Last night was the annual University Synagogue Choir Seder, an event we have held for the past three or four years. The choir is a tight-knit group that parties together and shares major life events. In other words, it is a haverah, a group of like-minded people who meet on a regular basis around our membership in the synagogue. We do events related to holidays, but also to personal triumphs or just plain fun, going to dinner, having parties, etc.
We are lucky to have a wonderful organizer, Wilma Nishball, who generously gives her time to set things like this up. She is so kind, visiting people in the hospital, organizing caravans to cheer people up when they are ill, and setting up weekly dinners before practice. She sets up the caterer for this event as well, and even saves the plasticware for use in the future.
A seder can be a really long event. When I was a child, my uncle, who was modern Orthodox and lived next door to the shul in Philadelphia, would hold marathon seders all in Hebrew (which I didn't understand). They lasted till midnight. I would invariably be asleep under the table, especially after the 4 thimblesful of wine I had to drink as part of the ritual. Even now the sweet Manishevitz (sp?) stuff goes straight to my head.
But I have been to and held myself many kinds of seders, from Jewish Palestinian gatherings to anti-modern slavery ones, to feminist ones, and even helped the Catholic Worker organize a seder. They didn't quite get the concept, but they were enthusiastic, at least.
Passover is my favorite holiday, particularly when it is open and accessible and doesn't last all night, like the choir seders, which are unrivaled for speed and good fellowship.
Like all gatherings, this one is a good time to catch up with people you only see in passing the rest of the year. Wilma had put name tags at the table, so we were placed next to and opposite people we hadn't necessarily sat down with in a while, and that led to some interesting discussions about 12 string guitars and how they are different from regular ones, urban planning of the local community, harmonica playing, poetry, and French cookery. A various sort of discussion, in other words.
Everyone had a super time, and then we all packed in for our group photo and dispersed. I even sold a book! Hoorah!