Beth & Valerie at Passover Seder - photo by 7 year old Erin
Jenni, Maiya & I with Elijah's Cup at Passover Seder - photo by Erin
Last Sunday, May 1st, was Maiya's first, oops, second Passover Seder. Her first Passover was at my godsister Beth's house in Torrance on April 23. We had a great time seeing my godmom, Valerie; Beth's husband Brian and their daughter Erin along with about 8 of their friends. There was matzoh ball soup, four types of kharoses and delicious chicken and brisket. Oh, and the chocolate covered macaroons were righteous. I'm glad we were invited because with Mom and Don now living in Idaho, we didn't have a place to go this year. This could have been a bummer now that we have Maiya. I want to make sure she gets culture and history from both sides of the family. Like New Year's Oshogatsu, we may need to start taking the responsibility to host Passover ourselves.
Me & Maiya (3 months old) at the Workmen's Circle for the May Day Seder
So back to May 1st--we went to the Workmen's Circle May Day Seder over on Robertson Blvd. It was the first time I'd been to a community seder. I've had my eye on the Workmen's Circle since I first heard of them because of their secular emphasis on Jewishness and social justice. In this year's Hagode, they describe the organization as: "a progressive Jewish cultural and social action organization, advancing democratic frontiers, strengthening civil rights, promoting universal health care, and opposing bigotry and tyranny, working to preserve the unique legacy and beauty of Jewish and Yiddish culture." I'm down for that.
Throughout the meal their very own Mit Gezang Yiddish Chorus and Voices of Conscience Social Action Chorus led us through a variety of English and Yiddish songs like one dedicated to the courageous resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. One very cool part was when they sang Earl Robinson's "May Day Song" and showed an old photo of Paul Robeson singing with the Earl Robinson Singers. One of the singers in the photo is now in the Workmen's Circle choir and it was touching to see him still doing his thing on stage. I guess the historical connection was also meaningful because Jenni and I thought about naming our child Robeson if we had a boy.
Approximately 80 people were there and all of us shared in the reading the Hagode. They said it was their largest turnout in a while. The food was tasty (the choice between brisket, chicken, salmon or veggie plates) and the more common list of 10 plagues that visited Egypt, was replaced with plagues on hunger, homelessness, hatred, ignorance, totalitarianism, greed, war, disease, poisoned air, water and earth, and the nuclear shadow over our lives. At the end we sang the Anthem of the Workmens' Circle and The Internationale with updated words by Billy Bragg and revised by Workmen's Circle Executive Directer, Eric Gordon. Great stuff.
For more info check out the Workmen's Circle website for interesting programing like upcoming Cuban films, art shows and a Jewish take on animal treatment and vegetarianism. http://www.circlesocal.org/300.html