Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Orange On The Seder Plate?

For those who celebrate Passover, consider the fairly modern custom of adding an orange to the traditional seder plate. This 'custom of inclusiveness' (generally evolved into a feminist statement during the high holiday) has an amusing origin (read below) but is gaining ground as a new recognition of Woman in Judaism.

Since the early 1980s, a custom has arisen (especially among more liberal and feminist Jews) to include an orange on the Seder plate. This custom is often explained as having arisen in response to a man who confronted a Jewish feminist who was giving a speech and opposed the right of women to become rabbis, supposedly declaring that women had as much place on the bimah as an orange had on the seder plate.

However, Susannah Heschel, a Jewish scholar who is widely credited with beginning this custom, has explained it as a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, including gay men and lesbians.

After hearing that some college students were placing crusts of bread on their seder plates as a protest against the exclusion of homosexuals from Judaism, Heschel substituted the fruit (originally a tangerine) on the plate instead.

Today, there are seder plates made with seven spots, an extra for the orange on the seder plate, such as Michael Aram's Pomegranate Seder Plate[5]

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