A Very Venice Passover

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High Holiday Ritual Lab. Photo by Kelly Fogel.

Open Temple Exodus Seder Crawl

by Rabbi Lori Shapiro

Outside of the Bible, there is no greater artifact of Jewish civilization than the Passover Haggadah, the storybook that leads us through the Seder. Thousands exist throughout history – from illuminated Jewish manuscripts from the medieval era to the famed Santa Cruz Haggadah with the sacrificial tofu. The Haggadah reminds us that while there is a set form (seder, the ritual meal, literally means “order”), there is no one way to do Passover, and invites us to find our own unique Jewish voice and creative expression.

Yom Kippur at Open Temple in Venice. Photo by Kelly Fogel.

This year, Open Temple’s Seder Crawl does just that. In addition to wine stations (uh- four cups!) participants will engage in a three-hour tour through Venice as well as Judaism’s famed history.  As Passover is a holiday that spotlights freedom from oppression and the Israelites fleeing their Egyptian taskmasters, Open Temple participants will learn of Venice’s own history of oppression – both past and present. Special guests include members of the Oakwood community, artist Robin Murez, performance artists, and musicians. Our seder leads us through landmarks of Venice art and history as we learn about concepts of freedom, justice, and spiritual awakening.  Most importantly, we will identify our own stories “from oppression to freedom” as the instruction of the Haggadah commands “in each generation, it is as if YOU came out of Egypt.”

Throughout our Quest, participants will face our own local four Questions: around homelessness, gentrification, preserving artists’ presence in Venice and how to apply our own soul journeys to our local justice needs. A seder is an embodied experience where we, literally, eat the symbols that we discuss. The Open Temple seder plate will be filled with local symbols to feast upon, with some foods sourced from surprising locations.

The Open Temple Exodus Seder Crawl puts The Quest back into The Four Questions. Filled with fun, spiritually nourishing, as well as corporeally nourishing moments (dinner will be served at an enchanting al fresco location) the seder innovates upon what is, perhaps, Judaism’s greatest innovation with a Venice wine-spritzer twist.  

The Seder Crawl begins at Open Temple House (1422 Electric Ave., Venice) at 4 p.m. on March 31 and runs through the sunset. Tickets available on Eventbrite search Open Temple Venice Beach or go to YoVenice.com

Rabbi Lori brings the Torah to Abbot Kinney. Photo by Cheri Wallin.