When your guests assemble, one of these readings could be the first words used around the table to welcome everyone and set the mood for your gathering.
We are grateful:
For the laughter of the children and the beauties of nature,
For our health and our own life breath
For the abundance of food on this table
And the ones who prepared this feast
For the roof over our heads and the clothes on our backs
For the work that we do and the opportunities to give back to our communities
For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends
For the freedom to pray these words without fear, in any language, among diverse faiths.
And we are mindful:
Of those who may be far from home this year
Who may be without a job, or struggling with illness
Who may be in the midst of conflict or war
Who especially at this season may be feeling the loss of a loved one
And so we pray for healing for them and for each of us
And we say:
May the Creator of All things, the One who makes peace in the heavens, teach us to make peace within ourselves, among ourselves and with all living beings on this planet.
Open Your Senses
The Passover Seder goes beyond words to open the senses.
See the sights of Passover.
See the Seder plate at your dinner table.
See your family and friends gather together.
See your children find the afikoman.
Open your eyes; and welcome the season of spring.
Hear the sounds of Passover.
Hear the singing of your children and parents.
Hear the breaking of the matzah.
Hear your children asking questions.
Listen to our history retold generation to generation.
Taste the flavors of Passover.
Taste the bitter herbs and sweet charoset.
Taste the bread of our ancestors.
Taste the tears and joy of our ancestors.
Savor the flavors of your traditional Passover dinner.
Smell the scents of Passover.
Smell the matzah ball soup.
Smell the gefilte fish and sweet wine.
Smell the new blossoms of spring.
Inhale the smells that fill your home tonight.
Feel the wonder of Passover.
Feel the warmth of glowing candles.
Feel the tradition of family.
Feel the love of God holding your child’s hand.
And feel the joy and blessing of your freedom.
How lucky we are.
How good is our fortune as our Seder begins.
A Toast of Thankfulness
to where we’ve each come from
to where we’re going and how we’re changing
to being where we are and who we are
to what we can share
to what we can’t share…yet
to process, and the times we lose sight of process
to pain, to growth
to painless growth, to painful growth
to our efforts, our faith, our determination
to our fears, ears, laughter, hugs, and kisses
to wisdom, to study, alone and in groups
to our books and tools, to toys
to materials, raw and fine
to work, to meetings, to sleep
to our eyes, which fortunately read Haggadahs
and see mountains
and flowers and bodies
and occasionally sunshine
to our ears, hands, noses, mouths, toes
to caresses, to touch, to our senses
to our knees
to the times we fall down and pick ourselves up
and the times friends help us up
to the shoulders we cry on
to the arms that hold us
to the strength in each of us, alone
to our work
to our play
to our loving
to our growth
to life itself…l’chaim
All Life Needs Is Your Faithfulness
Often, when he came to visit, my grandfather would bring me a present...
Once, in the month of February, he brought me a little paper cup containing some soil. “If you promise so put some water in the cup every day, something may happen,” he told me.
At the time, I was four years old and my lived on the sixth floor of an apartment building in Manhattan. The whole thing made no sense to me. I looked at him dubiously. He nodded with encouragement. “Every day, Neshume-le, my little one,” he told me.
And so I promised. At first, curious to see what would happen, I did not mind doing this. But as the days went by and nothing changed, it got harder and harder to remember the water for the cup. After a week, I asked my grandfather if it was time to stop yet. Shaking his head no, he said, “Every day Neshume-le.” The second week was even harder, and I became resentful of my promise to put water in the cup. When my grandfather came again, I tried to give it back to him but he refused to take it, saying simply, “Every day Neshume-le, my little one.” By the third week, I began to forget the water altogether. Often I would remember only after I was in bed and I would have to get out of bed and water the cup in the dark. But I did not miss a single day. And one morning, there were two little green leaves that had not been there the night before.
I was completely astonished. Day by day they got bigger. I could not wait to tell my grandfather, certain that he would be as surprised as I was. But of course he was not. Carefully he explained to me that life is everywhere, hidden in the most ordinary and unlikely places. I was delighted. “And all it needs is water, Grandpa?” I asked him. Gently he touched me on the top of my head. “No, Neshume-le,” he said. “All it needs is your faithfulness.”
This was perhaps my first lesson in the power of service, but I did not understand it in this way then. My grandfather would not have used these words. He would have said we need to remember to bless the life around us and the life within us. He would have said when we remember we can bless life, we can repair the world. And I agree. Blessing life, loving life is the beginning of a spiritual life.
Rachel Naomi Remen