A Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast which remembers the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt and its representation of how they have overcome various events as people. Seder means 'order' in Hebrew.
The Le'Or Education Fund is an official 501(c)3 based in Portland Oregon. In 2015 the non-profit group began the Le'Or Cannabis Passover Seder and has 'sparked up' conversations in the Jewish community about civil rights, issues surrounding marijuana legalization, drug policy reform and mass incarceration.
At this year's cannabis Passover Seder in Portland, guests were treated to a 3-course dinner.
It consisted of an asparagus salad, salmon, rice and vegetables and an ice cream brownie sundae for dessert... and no these foods were not infused with cannabis, in case you were wondering.
The Seder began with 'blessing the first cup of wine' which is repeated four times (blessing and drinking four cups of wine) and guests were free to bless and consume four servings of cannabis or more, or could be substituted for the wine or to compliment it.
Plates of cannabis and vaporizers were provided for guests to enjoy throughout the Seder.
Ritual hand washing took place twice throughout the ceremony, bowls filled with water were brought out to guests who would dip their hands in the water to follow a ritual that signifies 'a life sustained and cleansed.' A select number of attendees were chosen to read out loud the story and rituals behind the customs, followed by live traditional music which guests sang along and hummed to.
Each table displayed a Sedar plate adorned with the "Three Essentials"- The Pesach, (shank bone) which represents the sacrificial lamb and the spiritual meaning of sacrifice, Matzah, the unleavened bread and Maror, a bitter herb to remember the bitterness of slavery and a hard boiled egg which represents life's beginnings. In addition to the customary items, a new item was introduced, a single cannabis leaf called the 'aleh yarok.'
One attendee mentioned that 'All Seders are different and everyone seems to be to be making their own traditions." "Integrating cannabis with Seder rituals makes the event a relaxed and comfortable event," he said.
Roy Kaufman, the co-founder of the Le'Or Eduction Fund stated that the organization began a cannabis passover seder because it would be an amazing opportunity for people to begin talking about cannabis like they never have.
“Our goal is to erode the stigma, so that the Jewish community at large can see that supporting marijuana legalization is not just the right thing to do, it’s the Jewish thing to do,” Kaufman said, who founded Le’Or with his wife, Claire.
"Many of the first conversations of marijuana revolve around medicinal and recreational use but the conversation of spiritual use is still taboo. To talk about cannabis in other spiritual tools is a different level and we are excited to get there," Kauffman explained.
Le'Or hopes to bring cannabis Seders to a 'national level' and have seders in multiple cities at the same time.
As for those who have never experienced a Seder let alone a cannabis Seder, Kauffman expressed how flattered and honored he felt that new attendees would trust Le'Or to take them through their first Seder experience.
"It is a big compliment to us that they would trust us to lead them ( new attendees) through this ritual that they have never experienced before," Kauffman said.