March 24, 2014

Will the 60 Minute Seder Increase Jewish Participation?

CHANDLER, AZ — One of the passages that is included in the Haggadah read at the Passover Seder is about the sages who sat all night reciting the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. What would they have said to a Seder that lasts no more than 60 minutes? Convinced that many modern Jewish families “shy away from participating in the annual Passover Seder due to its typical two-to-three hour ceremony,” Conservative, Reform and Constructionist leaders are cheering Cass and Nellie Foster's Sixty-Minute Seder: Preserving the Essence of the Passover Haggadah. 

“Bravo for creating the Sixty Minute Seder, no need to tell you how much it is needed!,” said  Rabbi Bonnie Cohen, Comunitat Jueva ATID de Catalunya, Spain (Reform). “Cass and Nellie Foster have done an amazing job of sifting the essence of the Passover ritual,” said ... Rabbi Judith HaLevy, Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue (Reconstructionist). We are indebted to Cass and Nellie Foster for taking the bold step of creating a revolutionary Haggadah…that will stimulate discussion, inspire interest and educate Jews with a range of backgrounds will find the Sixty-Minute Seder a perfect script for the Pesach drama.” Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, CEO/Executive Vice President Emeritus and Chief Israel Affairs Officer, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. 

“With more than 3,500 Haggadahs in print and no two having the same content, revisiting the Haggadah is not unheard of,” says Linda F. Radke, president of Five Star Publications, Inc., the parent company of Six Points Press, which published the Foster's book. Orthodox leaders criticized the “watered down” ancient Passover ritual that has survived thousands of years.  According to studies, nearly 69% of Jews participate in at least one Passover Seder, but it is believed to be in decline. At one time several decades ago, that number was near 90%.