Over the next week, we’ll be sharing Passover stories from our JDC Jewish Service Corps Fellows serving around the world. Today, Esther Burson – who is serving this year in Estonia – updates us on her seder in Tallinn, Estonia. You can read more from Esther on her blog, ESTonia.
A week before Passover, I asked the Director of Youth Programming at the Tallinn JCC for approval to host a seder for the teen leaders I work with (the madrichim for the Jewish camps and youth groups). The plan: I would introduce the teens, who come from non religious households, to a traditional seder. I organized the seder, and the head madrich helped me plan a budget and invite all the madrichim.
Three of the JSC fellows from Jerusalem and two from Argentina decided to visit me in Tallinn after our JDC Jewish Service Corps Mid-Year Seminar in Berlin, and to join me for Pesach. The six JSC fellows (including myself) went grocery shopping, prepared the meal, and set up for the seder. The director of youth programs from the JCC dropped by before the seder to check in.
Here’s a video of us getting dinner ready:
We sat on couches, chairs, pillows, blankets, and sleeping bags around a table with a seder plate and snacks. We took advantage of our souvenirs from the Mid-Year Seminar by using the JDC Haggadah for our service. The seder was indicative of the traditions from my home and the other JSC fellows’ homes, but not of the Estonian teens’ homes. None of them celebrate Pesach at home, and if I hadn’t hosted a seder, they might not have known it was Pesach. In fact, two of them couldn’t come because they had work, and one didn’t come because he was studying for an exam the next day.
The menu (recipes available upon request!):
–veggie platters with cucumber sour cream dip
–beet and feta salad
–warm carrot ginger salad
–matzah ball soup
–chocolate caramel matzah bark for dessert
It meant a lot to me that three JSC fellows came all the way from Israel for the seder. They had the chance to celebrate Pesach in Jerusalem, and they gave that up in order to join me in a tiny diaspora community at the northern edge of the world. We all agreed that we had the seder we wanted, and personally, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It was amazing to see them talking to the teens I work with and connecting over a shared Jewish identity, despite very different backgrounds.
After the seder, I went with two of the fellows from Jerusalem to a Chabad seder at the Jewish School. We arrived at 10:30pm, right in time for dinner. It was great to see a different segment of the Tallinn Jewish population.