a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self


Posted on: April 20, 2011

According to Google translation  נשימה means breath…And that’s what I’m doing right now, breathing a sign of relief.  Pesach Preparations are over.  Our Seder HUGE success and So Much Fun.

I’m still recovering from the past two nights but I will say that Pesach did, indeed, trump Purim.

First Night

Mirs and I woke up fairly early to start prepping the veggies and salads for our Seder.  We boarded the LIRR and made our way to Long Beach for Pesach at the home of my friend, Liz.  The Seder was wonderful and the people there were warm and inviting.  There were several of us present who were experiencing Seder for the first time.  We were the afikomen searchers but sadly, I did not find it.  We ate gefilte fish that Liz made from scratch, Matzoh Ball soup which was the lightest, fluffiest matzoh ball in existence.  Roasted free-range, organic, kosher chicken and lots of veggies.  And wine.  When the Seder ended we walked to the beach and just enjoyed the smell of the Atlantic, the full moon, the clear sky and the freezing cold sand under our feet.  Liz lead the Seder and has been since it was decided that the family should exile Maxwell Houses Haggadah and use Haggadah that spoke to them as people.  This year she used the Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah 6.0 and it was great to watch her lead and take mental notes for ours as we were using vesion 7.0

Second Night

Again Mirs and I woke up, this time at 7AM to start preparations.  Thanks to our crazy list we were able to get everything done by the time the first guests started to arrive.  I lead the Seder and it went off without a hitch.  As I looked around my table, I realized that it was probably the most diverse table I’ve ever been a part of.  To my immediate right was my friend Jill, a lesbian Jew who’s mother is Israeli.  Next to her was Tamika, a lesbian black woman from Louisiana.   Next to her my friend Jess an “atheist” Jew just back from a long trip to South Africa.  Across from her my friend Candice, a West-Indian Chinese, etc. lesbian “catholic”.  Next to her the seder’s token “white girl” my gay best friend Desiree.  Next to her my Haitian-American friend and ex Jehovah’s Witness.  Next to her one of my conversion class buddies Cecelia, a  black 70-something master hula dance who told us of memories of the Segregated South. Next to her my Latina friend Angela. Next to her a friend of another conversion class buddy, Keya from Bangladesh a Hindu interested in Judaism. Across from her Jezel a West-Indian girl from the Bronx and my conversion class buddy. Next to her Payal our Indian-American Hindu friend, and Miriam, my sweet southern Jewish Bell.  An All-Women’s Seder.  A “mixed multitude” of races, just as mentioned in the Exodus.  A really amazing space.

I asked everyone to bring something to the Seder Table that reminded them of Freedom.  The answers were moving and many people who I didn’t think would share shared the deepest parts of themselves.  There were beautiful words spoken and beautiful and strong women in my home.

The Haggadah, which when read alone in planning seemed stiff and a bit cliche in areas, rang out so clearly and poignant for the space and people present.  I cannot even put into words how awesome it was.  I will just say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the beautiful women who I shared Pesach with this year.

4 Responses to "נשימה"

We used the Velveteen’s Haggadah the first night too. It was a little less Traditional than I think we would have preferred. We skipped a LOT though because of time.

Oh, I’m glad you had a great time. I wish my seder included the ocean!!!! This is why I need to move to Miami 🙂

Sounds great, I’m glad this went wonderfully for you. Your post reminded me to wish a friend of my a happy Pesach too, lol. Relax now, woman! The planning has paid off.

@ Dena-It was very long, we took out at least 15 or so pages. I want to plan ahead next year and start reading Haggadot earlier so I can make my own. I liked this one because it spoke to the group of people there, but some of the things in it would’ve been a bit off-putting if their were men present 😉 When you move to Miami, you may get another guest at your table!
@Colleen-Oh, I’m relaxed…now! 🙂 The next few holidays are all in shul for the most part so I can just ease into the last part of the year

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