Thought for the day: the seder should be a symposium

Happy Passover 2011 / Pesach 5771! Chag Sameach!
Happy Passover 2011 / Pesach 5771! Chag Sameach!

You know how the haggadah says “Drink the first [second, third, and fourth] cup of wine”? Do you gulp it down or take a sip? Every seder I’ve been to, people take a sip and move on. Wait a minute. Let’s read between the lines. Let’s read “and talk” when it says “drink the Nth cup of wine.” The Greek word symposium literally means “drink together.” And the idea of “drink together” is “talk together.” So, instead of taking a sip, why not talk for as long as it takes everyone to comfortably finish a glass of wine? Talk about the meaning of Passover. Talk about Passovers past and Passovers future. How have you been helped up with a mighty arm and outstretched hand? Don’t just eat, pray, sip. Eat, pray, drink! And talk, and drink, and talk.

Just don’t drink and drive. 🙂

UPDATE: I figured this out on my own when I wrote it last year, but apparently I’m not alone. Just now I Googled ‘the seder should be a symposium’ and I found these related articles:

Happy Yuletide!


Yuletide Plates.
Originally uploaded by danielgreene.

I am a Jew who loves Christmas. To me, Chrismastime is a season, not a celebration of Christ. I do not believe that Jesus was the messiah. Personally, I do not believe that there will ever be one Messiah; instead, I believe that each baby born brings with him or her a great hope that he or she may help, in his or her own way, to heal the world (tikkun olam). The Nativity story, while I do not take it as fact, resonates with me deeply because of its miraculous romanticism and its underlying themes. Both Christmas and Chanukah convey a message of new hope, light in the darkness, and the triumph of good in the world in spite of hardship. I believe that the themes of Yuletide can be appreciated by Jews, Christians, and Pagans alike because–face it–both Christmas and Chanukah were religious overlays to Pagan holidays in the first place. So, maybe I should just say that I love the Yuletide! (Even though I don’t identify as a Pagan.)

All labels aside, whatever your religion, may you enjoy this time of year and may it bring you a renewed sense of hope!

P.S. These are the Woodland Santa and Pine Cone plates designed for Sakura by Debbie Mumm (© 1998).

P.P.S. I’m so glad that my new 28mm lens allows me to sit at table and take photos of my food with onboard flash! With my 50mm prime lens, I would have to get up from the table and stand over my food to take a photo of it, and with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens, I would have to add even more weight to an already heavy kit (since that lens is so heavy to begin with) by piling my 430EX hotshoe flash on top of it all. So, I now have a lightweight photography setup for going out to restaurants, taking photos at the table of food, friends, and family, etc. I’m excited about the possibilities!

Families Can Be Together Forever

This is dedicated to a colleague’s son who died suddenly last week at the age of 4. I attended his funeral at a Mormon church yesterday. The first order of service was singing a hymn called “Families Can Be Together Forever” whose lyrics resonated with me, a gay Jewish man:

“I have a family here on earth.
They are so good to me.
I want to share my life with them
Through all eternity.
Families can be together forever
Though Heavenly Father’s plan.
I always want to be with my own family
And the Lord has shown me how I can.”

(Words: Ruth Muir Gardner, Music: Vanja Y. Watkins)

It is interesting that I heard this song the day after watching the movie Juno and being struck by a line spoken by Ellen Page’s character: (more…)

Happy Chanukah – 7th Night

Happy Chanukah - 7th Night

Happy Chanukah – 7th Night
Originally uploaded by danielgreene.

I find it challenging to do anything "religiously" (i.e. "consistently," pun intended), and remembering to take a photo of the chanukiah each night of Chanukah this year was no exception. It’s enough just to remember to light the candles (or, in this case, turn the light bulbs) each night at sundown, much less remember to take a photo of it after dark. So, forgive me for only offering the first and second nights, and the seventh (and if I remember tonight) the eighth nights.

I decided to take this one with my better camera, and I went for a different angle this time because I liked the way the lights were reflected not once but twice in the dual-pane window.

On another note, (more…)

We’re not afraid to say it: Happy Chanukah!

Our home’s chanukiah (the proper term for a Chanukah menorah) on the first night of Chanukah. It’s displayed prominently in the front kitchen window, facing the street.

The title of this photo is a reference to some Christian people’s response to secularism, in particular, a BBQ restaurant sign in Nashville, TN I photographed that said, "We’re not afraid to say it: Merry Christmas!"

By the way, those are multicolored LED Christmas lights reflecting off the chrome of the chanukiah. We are an "interfaith" couple; besides, I grew up celebrating Christmas in a secular or, let’s be honest about it, pagan way. What’s all the fuss about anyway, folks? Don’t know know why Christmas, Chanukah, and Ramadan are all around the same time? They are religious overlays to a pagan foundation of celebrating the winter solstice! If you ask me, we’re all just trying to cheer ourselves up by lighting candles, stringing lights, and giving gifts at this, the darkest and coldest time of the year.