1Supp cover 3.30.12
1Supp cover 3.30.12

Local seders to serve up more than just gefilte fish

As families around the world dust off their seder plates and raid the supermarkets for their preferred brand of matzah meal, congregations and other Jewish organizations in the Bay Area are preparing to celebrate one of the oldest stories in existence — and many will be telling it in a new way.

What do our modern struggles for economic justice have to do with the ancient Jews’ Exodus out of Egypt? The annual Multicultural Freedom Seder at the JCC of San Francisco, run by the JCC and the Jewish Community Relations Council, has taken the theme “The Three Matzot: Families, Jobs, Justice.” The April 17 seder, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will honor the 100th anniversary of the “Bread and Roses” or “Three Loaves” strike of 1912, in which 25,000 textile workers in Lawrence, Mass., galvanized the U.S. labor union movement.

The 10-week strike was particularly groundbreaking, explained JCRC program associate Laura Rumpf, both because it was largely led by women, and because there was an effort to unite workers of all nationalities. Guest speakers will include representatives from the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants’ Rights and the Asian Law Caucus.

The Kitchen, an indie Jewish community in San Francisco, holds a “Seder Boot Camp.” photo/courtesy of the kitchen

Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe of Temple Emanu-El will lead seder-goers through songs and stories. For more information, visit www.jccsf.org/freedomseder.

On April 10, at the Food Justice Passover Celebration, a joint project of Pursue, Hazon, and the San Francisco Jewish community The Kitchen, attendees will nosh on vegetarian and slow food–inspired fare and local, sustainably grown wines as they learn about the meanings behind the items on the seder plate, and connect ancient traditions with our current discourse on food.

“We wanted to create an experience that connected this old story of liberation to our more modern fight for food justice,” explained Erica Hymen, a program officer at American Jewish World Service, the umbrella organization for Pursue. “We want it to be interactive, something that provokes discussion — whether it’s about farm workers’ rights, or the way we deliver food to foreign countries, or the food issues facing our local communities. There’s a Jewish connection to all of it.”

The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Golden Gate Room at the Fort Mason Center. For more information, visit  www.pursueaction.org/food-justice-passover-celebration.

Here are some other interesting seders and Passover activities, listed by region:


San Francisco

At the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the third annual “Out of Order Seder” includes an “alternative enactment” of the seder rituals. Ari Y. Kelman, Jim Joseph Chair in Education and Jewish Studies at Stanford University, will lead, with musical guests and community leaders including composer Jewlia Eisenberg of Charming Hostess and performer Amy Tobin, as well as the West Coast premiere of “Projecting Freedom,” a series of three-minute cinematic interpretations of the haggadah. 6:30-10:30 p.m. April 11 at the CJM. www.thecjm.org.

Chabad of San Francisco and Chabad of Pacific Heights are teaming up to host a “luxury Passover seder” at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. photo/courtesy of the fairmont hotel san francisco

The Old World Food Truck, a pop-up enterprise that serves Eastern European and Jewish fare, will hold three seders, one on April 6 at 7:30 p.m., and two on April 7 at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at La Victoria Bakery in the Mission District (the earlier option on April 7 is family-friendly). All will feature Hillel sandwiches, roast lamb leg, matzah ball soup and more. BYOB. www.oldworldfoodtruck.com

The Chabads of Pacific Heights and

San Francisco will host “A Luxury Passover Seder” at the Fairmont Hotel San Francisco. A “5-star” Passover experience will include a gourmet four-course meal, hand-baked shmurah matzah and more. 7 p.m. April 6. www.chabadsf.org.

Wise Sons Delicatessen is holding three seders at its new permanent location in the Mission District, but all of them are sold out. Take-home options are still available, including mock chopped liver, homemade gefilte fish and potato kugel. www.wisesonsdeli.com.


East Bay

If you haven’t visited the JCC of the East Bay’s new Oakland location yet, perhaps now is the time. There will be a community seder there, at 5811 Racine St., at 7 p.m. April 6, led by Rabbi Daniel Lev. The JCC also will host two first-night community seders at its Berkeley location, each led by Rabbi Bridget Wynne. www.jcceastbay.org/holidays.

One of the tables at the 2010 Interfaith Freedom Seder, a project of the JCRC and the Marin Interfaith Council

Congregation Chochmat HaLev of Berkeley presents “The Dance of Freedom: A 7th Night Passover Celebration for Women.” Attendees are welcome to bring drums to celebrate Miriam’s dance to freedom on the last night of Passover. Stories and music with Rabbi Diane Elliot, Debbie Fier and Estelle Frankel, a psychotherapist and Jewish mysticism educator. 7 p.m. April 12. www.chochmat.org.

In Berkeley, Saul’s Delicatessen is offering both a take-home seder meal and a sit-down prix fixe option at the restaurant April 7. www.saulsdeli.com/deli/dinner-specials/passover or (510) 848-DELI.

Congregation Kol Hadash is presenting a Humanistic Community Seder at the Albany Community Center. The seder will refocus the traditional Pesach observance to “include the Jewish exodus from Europe and Russia over the last 125 years” and will include a humanistic interpretation of Passover. 6 p.m. April 7. www.kolhadash.org or (510) 428-1492.


North Bay

The theme of last year’s “Out of Order Seder” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum (pictured here) was “Questioning Questions.” photo/courtesy of the cjm

The Interfaith Freedom Seder (a project of JCRC and the Marin Interfaith Council) will include reflection on the pursuit of social justice, and how the Passover story relates to other historic and modern struggles for liberty. Rabbi Chai Levy of Congregation Kol Shofar and the Rev. Rob Gieselmann of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will lead. 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 2 at the Osher Marin JCC, San Rafael. www.marinifc.org/content/community or (415) 472-5128.


South Bay

At Congregation Etz Chayim in Palo Alto, three simultaneous seders will be taking place in three different rooms on April 6 starting at 5 p.m. Rabbi Ari Cartun will lead the Glee Seder with provocative conversation and songs for adults, Rabbi Rachel Solomin will lead a 30-minute hands-on seder with music and games for young children, and rabbinic intern Ilana Goldhaber-Gordon will lead the “On One Foot Seder” for adults and children who like it short and sweet. Each seder will come together for dinner. www.etzchayim.org.

The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto will host a potluck seder for singles in their 40s to 60s. The JCC will provide matzah, kosher wine and seder plates; guests are invited to bring a flourless dish; the meal will not be entirely kosher for Passover. 7-10 p.m. April 7. www.paloaltojcc.org.

At the Addison-Penzak Silicon Valley JCC, a Chocolate Seder will include family-friendly songs, stories and, of course, lots of chocolate. The event is geared toward families with elementary and middle school children. 3-5 p.m. Sunday, April 1. (408) 357-7411 or [email protected]


Outside the area

Wilderness Torah, the Berkeley-based Jewish environmental education nonprofit, is presenting “Passover in the Desert 2012: Envision Liberation.” From April 11 to April 15, participants will “make Exodus” to a desert campsite near Death Valley National Park for four days of music, readings, songs and optional activities (such as yoga and study groups). Breakfast and dinner will be served communally. www.wildernesstorah.org.   

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is a former J. staff writer.