Stuttgart seder – where no Jewish feminist has gone before?

Who knows what the JNF English version of the hagaddah says. JNF haggadahs are supplied in Hebrew-German and Hebrew-Russian. Most of the crowd is Russian-speaking, but there’s no help to those in need. The Tbilisi woman in maroon hair and amber beads next to us doesn’t even realize there are piles of Hebrew-Russian haggadahs. And forget the Hebrew. Our rabbi’s Hebrew is so heavily Yiddish accented that the Israelis can barely understand him. So much for telling the tale anew for each generation.

This is seder speed-reading, a mostly rabbinic one-man show. Something I last experienced with my grandfather’s whipping through the Maxwell House hagaddah. Not a participatory experience. Is the German translation meaningful for Christie and Oskar? Barely. It’s archaic German. Their first seder remains cloaked in mystery.

The Voca People are smart enough to depart after dinner. We stay the course. 

The rebetzin had told me the area has a Jewish community of some 3,000 members. All are welcome, so I feel a copy of Lilith might be welcome.

After the four-and-a-half-hour seder with roast chicken and shmura matzoh, I present the rebbetzin with a copy of the coveted Lilith swimsuit issue – the story of the young Jewish Viennese women swimmers who refused to compete in the Berlin 1936 Olympics. To give an elderly Orthodox woman in sheitl a magazine with 1930s cover photo of a young beauty in body-hugging swimsuit may be a mistake.

Epilogue: Post seder, checking the website of the Jewish Community of Württenberg, I find a link to

Yes, a liberal spinoff exists in the region. Women and men pray together. Women may wear tallises and yarmulkas. Services include German and Russian. They’re building on the liberal Jewish movement started in Germany in 1801, dedicated to the idea that people should understand what they’re saying and women should not be stuck behind a mechitza.

Next year in unorthodox Stuttgart?

photo credit: Dara Skolnick via photopin cc