Happy Passover! عيد مبارك! חג פסח שמח!

I’m back! And my American family is gone! I was sad to see them go but I do have school to get back to! And haven’t made too much progress on that capstone project… It was so great that they came though – I loved getting to show them Oman and it was exciting to play tour guide a little bit. Also having my two families meet each other was such a surreal experience! They got along great and we had so much fun together – although a lot of that fun was directed towards making fun of me…oh well!

On Monday night not only did we hold a Passover Seder in a Muslim country but the U.S. Ambassador to Oman hosted it in her official residence! It was definitely the most diverse Seder I have ever been to, and will probably ever go to. There were Muslims, Jews, atheists and at least four types of Christians. The attendees included my host family, various Embassy employees, NSLI-Y and YES students and AMIDEAST staff. For most of them it was their first Seder and it was lot of fun for me to see them experiencing for the first time something that is such a staple in my life. It was funny seeing my friends and Arabic teachers eating matzah ball soup but it was even better to see my twelve-year-old host sister recite the Four Questions in Arabic and my host father talk about the relationship between Islam and Judaism.

Having so many diverse people there from so many different backgrounds gave the Seder, and the whole meaning of freedom that accompanies it, a much deeper meaning. Oman is known throughout the Arab world for being especially tolerant of different religions and it is one of the only countries where Sunni, Shia and Ibadhi (a less common type of Islam found mostly in Oman and the Gulf) Muslims can all pray together in the same mosque. Religion is more regulated here but in my experience people are incredibly open to learning about other beliefs and traditions. I have especially loved comparing Islam and Judaism with my host family and realizing how many similarities there are.

The Seder was a great way to showcase this part of Oman and a very unifying experience for my host family, natural family and my friends. My host sister inevitably pressured my brother into trying brisket and at least one of my friends invited her to our Seder next year. Who knows where it will be!

Chag Sameach!!

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Allen Israel
    Apr 21, 2014 @ 19:08:18

    Miriam,
    I spoke with Brian this morning and he filled me in on their wonderful adventure with you in Oman, meeting everyone, and the amazing Seder, but your description, stories, and pictures really tell the fascinating account more clearly!!!
    Love,
    Poppa

    Reply

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