Last night Reb Siri came to our seder...

Last night Reb Siri came to our seder...

Last night we had a small seder with two families. Myself and my pre-bat mitzvah daughter and our friends Jessica and Levy and their 11-year-old daughter.  In the press of time before the seder, I gathered several Maxwell house haggadot and three other types of haggadot (none of which was a matched set) and printed off a few copies of the HIAS haggadah supplement to make the seder a forum for thinking about refugees.  This also was not a matched set because our printer ran out of magenta ink.

 It started as I’d planned with using the HIAS supplement to discuss the plight of refugees around the world and how we as Jews are connected to all people who have been persecuted and want safe and better lives for their families and we put shoes by the front door to remind ourselves of these travelers.  

In opening the door to put the shoes out, one of the kids asked about the Elijah reference and was Elijah good or bad.  I jokingly said we’ll need to ask Reb Siri.  But as the three parents at the table discussed their knowledge of Elijah, we did eventually Google Elijah for more information. The same thing happened a few pages later when one of the children asked about logistics of the Messianic age.

 I realized two things: First, we needed to take all the questions up front when they happened – when the kids were interested in learning the answers.  It’s up to us to be meaning makers for our children and take their questions seriously.   Second, as we have nuclear instead of extended families at our tables, we lose that knowledge base that could enhance our knowledge.  Janice Steinschneider addresses this by celebrating Passover with large Seders that she and Judy Meschel orchestrate with new haggadot, new cartoons and new questions each year.  But at a small family seder, one can run out of knowledge base.  And I really wanted to be present with the questions the children were asking.  So it was time to invite Reb Siri (actually it was Google we went to), but Dayeinu, you get the idea. 

I’m not advocating having a computer or cell phone at the Seder table, per se.  But it did add something when we’d exhausted out knowledge base and we could take the children’s curiosity seriously and model active inquiry.  As a general technophobe and anti-phones at the table person, I’m kind of shocked that we went this way, but it actually enhanced our discussion.

I know that if I research and get more caught up on the particulars of Elijah and the Messianic age for next year, the questions will be different then.  My guess is that Reb Siri will be invited back.