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פִּלְחֵי תָפּוּ״ז | Items for the Second Seder Plate: Orange segments, after the teaching of Susanna Heschel

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To be inserted near the end of the meal.

In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (suggesting that there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate).

Heschel felt that to put bread on the seder plate would be to accept that Jewish lesbians and gay men violate Judaism like ḥamets violates Passover. So, at her next seder, she chose an orange as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out—a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia of Judaism.

While lecturing, Heschel often mentioned her custom as one of many feminist rituals that have been developed in the last twenty years. She writes, “Somehow, though, the typical patriarchal maneuver occurred: my idea of an orange and my intention of affirming lesbians and gay men were transformed. Now the story circulates that a man said to me that a woman belongs on the bimah as an orange on the seder plate. A woman’s words are attributed to a man, and the affirmation of lesbians and gay men is erased. Isn’t that precisely what’s happened over the centuries to women’s ideas?”[1] from Ritualwell 

We began our story by saying “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” The term “all” has no exceptions. The Book of Isaiah (56:7-8) said this loud and clear over two thousand years ago.
וַהֲבִיאוֹתִ֞ים אֶל־הַ֣ר קׇדְשִׁ֗י וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים֙ בְּבֵ֣ית תְּפִלָּתִ֔ עוֹלֹתֵיהֶ֧ם וְזִבְחֵיהֶ֛ם לְרָצ֖וֹן עַֽל־מִזְבְּחִ֑י כִּ֣י בֵיתִ֔י בֵּית־תְּפִלָּ֥ה יִקָּרֵ֖א לְכׇל־הָעַמִּֽים׃ נְאֻם֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהֹוִ֔ה מְקַבֵּ֖ץ נִדְחֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל ע֛וֹד אֲקַבֵּ֥ץ עָלָ֖יו לְנִקְבָּצָֽיו׃
“And I will bring them to My Holy Mountain, and cause them to rejoice in My House of Prayer; their offerings and sacrifices I desire on My altar. For My house will be called a House of Prayer for all peoples. Thus says Adonai Elohim, gathering the remnants of Israel: “Yet more I will gather upon to the gathered.”

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Notes
1 from Ritualwell

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