Seder night without the politics

April 26, 2011 by

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We ended up having a beautiful Seder last week.

As the traditional leader of the Seder, I made an amazing discovery this year. You don’t need to always mix politics in with the ritual. Every Seder night we would end up in arguments about Gilad Shalit and Israeli policy towards Palestinian prisoners, or who is Pharaoh these days, and how we should relate to the ‘pour out your wrath’ bit.

This year we went for something different. We read the Haggadah, sang the songs, and any extra readings we added were about hospitality, or children’s upbringing and development. We ate, we drank, the kids had fun and so did we.

I was struck by the telling comment of Ian McEwen on receiving the Jerusalem Prize for Literature the other month. He remarked: “I would say as a general principle that when politics enters every corner of existence, then something has gone profoundly wrong.”

He may have a point. It is powerful and even addictive the way that Israel has drawn Judaism into real life and realpolitik. But it’s not always healthy. Sometimes a festival can be a festival without being a metaphor for current affairs.

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