by Rachel Shaw, Judaics teacher

On the Fourth of July, our Judaics classes conducted Seders, drawing a parallel between the American celebration of independence and freedom and the Passover narrative commemorating the Jewish exodus from Egypt.  Our Seder was complete with a Haggadah and a Seder plate reminding us of our history, heritage, and freedom.

Our Seder began with the singing of the Pledge of Allegiance to the traditional tune of Kadesh, Urchatz, the order of the Passover Seder.  It was quickly followed by Kadesh, our first of three cups of Powerade (red, white, and blue), Carpas, in which we dipped salty pretzels into sweet icing, and Korech, in which we made sandwiches of pretzels, icing, blueberries, and raspberries.  Our meal consisted of jelly beans, and campers used five different flavors to create spin-offs on classic American recipes. In between all this sugar, as part of Maggid, we looked at the Declaration of Independence as one would study a page of the Talmud.  

When I celebrated Passover with my family in April, I found myself disappointed by our discussion of the Four Children, feeling like there was nothing new to add to the conversation.  But our Fourth of July Seder included the following prompt: “The ____________ Child Asks: Am I free? Are you free? Are we free yet? What about ______________ ?” Filling in the first blank, campers wrote everything from “Truthful” to “Scared” to “Homeless” to “Cynical” to “Patriotic”.

Our Seder concluded with a challenge to the campers to write a version of “Who Knows One?” appropriate to the Fourth of July.  They came up with 1 country, 2 World Wars, 3 branches of government, 4 international territories, and 5 freedoms of expression.  And 7 letters in America, 10 amendments in the Bill of Rights, and 13 colonies. You can fill in the gaps!