Friday, April 25, 2008


Returning leaves, cut grass, cherry blossoms, short sleeves, allergies, sun shine, baseball...welcome Spring!

This Sunday is the annual Springfest worship service.  I hope you’ll come to the beginning of the service to see what our children’s worship group, the InFESTers, have been working on.  After Time for All Ages, the children and teachers will adjourn to have our own Spring celebration in Religious Education class.  All the kids will meet together in the downstairs RE rooms for some special Spring celebration activities.  

Immediately after the service, the kids will host an art installation in the parish hall.  If your children would like to participate, they can prepare their art ahead of time and bring it to church on Sunday.  Choose from one (or more!) of these projects:

• a painting or drawing of their favorite springtime activity

• a diorama of an outdoor sports scene

• a photograph or drawing of a nature scene

To participate in the art installation, simply have your kids bring their art to class and we’ll prepare it for display before coffee hour.  

See you on Sunday!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Seder Snapshot

Many families and communities celebrated the first night of Passover last night with a Seder meal.  Tonight First Unitarian will hold our own Seder.  For a flash presentation to learn more about Passover, see has several really interesting videos.  Click here to learn more.  However you spend your holiday week, Gut Yontif!

Thanks for reading our week of Seder Snapshots!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Seder Snapshot

Many religious holidays ask adherents to make temporary alterations in their diets.  The practice of not eating “chametz,” (grain products not completely cooked within 18 minutes of flour meeting water) during Passover has symbolic significance that relates the practice to the story of the Exodus.  In addition, the spiritual practice of altering one’s diet can help us pay attention to the world around us in new ways.  Noticing where our food comes from, how it is made and what it is made from can help us feel connected to others and the Earth. 

Friday, April 18, 2008

Seder Snapshot

“Passover Seders have helped us to identify oppression for thousands of years.  During the civil rights movement in America, for example, Jews, African-Americans, Native-Americans and many other people gathered together at Passover Seders to renew their commitment to their fight for equality.  ...While we read the story of Exodus at the Seder, we should remember that there is still work to do to guarantee justice and equality for all people.  

Oppression does not always mean slavery or punishment.  Sometimes it means discrimination against someone because of a person’s race, or religion, or age, whether or not they own a home, or the people they choose to live with and to love.  ...Sometimes oppression means other people do not seem to care enough about problems that hurt people, like AIDS or child abuse."  We can say these problems are our “mitzrayim” or “narrow places”  —from Nancy Cronk’s “Oranges and Olives: A Modern, Interfaith Family Passover Haggadah”  

(find out more at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Seder Snapshot

“How easy it is for us to relive the days of our bondage as we sit in the warmth and comfort of our Seder.  How much harder to relieve the pain of those who live in the bitterness of slavery today.”  —Congregation Beth El, Sudbury, MA

Participants in the Seder ritual meal use the words "we" and "us" as we discuss escaping the bonds of slavery in Egypt.  Putting ourselves in this perspective is a reminder that our fates are interlocked, not only in history, but in the present as well.  Fleeing one's native land in pursuit of a better life is a story woven into the fabric of the world.  How many of us have ancestors who did just that?  Whether across the sea, across the border or through secret tunnels, our ancestors reached for a place of safety and hope.  They were not the first, nor were they the last.  The journey toward freedom, toward a better life, is part of our minds and souls and bodies.  The very food we eat comes to us as part of this journey, passed through the fingers of travelers in search of a better life.  

What can you do to help others who are on a journey toward freedom?

In what ways are you yourself on a journey?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Seder Snapshot

The Seder plate holds ritual foods that hold the meaning of the Passover story.  Each Seder plate includes a shank bone, a roasted egg, haroset (a mixture of apple, nuts and wine), horseradish, a second bitter herb (often romaine) and parsley (or other greens).  Each of these items has a ritual significance in the story of Passover.  Many modern Seder plates also have an orange and/or olives.  Click here to find out why!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Seder Snapshot

Thank you to everyone who sent in an RSVP for our congregational Seder.  Registration for this event is now closed.  Even if you won't be joining us for the Seder, I hope you'll continue to learn about Passover and celebrate in your own way next week.  In the meantime, our Seder Snapshots will continue through Sunday.

