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March 14, 2003

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20 Southeastern Virginia Jewish News March 14, 2003 Elijah isn't the only stranger to invite to the seder By Mark L Rosen I still looked forward to going. It was wishing that such an innovation had still had a few hours to go. Reb Shlo- If you are inspired to invite t NEWTON, Mass., (JTA) -- Passover is a holiday of remembrance, a time to recall "and retell the story of the deliverance of the Jewish people from generatiorLs of Egyptian bondage. But there is also a ditiLnent kind of membering that takes place ea Passover, in which memory is , not scripted. We sponta- neously recall, often vividly, the many different setk we have attended over the yea's, both as a child and as an adult. My own menses begin in the early 1960s, when oar family went to a seder or ritual Passover rneal each year held at the Chicago home of my Aunt Fella and Uncle Morris. Almost ever), adult in anendance was fiom Eastern EmW; boredom among the children was rampant. My cousins and 1 would inevitably end up crawling taw the table for a mischievous ren- dezvous, a diswactkm from the relent- less Yldish-accented mcitalion of The Maxwell House . (Literally Wanslated as the telling, the  recalls the Israelite Exodus from EgytX and  the rituals perfom,al at seder:) Evena, our was  by my aunt's amazing l,tssover delicacies. I n ever recall what was going on, but comfoamg and predictable-the same relatives came each year and the same food appeared on the table. Because the seders I attended growing up always had the same cast of characters, it was an exciting break from routine when someone unfamil- iar showed up. One year my older cousin brought a boyfriend, and it noticeably changed the seder dynamic. When I went away to college, it was my mm to become the unfamiliar face when I attended my first ,,eder with a family other than my own. It was then that I reaUy started to ap[xeciate what a mitzvah or good deed it was to extend invitations to strangers, especially those unable to slend the holiday with family. Since then, rve Ixn a guest at many different sealers. It is still a com- forting ritual for me, even though the faces are new, the accents American and the dishes different. But it is never a predictable experience. While the Haggadah is always the mad map, each new seder takes diffent side roads on which I never waveled. It was a marvel the first time I attended a sealer  by Jewish educala. While the seder was lengthy, everything was didst, explained and analyzed. I acquired many new insights and went home fervently been introchaced to my Chicago rela- tives.  seder, early in my career as a "Seder Stranger"caught me by surprise. Still fully in possession of child- hood naivete, I was taken aback when I encountered non-Jews at the table, friends of the host family, qheir ques- tions reminded one of the simple child of the Haggadah, and it ttaned outto be a lovely experience to see  ritual through their eyes. One year, my seder experience was a disappointment. I call this one seder- rite. It was a peun-Xot7 matzah and wine tasting accompanied by a riffling of the Hagg',dah pages that figurative- ly stirred a cool breeze but didn't warm my lrt. In a subsequent year, I was delight- ed and entertained at a seder orches- trated especially for children, with wind-up frogs and finger puppets. Perhaps the most memorable seder I attended is the one I call, both wryly and fondly, the last supper. It was led in Manhatlan by Rabbi Shlomo Car- lebach at his Upper West Side shul or synagogue. Seventy of us from all oyez the counny listened to stories and sang wordless chants unlil three in the morning. When I finally left, the seder mo died the following fall. This seder turned outto be the last one he led. Drawing from my own enriching experiences, I am now an enthusiastic advocate of inviting slrangers to one's , Sl"r. Many fatuities do this routinely, reaching out to welcome various cate- gories of Jews as well as non-Jews. Naomi Osher of Newton, Mass., recalls her parents having 20 to 30 people each year at their Cincinnati home, a number of them Christians. Her parents' born-again housekeeper always looks forward to the tz/mmes, a sweet carrot dish. Fred Kahn of Buffalo Grove, Ill., remembers the time as a boy that his mother called the HilM or Jewish Stu- dent Union at Northwestem Universi- ty to see if any students wanted to come. On the night of the seder, seven students from the dental school showed up at the .door, causing the family to scramble for seats and plates. Rabbi Sheldon Ever and his wife, Reva, before immigrating to Jerusalem, made sure each year to invite local widows and widowers who had nowhere to go, drawing from the large elderly population of their Miami Beach neighborhood. On occasion, attendance at their seders was as high as 40. sWanger or many, here are some pie and places you might call to fro guests: Your rabbi, synagogue office, 0t] synagogue located in a neighborla0t that is no longer predominantly JeW" ish, where remaining members likely to be elderly: an assisted living center or geriat home; the Hillel or Chabad House at y0t local college or university; ,. chaplains at local hospitaLs or rr" tary bases. Jewish community centers; food pantries, social service cg/" zations and immigraon organi tions; Reform or Conservative organi tions that conduct classes f verts; and organizations that provide inter" free loans or tzedakah or charity t. the Jewish community. Remember, by opening your to others on Passover, you of mga00hh li0000gy: all who are hungry, come and eat. all who are in need,come and shge Passover meal:' Mark 1. Rosen is the is the author "Thank You for Being Such a Pain: Guidance for Dealing (Three Rivers Press). Reprinted from J Family,:ore, a service of Jewish Family, ? The new Kosher Place Largest Selection of Kosher f()r Passover Products Available in Virginia F00;aturing: Kedem Gefen Em )ire Rokeach Leiber's Heal Mart Largest Selection of Kosher Matzo in 1'( )wnl New management Improved Menu Faster Service Store Hours: Sun. 11 am - 7 pm Mon. 9 am - 7 pm Tues. 9 am - 7 pm Wed. 9 am - 9 pm Thur. 9 am - 9 pm Fri. 9 am - 3 pm Sat. Closed 738 West 22nd Street Norfolk, VA ....  Idler SUlrviskm of the Vaad Hakashrus Phone (757) 623-1770 Fax 623-2237 and the of