Got Israel at Your Seder?

Tags: Holidays, Passover, Jerusalem, Tradition, Elana Heideman

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

The Passover Seder is a special experience, a unique observance quite fitting for the Jewish People who pride ourselves on the preservation of our history, both our success and our suffering, through our collective memory.

Each community celebrates with unique customs that reflect its adaptation to life in different countries all over the world. In Israel, each of the Diaspora cultures continues to be represented on Seder Night - Leil HaSeder - ליל הסדר. These customs enrich our understanding and appreciation of the holiday, and they point to the diversity of age-old Jewish traditions that evolved from the cultures in which they were nurtured.

Children in Israel have been singing about the arrival of spring and Pesach for weeks, helping to clean their gan and taking part in a traditional seder. Every restaurant, car, and home goes through a spring cleaning - regardless of how observant one might be. It is tradition. It is our history. And even the most secular Israelis will find themselves at a Passover Seder of some type.

Children's seder, Israel

Children's seder, Israel

Here in the homeland we only have 1 Seder night, while around the world it is celebrated with 2 recountings of the Exodus story. Could it be that, in addition to the halachic reasons, this is so that every Jewish home around the world should have that extra reminder of their home so far away?

As we turn another page of the Haggadah, how can we remind ourselves that this is the story of our return to Israel? Must it wait until the very, very end for the declaration of NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM??

And since we all know how tough it is to find the time and money to get to Israel, can we somehow fulfill this declaration of commitment from wherever we may be in the world?

We sing of the release of the Nation of Israel from slavery, we recount the passing over of the Angel of Death of the houses of the Children of Israel, but within the text itself, it is easy to forget that the questions being asked cannot only connect us with this ancient history, but also of our wanderings and our journey as a people en route to our destination - our ancient home in the Land of Israel.

As we remember Passover

Not only should we ask "How are we to remember the plagues and our escape from bondage?", but we should remember as well the land of freedom to which our destiny is bound.

"Just as in my youth we had a “matzah of hope” to carve out time from the historic ritual to remember the contemporary challenges of Soviet Jewry, we need to use this most popular Jewish ritual to delight in the miracle of Israel’s surviving – and thriving." - Virtual Citizen of Israel Gil Troy

As you prepare for your Seder night(s), let The Israel Forever Foundation bring the Israel Connection to your ceremony!

Click here to download Israel at Your Seder: Celebrating Our Journey to Freedom!

Just as we are to learn of the Passover story and the Exodus from Egypt AS IF WE WERE THERE, so, too, shall we share in the connection to Israel from our corner of the world as if we are there.

What are some cultural customs of our Jewish people on Passover?

Add a reading, or any of the unique Passover traditions celebrated in Israel's diverse culture as evidence of the ingathering of the exiles - from Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Poland, everywhere. Or reflect upon the meaning of Israel to you today. At your seder, awaken a pride in the state for which the exiles from Egypt could only dream.

Act like the Iraqi!

At an Iraqi seder, children hoist bags over their backs, and reenact the journey through the desert.

One child asks, "Where are you coming from?"

"From Egypt," replies another child.

"Where are you going?" the third child asks.

"To Jerusalem" the fourth child smiles.

Honor a Moroccan tradition!

While at the seder, Morrocan Jews pass a seder plate over the head of each person as they recite a Hebrew phrase about fleeing Egypt as a slave. Incorporate this into a nightly ritual for any dinner during the week of Passover!

You can feel personally lifted out of slavery and on your way to NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

Many if not most Israelis have a passion for ecology, thus was born the Ecological Seder. A combination of a celebration of nature, of earth, and our obligation to it, the story of Passover can indeed be intertwined in a most interesting way with the geographical, geological and ecological significance of the Land of Israel.

Israel has opened her doors to refugees from a number of countries seeking asylum from their native country, or having returned to land from which they believe they as descendants of the Tribes of Israel are linked. Take a moment with your family to reflect on both the meaning and challenge of Israel's role as a haven for refugees considering our long history as refugees ourselves.

However you choose to celebrate this important historical event in our nation's history, let it always serve as a reminder of the freedom we have achieved by having returned home to the land the Nation of Israel dreamt of on their journey home and our connection to our ancestral land from near and far.

Happy Passover from the Israeli Navy, credit: IDF tumblr

Happy Passover from the Israeli Navy, credit: IDF tumblr


Incorporate Israel into your Passover today!

About the Author

Dr.  Elana Yael Heideman
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

Tags: Holidays, Passover, Jerusalem, Tradition, Elana Heideman