A story for your Passover Seder

Last summer Nivonim’s Take Home project focused on Passover.  We asked Nivonimers to share with us stories from their Passover Seders, which they thought others might want to incorporate into their Seder.  This one comes to us from Talia Wolfson:

My Grandma Tema, z”l was born in a shtetl outside of Warsaw in 1921.  She came to the United States when she was five, and being a citizen of the United States was a huge source of pride to her.  She thought it is the greatest country in the world.  This is a story that my mother heard from her mother many times.  Grandma Tema had a cousin named Ruchel who was also born in Poland.  Ruchel came the United States early in the 20th century and her home was where all of the new immigrants in the family came when they arrived in America.  From the stories we heard, Ruchel lived in total poverty, in a walk-up tenement with a shared bathroom, but there was always room for the newcomers.  Finally, it came time for Ruchel to become a citizen and she went to take her naturalization test.  One of the questions they asked her was, “Who freed the slaves?”  Ruchel answered, “Moses.”  Ruchel failed the test and actually never became a citizen.

So why is this a Passover story?  I think it’s because Ruchel saw freedom through the lens of her own experience and culture.  She heard “slaves” and that meant the Israelites in Egypt.  She didn’t relate to the Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that was intended on the citizenship test because that wasn’t her freedom and Lincoln wasn’t her deliverer.  The lesson, I think, is that while the Passover story is about the deliverance of our people, it’s a universal story and it can speak to everyone’s experience with hardship and deliverance.

If you have a great story or text from your Passover Seder, which you would like to share, please email Ben Greene at beng@campramahne.org.

Categories: Nivonim, Take Ramah Home