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 Shabbat Seder Guide?

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Mychal

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PostSubject: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:54 pm

First topic message reminder :

I am hosting a Shabbat seder at our medieval re-enactment in March. It's open to people who are Jewish in real life, people who aren't but who portray medieval Jews, and people who are neither but curious.

I need to find some sort of simple guide that I can print out and take with me on to how to host a seder. A tools list would be helpful (since I have to pack all of this stuff to take with me), but all I really need is the order of the seder and the blessings to say. I'm not worried about keeping it strictly medieval, because it's being presented as a class for people to learn about the Shabbat seder (and pretty much anything else they want to know about Jews, modern or medieval), so I'm open to doing other things during the seder which are optional/not required.

Does anyone have a link to a guide online--maybe your synagogue has a link? Hebrew Christians have plenty of guides, but I'm not going there.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:40 pm

Mychal wrote:
And I know that the Orthodox POV is that people who are not Jews should not perform ritual mitzvot, but I'll confess that I've never ascribed to that idea. For one thing, how do you know for sure you want to be a Jew if you haven't been put through your paces first? If you're not warming to the idea of ritual practice when it's not required, then it's better to not become a Jew where it IS required.

Debbie is not saying non-Jews should not perform rituals (and neither do the Orthodox) but that a non-Jew cannot do it for someone else who is Jewish. Let's say a Jewish family invites another Jew over for dinner who does not know the blessings. The host can say the blessings while the visitor just says "amen" and that will suffice. However, if the host is not Jewish then he cannot say the blessing for the visitor. But you've stated it's not super important if you shabbat dinner is "valid" so I think that is a moot point.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:52 pm

When I read what you wrote "medieval re-enactment", a Renaissance fair came to my mind or maybe a play. So you are doing an actual Shabbat as a learning experience? It seems like it will definitely be a learning experience for you and them. Since it is a public thing I would ask a Jewish friend to guide it, as a Noahide our Rabbies have told us from day one not to do public things representing Jews because of the sanctity of Hashems name. We used to have mezuzahs but did not put them up on our new place out of respect. We did not agree at first then listen to the logic behind it. We had parties, barbeques with pork items and drinking and all kinds of hooligan fun things at our previous home. Little did we know our neighbor was Jewish until he whispered to my husband if we were. Now that I know better (and refrain from any pork products, gelatin etc. dairy w/meats) we do not put up mezuzahs so that we are not mistaken as messianic or Jewish people who are not observant. I understand that you have a Jewish soul, and you will do what you think is best regardless of what people tell you. Believe me I understand, we are told not to study beyond the 7 laws of Noah but because we choose to study anyways, we can say we have read and studied 6 Talmud tractates as minimum and can have a discussion to defend our right to study. So my advice is labor in Torah so that you can also be confident in performing such a sacred holiday as Shabbat. Reality is that those in that attend your function will not see it for its true significance but merely a ritual act of a "Day of Rest." Yes they may show respect, but it will not be significant because it takes more than an hour to comprehend the impact on the universe to perform such a empowering act of celebrating Shabbos. I pray Hashem gives you the passion and insight and verbal skills to put it into a context that will shake their very soul and start a spark within them.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:36 pm

Mychal:
I would encourage you to put a call out to Jewish participants (and others who are curious) who would be interested in a Friday night kiddush. Then, try to line up Jewish members to lead various parts. I know you might like to do the leading yourself, but it really isn't proper for a non-Jew to lead on behalf of Jews---I'm pretty sure that even most Reform rabbis would agree (that's why at most Reform shuls, there are still some rules about what non-Jews can do---most will not allow a non-Jew to individually take an Aliyah, for example). And you'll have plenty of chances to lead after you convert. Dena is correct that I am not saying that non-Jews can't perform Jewish rituals---I did that myself for over 20 years---and was way more "Jewishly observant" than any of my Reform and many of my Conservative Jewish friends. I'm not concerned about "validity", but about "propriety"---more like the fact that at my minyan a man taking an aliyah without wearing a tallit while up at the bima would be considered improper. (It is optional for women to wear a tallit while at the bima.)

But organizing rather than leading is permissible. In fact, you could say that I was exactly in that position when, before I converted, I ended up being the coordinator for a full Shabbat morning service of a Shabbaton! It came about because the board member who organized the coordinating duty rotation found out to his consternation that I was not Jewish. This was in part related to my finding out that after a decade of active participation in our beloved lay-led minyan and my family paying full family dues that because I was not Jewish, I could not only not officially be a "member", but there was no category for me to officially affiliate at all. (Even if unofficially and socially I was warmly welcomed.) I honestly thought he knew that I wasn't Jewish since I never tried to hide it, but since I was so active and I knew the services quite well, I guess I could see how he might not have known. Although the board member said he had strong views on requirements of Jewish status for membership, he tried to be gracious by telling me that he didn't feel that my not being Jewish disqualified me from coordinating.

I think he gave me the Shabbaton service because he had actually been planning to organize that Shabbat himself so he could make the switch easily. I ended up lining up seven Torah readers and a Haftarah reader, people to lead P'sukei D'Zimra, Shacharit, and Musaf, and two Gabbaim. Then I was responsible for handing out honors for 7 Aliyot, lifting and wrapping the Torah, etc. When I asked the guest speaker if he was a Cohen or Levi, I remember thinking how shocked he would probably be if he knew that the person asking him was ineligible to take any aliyah at all. It turned out to be an amusingly (in retrospect) challenging day to coordinate with all sorts of complications like no Cohen in the house and the Musaf leader with a bad back who needed someone else to carry the Torah for him.....

Your plans for a Friday night kiddush are more equivalent to an event at the Hillel if it is planned primarily for the benefit of Jews while allowing non-Jews to attend. If there are indeed Jews at your event (and it sounds like there probably are) then it is certainly a mitzvah for you to organize a Friday night kiddush for and with them. So go for it!

But if you find that there are no Jews, don't forget that it is fine to do your own Shabbat rituals for yourself without making it a display for others. I have done that before when on scout troop camping trips for example. It just makes me feel uncomfortable to think about Jewish ritual done in the absence of Jews. It reminds me of the weird situation of towns in Eastern Europe which no longer have Jews (after killing them off!) but which have Klezmer revival festivals.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:54 pm

If my friends lived closer I'd invite them over on Friday nights just to have a little comapny. I don't think that I'd go through the whole ritual though because it would make me feel like "entertainent". I could light candles and say blessings before they arrived.
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esf

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:06 pm

Dena wrote:
If my friends lived closer I'd invite them over on Friday nights just to have a little comapny. I don't think that I'd go through the whole ritual though because it would make me feel like "entertainent". I could light candles and say blessings before they arrived.

Exactly. Mychal, I think you should talk to your Rabbi about this - something about the 'exhibition' nature of it makes me feel uncomfortable.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Shabbat Seder Guide?   Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:14 pm

I had my Shabbat oneg/seder Friday night and it went over really well. I had 4 other adults and a child who came (plus several other people told me they had wanted to come but couldn't for one reason or another; I might have more people next year). One was JBB, one JBC, one Christian, and one didn't identify.

I made the blessings (I offered to let the others make the blessings if they wanted, but they declined) and then we sat around and noshed and talked about Jewish things medieval and modern for an hour and a half. Everyone enjoyed it and wants to make it a yearly tradition (a couple of the ladies have offered to help in the future to make sure it continues).

I also made a short handout that answers some basic questions about Shabbas observance, and that was popular too; people said they were going to give them to family members who were Jew-curious.
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