or, and me to a Passover Seder at her house. There were about sixtten other guests there, comprised of other women from P'nai Or, people from other Jewish congregations, old friends, and a few other non-Jews. We went around and read the Haggadah together, changing God's pronouns as we went: "Our father/mother God..." Not everyone limited themselves to the four prescribed glasses of wine, so there was a lot of spontaneous discussion, laughter, and niggunim (wordless melodies popularized as a spiritual discipline by the Hasidic masters). Everyone was excited to hear that it was my first Seder and shouted "Mazel Tov!" when Harriet told them. There was another non-Jew, the husband of one of the middle-aged women there; when his turn came to read the Haggadah, he asked, "Am I allowed to?" "Well, of course!" an eighty-three-year-old woman replied. "Whose permission do you need, exactly?"

Memorable moments:

Me: "Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam borey p'ri ha-gafen..." (stumbling over the blessing of the first cup of wine)
Helana: "You're doing good, Honorary Jew."

Helana: "Just so you know, you're allowed to drink all of that cup of wine. It's already been blessed."
Me: "I know, I'm just trying to pace myself."
Helana: "Whatever. Pacing's for the Gentiles."

Next up: Seder with Daniel's family, tomorrow night.