Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Passover Seder

Seder Plate

One of my coworkers told me that I was weird the other day. Then he corrected himself to say it wasn’t that I was personally weird but that I did weird things. (Then he corrected himself again to say, actually, I was weird. Thanks, Sam!)

What prompted this discussion of weirditude? I mentioned that I was going to <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder”>Passover Seder</a> this weekend (tonight, in fact). My coworker thinks of me, if he does at all, in religious contexts as a Buddhist so it seemed very weird to him that I was going to seder. Also, as it turns out, he’s from Seattle and has never known any practicing Jews, from what I can tell. (I only knew one or two ever, and them through work, when I lived up there so it isn’t just him.)

R’s family is Jewish on her dad’s side so there is a certain amount of Jewishness around, strangely enough. Her father is non-practicing (never has practiced, as far as I know) but others in the family do practice. We were invited by a family member to attend seder and, while it seemed polite to come, it is also something that I enjoy. As a weird spirituality kind of guy (my master’s thesis is on the soul beliefs of a secret society…), I find the idea of attending religious ceremonies or events outside of my norm to be appealing. The anthropologist in me finds it fascinating and seder is, in and of itself, pretty interesting for both what it represents and how it has evolved.

It is amusing that a lot of Tibetan Buddhist, “occult”, or Neopagan ceremonies and rituals are kind of “ho hum” for me but something as “normal” as seder is interesting. I’m all turned about or something compared to some people. Of course, if I was invited to hear Pentecostals speak in tongues, I’d probably go to that too. Spirituality and people are endlessly fascinating as long as they aren’t the sort that feel a driving need to make everyone else believe the same way.

Of course, this always brings to mind the amusing story told by my old housemate, Stephen, about how he was invited to seder by his Jewish girlfriend and he didn’t know anything at all about Jews (this was in New York City). So, he showed up with some Chinese BBQ Pork slices, which he proceeded to offer to her father. Apparently, grandpa laughed his head off but dad was not amused… Luckily, we were assigned hardboiled eggs on this occasion.

Updated Post-Seder: Whoa! I don’t think I’ve seen people nearly shouting down family members while others read prayers in Hebrew in the background before. This was a character filled evening. We had the aged grandfather at the main table saying “Bin Laden!” in the middle of things at one point. We have references to “Uteran Slaves” (as in “Uterus”) during discussions of bondage and (largely metaphorical) slaves in the modern world. Our hostess telling one of the kids that he’d better be able to read the Hebrew (when it was his turn to read as it went around) because they’d spent $100,000 on his education, including Hebrew school. Lots of kibbitzing back and forth while the seder was going on. It was just madness in an amusing way at times. The thing was like a whirlwind moving across the seder ritual over time. After a few hours, we did get to eat, though!