Introduction to the First Adoption Seder (Revised)
....I have retold the story of Moses in the literary form of the haggadah. A haggadah is the traditional booklet for the celebration of Passover that recounts Moses' leading the Exodus out of Egypt. Also contained in a haggadah are psalms, prayers, songs and rituals. They all act like synapses that make the main story that much more deeply felt....
Glossary and Objects
Hadlakat ha-Nerot/Lighting the festival candles
Kos Kiddush/
First cup of wine
Blessing for something done a first time
Ritual washing of hands
Karpas/Spring Greens
The four questions ~ an adopted variation
The four kinds of children ~ an adopted variation
Maggid/The story of the Exodus from Egypt
The Ten Plagues
Dayenu (a song of gratitude)
Hallel/Psalms of praise
Kos G'ula/The second cup of wine
Shulchan orech/
The shared supper
Rachatzah/Ritual washing of hands
Motzi Matzah/
Breaking and blessing the matzah
Maror and Charoset/
The bitter and the sweet
A traditional dish
Rabbi Gamaliel's proclamation ~ and an adoptee's variation
Tsafun/Searching, finding, ransoming and sharing the afikomen
Bareich/Grace after meals
Kos B'racha/
The third cup of wine
Kos Eliayahu/The cup of Elijah, and his story
Kos Hartsa-a/
The fourth cup of wine
Nirtzah/Acceptance with silence/A pause for meditation
Eliayahu Hanavi/
Elijah the Prophet (A song sung at farewells)
A different kind of hero on a different kind of quest To celebrate the process of Search and Reunion by an adult adoptee (or immigrant or convert or spiritual seeker), I blended the biblical story of Moses with commentaries on it from the Talmud and my own insights as an adoptee. At first recollection, the story of Moses may sound like an adoptive parent's worst nightmare, but....

The Story of Moses: An Adoption Haggadah
by Michele Kriegman, Copyright 1996


Rabbi Gamaliel, president of the Sanhedrin in the first century of the Common Era, issued the following proclamation:

          Whoever neglects at their Seder to mention the pesach (sacrificial offering), the matzah (unleavened bread), and the maror (bitter herbs) has not fulfilled religious duty.

          The sacrificial offering represents the transforming power of trust.

          When Yocheved floated her beloved baby to Batyah.

          When the Hebrews saw nine plagues fail to move Pharaoh but still listened to Moses and marked their lintels with lambs blood for yet another plague.

          When the Hebrews brought their finest lambs to support the Temple priesthood of Aaron.

          These are manifestations of the hope and trust that make human institutions possible. Had we not had this hope and trust we could not have reached out to even God's outstretched arm. Zeroah means arm.

          The matzah symbolizes expediency. When we were slaves fleeing Egypt we did not have time to let our daily bread rise but instead baked it flat as matzah. Matzah, like the institution of adoption, may not be perfect but is often the best choice under the circumstances.

           The maror symbolizes the bitterness of laws that treat humans like possessions and allow one person to own another. at its most debased this is slavery. At its most complex emotionally this is adoption.

 Maror is the only bitter herb that we are commanded to eat and yet many of us include a sixth compartment on our Seder plate for chazeret as well. Similarly, many adoptees choose to feel a bitter guilt toward their parents because of the Adoptee's natural curiosity and fertility. This is something that should not be required or expected.

          There are three types of leave-taking that correspond with the three rites of Passover about which Rabbi Gamaliel speaks.

          The first type of leave-taking shows transforming trust, when Batyah not only supports Moses' reunion with his birth kin, but who, according to tradition, joins the Hebrews to cross the Red Sea and sing with the women on the other shore.

          The second type of leave-taking is expedient. The Hebrews leave Egypt under cover of darkness to begin their Search.

          The third type of leavetaking is bitter. This is the second time Moses will flee Egypt, but this time Pharaoh will try to hinder him. God causes the best and the worst to happen; the Red Sea parts, making a way for us to escape, but inundates in its wake the Egyptians who defend an old institution (be it slavery or sealed-record adoption).





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Michele Kriegman TEL 973.292.9578