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The Pesach Seder: A Transition to Freedom

The Haggadah is most commonly known for conveying the story of how, as a nation, the Jewish people transitioned from slaves to free people. The process and Seder night, has become a model for those transitioning through therapeutic programs.

Firstly, during the Seder, it is customary to recline, like a king. However, it is interesting to point out that even while reciting sections that discuss slavery, we continue to lean. If we show we are free through physical actions, shouldn't we sit hunched over, like slaves who had been whipped on their backs the entire day during those paragraphs? The answer, we act as how we are in the present. Since we are free now, even though we share stories of sad, trying times, we recline like free men and women.

While at a treatment facility, the focus is on the now, not behaviors that were common a year or two ago. Therapy sessions are tailored towards guiding the student through challenges they frequently experience and build upon skills that will help them one day reintegrate into their families and communities.

Secondly, it's important to recognize how the Haggadah emphasizes a story larger than just transitioning from slavery to freedom. By the end, we see how the Exodus story led to the establishment of the Jewish people, with the culmination of Mount Sinai.

During a student's time at a treatment center, the services don't only focus on living independently but rather on the greater picture; living within a healthy family and community structure. It's integral that a treatment facility mirror a typical family living style in order for each student to receive practical and hands-on practice. At Meromim, students can take this one step further and learn how they play an integral role in the Jewish people.

Thirdly, the seder's structure is guided questions and answers. We remove the Seder plate at different times to get the children at the table to ask questions. The infamous 4 questions (Mah Nishtanah), play an integral role in the Maggid section of the Haggadah. The 4 sons teach us that the one running the seder must tailor the answers to all learning styles that are sitting at their table. And the list goes on.

While at a treatment center, the process is based on the students' motivation to progress further and grow. Using incentives- focused on independence, the student is motivated to apply the skills they learn and practice in every controlled and uncontrolled environment. Each path is different as each student comes in with a different set of tools, behaviors, and experiences.

Lastly, the Seder night is a time designated towards removing ourselves from everyday stressors so we as families, and as a people, can focus on our journey.

Meromim is privileged to have a residence on a mountainside, offering a panoramic view of the luscious, green mountains of Israel. The numerous access to trails is unparalleled, offering multiple avenues to detach and recharge. The ability to remove stressors in a wilderness environment, while at Meromim, is handed to students on a silver platter.

This Pesach, as we sit together, take into account the benefit of removing ourselves from our usual routine to focus on growth; be it in our self, work, relationships or skills. Nowadays, with the Coronavirus forcing many to stay indoors, work from home and not go to school, we might relate to this benefit a little easier than in year's past.

Life is a journey. That journey for most needs a map. The Seder serves as that map, specifically for our context, how to successfully structure a therapeutic program.

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