BY RON FEINBERG / WEB EDITOR //
The Alliance Theatre’s Interfaith Seder last week was a bit of life imitating art. The theater’s current production, “The Whipping Man,” takes place during Passover just days after the Civil War ended and a Seder is the focus of the play’s second act.
So it only made sense to hold a real Seder on the fourth night of Pesach, turn it into an interfaith experience exploring the meaning of freedom and invite members of the cast to attend. At least that’s the story offered by Brad Levenberg, one of the leaders of the Seder and a rabbi at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs.
“It seemed natural that we have a Seder, complementing a show that focuses on Passover,” Levenberg said. “And I really love that several members of the cast were able to attend.”
The actors joined with 70 or so guests, a multi-cultural and multi-racial blend of Jews and Christians, breaking Matzah together and sharing the highlights of a traditional Passover Seder. Levenberg and Max Leventhal, the Alliance Theatre’s general manager, took charge of the meal.
Guests were spread around a half-dozen tables in the Center Space at the Woodruff Arts Center, only minutes away from the Hertz Auditorium where “The Whipping Man” is being staged. Like most traditional Seders, friends, family and strangers spent a few moments chatting and getting to know one another, then helped tell the Passover Story detailed in a special Haggadah prepared for the evening.
Along with the usual high ritual and symbols – yet one more glass of wine and a tad more Charoset, please – there were traditional prayers, songs and a few special readings detailing Passover observance during the Civil War. The Seder’s Four Questions were sweetly sung by Hannah Zeldin who, it’s worth noting, will be appearing in the Alliance’s production of “Zorro” next month.
The “art” and “life” of the evening – “The Whipping Man” and the Interfaith Seder – managed to pull together for a moment, a simple haimish vibe at the heart of both. The good news is that while The Whipping Man ends up dark and brooding with many unanswered questions, the night’s Interfaith Seder was a celebration filled with laughter and light.
“It was a perfect way to focus on the meaning of Passover,” said Lauren Levetan, who attended both the Interfaith Seder and the play. “It was a meaningful Seder and an interesting bit of theater; good food, good company and great entertainment.”