An orange on the table

Having just been to my first Passover seder, I can’t adequately explain the significance of all the edible and nonedible parts of the elaborate, symbolic meal that marks the one of the most important holidays for Jews.

But I can tell you that at the dinner I went to tonight, there was an orange whose placement on the table was a decidedly feminist act.

Oranges haven’t always been part of the seder, though. JWeekly explains:

[In 1984, Susannah Heschel, a leading Jewish feminist scholar,] was visiting a college in the Northeast where she learned that some of the students had started placing crusts of bread on their seder plates as a way to express the exclusion of women and homosexuals from Judaism.

Heschel thought this was great. But since it violated the Passover dietary restrictions, she decided to modify the act, placing an orange on the plate instead of the bread crust to represent both women and homosexuals.

“The first year I used a tangerine,” the mother of two revealed to the packed room of mostly women and some men. “Everyone at the seder got a section of it and as we ate it we would spit out the seeds in solidarity with homosexuals — the seeds represented homophobia.”

It’s nice to see new traditions incorporated into centuries-old rituals, because inclusion is definitely worth celebrating.

(Photo by Abe Wallin via Creative Commons on Flickr.)

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