Seder songs are probably even more unusual in Fort William than cloudless, blue skies, and gorgeous sunshine – or for that matter, being asked to imitate a tree or ride on an imaginary chariot!
SCoJeC’s visit to the Highland’s second city started with an “education evening” at West Highland College where Zoe Jacobs, our Education and Community Development Worker, attracted a small but extremely interested – and interesting – audience. It really was an education, as everyone learned something that night! One of the participants was a Jewish man who hadn’t attended any Jewish gathering in nearly 40 years and didn’t know there were any other Jewish people living locally. He found the experience very emotional and at times almost overwhelming. The highlight of the evening was when the group was discussing the Seder, the telling of the Passover story, and he quoted the first line of the Mah Nishtanah – the Four Questions – and then looked simultaneously shocked and delighted that the words came out so naturally.
The following morning, Joe Goldblatt, the second volunteer to complete our Community Ambassador Training Course, visited Banavie Primary School with Zoe, where they ran separate sessions on the Passover story for lower and upper Primary pupils. These focused on the instruction in the Seder service itself to tell the story as if we ourselves were experiencing it – thus offering us the chance to explore the characters’ emotions, and how it must have felt at each point in the story.
So the sessions become an interactive drama event, telling the story of Passover with props, sound effects, masks, and an imaginary burning bush. The older group also took part in a matching game, identifying which part of the story matched which item on the seder plate. The sessions were repeated in the afternoon at Spean Bridge Primary School, to an equally delighted and captivated audience who particularly enjoyed Joe's use of song to provide an overview of the story – with actions and sound effects to match!
That evening Linda Martin, SCoJeC’s Volunteer Ambassador for the Highlands and Islands, joined Zoe to run a Seder Songs session at the at Lochaber Yacht Club, offering local Jewish people a reminder of the most traditional Seder songs in preparation for Pesach the following week, and also an opportunity to learn some new songs suitable for all the family. This was a lovely event with a song, tune, or lyric to suit every person and every mood.