Feminist Seder Serves Up Traditions

By Kadin, Deborah | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

Feminist Seder Serves Up Traditions


Kadin, Deborah, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Deborah Kadin Daily Herald Staff Writer

Jewish women for generations have felt like they spend more time in the kitchen instead of at the table when the family sits down for the traditional Passover seder.

Stories of Moses' sister, Miriam, and Jochabed, his mother, - among others - will take their place at the table Sunday at Congregation Beth Shalom in Naperville when women throughout the Western suburbs gather for the area's second feminist seder. The event, sponsored by Hadassah of DuPage and Will counties, will be at 3 p.m.

"We are telling the stories of our foremothers and how they influenced us," said Barbara Lipkin of Naperville. "We are making a difference in how our children view a woman's role in the Jewish family."

The event brings a different flavor to the tradition of passing the story of the Exodus from one generation to the next.

Similar observances are scheduled before or toward the end of the eight-day observance of Passover. The holiday begins this year at sundown April 16.

Other women's seders will be at Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove and Congregation Beth Tikvah in Hoffman Estates.

Last year's seder in Naperville drew 60 women who sang, shared in sisterhood and feasted on tales about the Jewish women who also made a difference in society.

"It was warm and joyous," said Lauren Sharp of a Glen Ellyn, who also is helping coordinate this year's seder. "Instead of watching the action, they became part of it."

Many who attended said it was so cozy that the event seemed more like a gathering of friends than a seder, said Lipkin, who is the chairwoman for this year's committee.

The coziness prompted her to suggest using her painting of a group of women called "Girlfriends" to grace the cover of the program.

"It's perfect," Lipkin said. "It seems like an intimate moment in the lives of some friends. The whole purpose of the feminist seder is to create a venue to get together and share ideas and knowledge. And we have."

Organizers are expecting a large crowd, which they hope will include Jewish students from area colleges.

"We want them to share the experience and help strengthen their Jewish connection," Lipkin said. "This will help them get involved with the community."

Feminists in the Jewish community in the 1970s began re- examining their own roles in intellectual, religious and spiritual life in their faith. That was the spark that led to the first women's seder in 1973 in New York City. Noted feminists Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug and Letty Cottin Pogrebin took part.

From that experience, women began recasting some elements of the service to make it more meaningful and more inclusive for women.

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