“In the Jewish calendar, days do not officially start in the morning, but at sunset (sunset to sunset).  If your calendar says Passover is on the 13th and 14th, it is celebrated on the evenings of the 12th and 13th, for example.” —from Nancy Cronk’s “Oranges and Olives: A Modern, Interfaith Family Passover Haggadah”

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seder Snapshot

“It is a tradition for families to clean the entire house thoroughly before Passover and to remove all unleavened bread.  This may be an origin for the American idea of “spring cleaning”.)  Many reform and unaffiliated Jews do not remove grain products, but do try to replace as much bread as possible with Matzah at meals.”  —from Nancy Cronk’s “Oranges and Olives: A Modern, Interfaith Family Passover Haggadah”

Today (Monday) is the last day to RSVP for our congregational Seder, Sunday, April 20, 5-7 pm.  Contact Becky Brooks if you are interested in attending.  

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Seder Snapshot

Like Unitarian Universalism, Judaism is a religion without a creed or mandated practice.  Some Jews keep Kosher, some do not.  Some Jews go to religious services, some do not.  Many, though far from all, have special dietary practices during the celebration of Passover.  These practices might include not eating leavened bread, beans, corn and other grain products, some wine or vinegar, or some combination of these, based on how they are made.  Some foods are considered Kosher for Passover if they have gone through a special process or exclude certain ingredients.  For example, “Kosher L’Pesach” Pepsi looks just like regular Pepsi, only made with sugar instead of corn syrup.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Seder Snapshot

“Pesach” (pronounced “pay-sock”) is the Hebrew word for the Jewish holiday called “Passover” in English.

Because Hebrew is written with a different alphabet that the English alphabet, all the words you see with English letters are transliterations of the Hebrew.  That’s why you often see Hebrew words written with a variety of different spellings.  Haroset and Charoses refer to the same thing, they are just different ways to transliterate the word for the yummy chopped apple, walnut and wine dish.  

Friday, April 11, 2008

Seder Snapshot

As we prepare for our congregational Seder, I'll be posting "Seder Snapshots" each day between now and Sunday, April 20.  These will be brief facts about the Jewish celebration of Passover.  Most of these will be collected from the haggadah we will be using at the service, "Oranges and Olives, a Modern, Interfaith Family Passover Haggadah," by Nancy Cronk.  You can download the haggadah by clicking on the link on the right sidebar. 

"The Seder is a big family meal (similar to Thanksgiving in size and importance) with a prescribed service which is read out of a book called a haggadah.  The Seder marks the beginning of Passover, an eight-day holiday commemorating the Exodus from slavery in Egypt.  It is not unusual for guests to the Seder to come from far away.  College students often return home to be with family.  It is customary in Judaism to invite others who many not have a place to go for Seder." —Nancy Cronk

To RSVP for the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore Seder, 5pm on Sunday, Apr. 20, contact me, Becky Brooks. The deadline for RSVPs is Monday, April 14.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mystery Buddy Breakfast a Smash for All Ages!

Our Mystery Buddy program this year was a smashing success, with a record forty-six kid and adult participants!  All forty-six buddies, plus their families joined in a celebratory meal on March 30.  After a month of exchanging clues, there were some surprises and some suspicions confirmed at our bountiful potluck breakfast.  Pairs ate together and worked together to decorate paper-people to represent themselves on the “Mystery Buddy” posters, now on display in the downstairs hallway of the RE building.

For more great pictures, be sure to check out the photo album at this link: Mystery Buddy Breakfast

Special thanks to our official photographer, Jessah Serafini, who graciously lent her superb expertise to capture the event on film!