The Jewish Network of the Highlands hosted an explanatory 'third seder'” in Inverness that was attended by 33 people of all ages, and provided an opportunity for local and not so local Jewish people to get together to mark the festival of Pesach.
Sets of vintage seder plates and bowls provided the focus for the annual retelling of the familiar story of the exodus from Egypt, as everyone crunched matzah, drank wine or grape juice, dipped the carpas vegetable into salt water, and listened to the children sing the “Mah Nishtanah”, the four questions that trigger the annual recital of the Haggadah.
Linda Martin from Lochaber, who is SCoJeC’s Voluntary Ambassador to the Highlands and Islands, organised and cooked for the event – in between responding to a request from some people unexpectedly stranded in Oban without any matzah for their seder, and preparing for her own Shabbat and Yom Tov – and brought everything to Inverness by means of a chilly early morning drive with the back seats of the car removed to acommodate not only food but also tableware. To keep the food fresh, everything was packed in insulated containers and surrounded by freezer packs, and the air-conditioning was on high to counteract the rising temperature outside. Others brought fresh fruit, and seder essentials such as chrain (horseraddish and other bitter herbs), charoset (a paste of grated apples, nuts, and wine), and hard-boiled eggs, and helped to set out the tables, serve, and clear away after the festive meal.
To round off the event, Kathryn Kusa, from Findhorn, gave a beautiful rendition of “Let my people go”, and Kathleen Hagler, a Holocaust survivor living in Inverness, led a stunning and heartfelt “Echad mi yode'ah?” (“Who knows one?”) which concluded a great celebration.
“It was a truly memorable occasion to see so many people with varied Jewish attachments, identity and interests gathered together for this traditional event in the Jewish calendar” said one participant, sentiments that were echoed by another who told us “It was a lovely event. I really enjoyed being there. The dinner was delicious, and the atmosphere friendly and welcoming.”