Stuttgart seder – where no Jewish feminist has gone before?
Prologue: Back in New York, the Stuttgart synagogue demands proof of our Judaism before admitting us to the seder given by the Jewish Religious Community of Württenberg (the part of Southwest Germany where Stuttgart is located).
They’re expecting an overflow and Jews get priority. Having to prove you’re Jewish in Germany? As one no-nonsense D.C. rabbi put it, “I’ve had to vouch for the Judaism of people making aliyah, but Germany?” I email a photo of our ketubah. All these years I’d been feeling guilty that I’d sold out and had two male witnesses rather than one female and one male sign our marriage contract. Now bowing to the Orthodox authorities has paid off.
Main event: Problems evaporate. All four of us are admitted to the Stuttgart Jewish community seder – my beloved and I, our raised-Catholic hostess, Christie, and 17-year-old son, Oskar. No security guards. No passport check. About 100 of the faithful are seated at long tables with the Orthodox rabbi at head table, rebbetzin at side. He’s in a kittel (white cloth robe), long white beard, black yarmulke over receding hairline. Christie, a former television newscaster, goes to shake his hand. He recoils. Welcome to someone else’s Judaism.
We get lucky. We end up with a bunch of what looks like Israeli hippies. Turns out they’re The Voca People. Oskar is impressed. We’re clueless. In performance, they’re a singing group of eight, dressed like something between all-white Smurfs and George Segal plaster-of-Paris sculptures with red lipstick. More than 12 million people have already clicked on their website. They’re all about how music needs no translation.
Back at the seder, forget Miriam’s Cup. I have no idea whether or not Miriam plays a role in the Israeli Jewish National Fund (JNF) edition of the parting of the Red Sea.