Last night, we attended a “third” seder hosted by the Vista Inspire Program at Vista del Mar for families who have children with special needs. Even though most of the child and teen participants of the Nes Gadol religious education program had attended seders on Friday and Saturday nights with friends and families, this was a third opportunity to sing a favorite song, eat some gluten-free Matzah and most importantly, hang out with their friends with special needs who understand them on a deep level. Like a bonus track on a CD (I’m dating myself here), this was a chance to linger a little longer.
Led by Rabbi Jackie Redner and Cantor Ken Jaffe, the service was well attended by 80 people, including parents, siblings, grandparents, volunteers and Vista del Mar board members, and covered all the “highlights” of the typical seder, with some special twists. Instead of just reading about the Exodus experience, the kids acted it out, with extra-dramatic flair provided by Ezra Fields-Meyer as the nasty Pharoah. Our Danny got to play the role of Nachson, who was the first brave soul to plunge into the Red Sea. Some kids ate a lot, some kids didn’t eat at all. The grape juice flowed as parents held ad hoc support sessions and the siblings got to feel a little less isolated in their unique situation. And at the end, there were a wide assortment of toys for Afikomen presents for all.
Thanks to Vista Del Mar, Elaine Hall, Rabbi Jackie and Cantor Ken for making our last seder of 2012 extra special.