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

The Ten Plagues that befall Adopters

1. Dam/Blood Waiting for the results of blood and other tests. Waiting for a biological child. Then waiting for an adoptable child.


2. Ts'fardei-a/Frogs Dealing with the sad, angry behavior of a child who has been hopped from foster home to foster home.


3. Kinim/Lice Jealousy like irritating lice. Jealousy of others' fertility. Jealousy of any attention paid to a birthmother.


4. Arov/Untamed Beasts Invasion by untamed experts. Bored, busy or boorish, these beasts may be be invasive or evasive but omnipotent, unfortunately.


5. Dever/Disease Infertility that can feel like a disease on one's femininity or masculinity.


6. Sh'chin/Boils Fear that bursts forth like boils. Fear of never becoming a parent. Then fear of losing their child to a birth mother after a reunion.


7. Barad/Hail Something as unlikely but still possible as hail falling in Egypt; the adoption agency myth that "love is enough," and that their children will never have a natural curiosity about their own origin.


8. Arbeh/Locusts Fees that eat up green like locusts.


9. Choshech/Darkness The darkness of secrecy and deceit that permeated the closed adoption process and touched all triad members.


10. Makat B'chorot/Death of the firstborn Death of the hope for a biological child.


          It was the final plague, the Death of the Firstborn, that made Moses' adoptive family understand. For Batyah, the adoptive mother, that firstborn was the biological child that infertility had kept from her. Until she mourned her unconceived, miscarried, aborted or stillborn child, Batyah could not empathize with Moses' longing for biological ancestors, a longing that was painfully similar to her own former longing for biological descendents. Both Batyah and Moses, Adopter and Adoptee, shared a wish for a biological link from generation to generation.

          Batyah not only came to understand her son Moses, she chose, like some other Egyptians, to join the "mixed multitude" that the Bible says follow Moses out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. Batyah did this from a mother's love, but also, perhaps, because she sensed that she would see her ethical will realized through Moses.        

          And that's exactly what happened: Moses was following the example that his mother set by rescuing him from the bulrushes when he made it obligatory that the Hebrews remember the widow, the orphan, and the stranger.

          Moses was remembering that he was tied to Batyah not by nature but by nurture, when he taught a new way for the Hebrews to see community and family. Whereas Abraham had introduced physical circumcision to bind them one to the other, Moses now taught them spiritual "circumcision of the heart" to bind them together by love. {Deuteronomy 10:16 and 30:16}

          The rabbis were so grateful for Batyah's kind examle and moral insights that they say she lived to enter the Promised Land and become one of the righteous people allowed to return to the Garden of Eden.




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Michele Kriegman TEL 973.292.9578