Passover — the holiday during which seemingly every Jewish family or group of friends puts its own spin on the celebration of freedom — is here. But as much as seders deviate from each other, there are some variables that remain constant. For instance, countless Jewish women have doubtless made the same joke as they sit down at the Passover table: “After days of being enslaved in the kitchen, I’ve made my way to the Promised Land of sitting and eating.” Often, this accompanies handing over the reins to someone else (her father? husband? brother?) who actually leads the seder, while she continues to fret over the tzimmes, brisket and matzo ball soup.
I bring up this generalized anecdote not to further a gender stereotype, or to criticize people who hew to those roles, but to ask readers for tales of seders that break classic patterns.
I’ve heard of plenty of seders that are potluck or jointly led, seders that use gender-neutral language and add feminist commentary and ritual over the course of the seder.. Heck, I just read about a vegan seder followed up by pot-smoking in Salon. But on the flip side, I know very few where the traditional roles are entirely, 100% reversed: the cooking and cleaning is supervised by men and the leading done by women. In the comments section, I’d love to hear about the non-traditional gender arrangements that you have witnessed at seders past and present.
It’s my belief that Jews of my generation (under 30), already beginning to lead our own seders, will mix things up gender-wise as young women pick up the religious and tradition-oriented slack and more and more men consider themselves gourmands and cooks without any sort of associated shame.
Toward a More Equitable Passover