Posted by Sandy Slavet

If Rosh Hashanah brings Jews to synagogue, Passover brings Jews to the table. At the Seder, friends and families gather for an evening of shared stories, food, and song. Passover is the holiday when we are actually commanded to sit and eat together!

And Passover is a time to celebrate freedom and hope: it is a time we tell our story of oppression and redemption. A time in our collective history that we experience the degradation of slavery and celebrate our transformation into a people who had to overcome paralyzing fear to become willing travelers on the road to sovereignty.

But for some, Passover can be far more personal: their story is not only about the struggles of the ancient Israelites but it is a personal story of challenges, illness, and struggle.

Mitzrayim is not just a place on an ancient map
Where a narrow strait blocks the way between two seas.
Mitzrayim is a place in us
Where a narrow strait blocks the sea which is our soul
From reaching the sea which is its Source.

Even more importantly it is a story of healing and recovery. JF&CS Chaverim Shel Shalom (CSS) is a social program for Jewish adults with psychiatric conditions. Perhaps the hallmark of the CSS year is the annual Passover Seder. And the hallmark of the Seder is the Haggadah. You might ask "Why is this Haggadah different from all others?" This Haggadah was written by participants of CSS as a Haggadah of healing and wholeness. The creators of this Haggadah wanted the emphasis to be on their story from illness and struggle to one of wellness and recovery, opening the narrow strait to the sea. Our Haggadah tells the story not only of the journey from slavery to freedom but of the journey from isolation to strength through support, compassion, and community.

The Seder is open to all CSS participants and their family and friends and includes a full kosher for Passover meal at no cost to our guests. CSS is grateful to Combined Jewish Philanthropies for their continuing support of CSS and for making this Seder possible.

CSS meets four times a month to learn, share, and celebrate Jewish life together. For more information, please contact Sandy Slavet at 781-693-5640.

Sandy Slavet is the Director of Jewish Life Services for People with Disabilities. Sandy works with CHAI and CHAI Works participants providing social, educational, and Jewish programs including Shabbat and Jewish holiday celebrations as well as participation in community activities at local synagogues and other community locations. She also leads several social programs for adults with disabilities including Chaverim Shel Shalom, Chaverim Chaim (Friends for Life), and Jewish Signers of Massachsetts. Before coming to JF&CS in 2001, Sandy was an ASL Interpreter in private practice. Sandy is active in many community organizations and is an active member of her synagogue. Most importantly, she and her husband, Joe, have four wonderful daughters; her youngest daughter, Marie, is a beautiful 26-year-old who happens to have Down syndrome.