The orange is known for its healing properties. In the top ten for list for vitamin C, it is one of the first foods we reach for when we have the sniffles. You can almost smell the sunshine when you cut into the juicy tropical fruit.

While we have recently put Passover behind us, in some Jewish homes today, as you may know, you will find an orange on the seder plate. Although there are several stories circulating about this relatively new custom, here’s the real story: In the early 1980s, Jewish writer and scholar Susannah Heschel came across a Haggadah that included a story about a young girl wo asks a rebbe about what place a Jewish lesbian has in the Jewish community. According to the story, the rebbe angrily responded that “there’s as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate,” a contamination of the holiday that explicitly forbids keeping or eating leaven bread.

Because it wasn’t possible to add crust of bread to the seder plate, the following year, Heschel added an orange to her seder plate to symbolize the full and “fruitful” contribution that lesbians – and all women – make to Jewish life. Since then, many Jewish families have adopted the custom. Spitting out the seeds of the orange further reminds us to spit out the hatred and prejudice that gay people have historically experienced. 

Difference is something that children understand and accept intuitively. In The Flower Girl Wore Celery, a little girl learns all about weddings. For example, the little girl learns that the “ring bearer” is not an actual bear, that the flower girl does not dress up as a flower, and that sometimes there are two brides. In The Purim Superhero, with the help of his two dads, a boy learns that being true to himself is his greatest superpower. As his dad explains, “not all boys have to be the same thing.”

People come in all varieties. Trying to compare one person to another is like comparing apples and oranges. Each is perfect in its own unique way.