We’ve asked Jewish educators and organizations all over North America to add a fifth question to the Seder – one that will inspire us to make Passover meaningful for today’s Jewish world. Find out more about our 5th Question project.
Passover, it turns out, is the most celebrated Jewish holiday of the year. More than Shabbat, more than Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Even ‘high holiday only’ Jews usually make it to a Seder. If Passover, then, is the most important Jewish holiday (by participation), and the Four Questions are the most important parts of the Seder, a fifth question must be taken quite seriously. After all, the Four Questions cut to the heart of the narrative, forcing us to think about our meal as more than just the sum of the foods and people assembled therein. Therefore, I propose a straightforward question, one that it seems is taken for granted by many, but altogether unclear for so many other in our community.
The question is: “Why be Jewish?”
Ok, I know it isn’t in the standard format of ‘why on this night do we do this or do we not do this’, but I think it is probably the most important question in the Jewish world that receives the least amount of attention. Particularly in a time in which so many young adults born to Jewish parents are not identifying with the Jewish community in ways previous generations did, when Antisemitism seems so foreign, and when Israel is so mired in conflict, identifying with and participating in the Jewish community isn’t a given.
I believe that asking this question at the Seder would be quite powerful. Particularly after spending so much of the Seder identifying with our ancestors of old and their struggles, asking and answering the question ‘why’ should we be Jewish today and build the Jewish community in the future would be a strong reaffirmation of our people-hood. It also might give us a chance to really listen to those we consider ‘unaffiliated’ or ‘disengaged’. We might just learn a thing or two and find deeper answers for ourselves as to why we choose, in an age of science, secularism, and sectarianism, to be Jewish.
Next Dor is a platform and program to empower young adults to build Jewish community that is relevant and vibrant. Based out of a renovated house, Next Dor provides the resources and opportunities to bring young adults together in an informal and non-institutional setting.