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Food is associated with life. When the mourners return from the cemetery, they are served a meal with specific foods. By feeding the mourners and insisting that they make a commitment to life even in the face of loss, the community expresses its concern and caring for the mourners. Like the foods of the seder, the foods which make up the mourner's meal are deeply symbolic. For instance, the hard-boiled egg, common to both the seder and the meal of comfort is the symbol of new life, and of survival and strength, even in difficult circumstances.
We all know aboutPassover, that holiday when we Jews whip out our flat, cracker-like matzah, talk about the massive exodus from Egypt, and drink a whole lot of Manischewitz wine. As it happens, though, there are a few other things you might want to know about Passover! Here are some facts about the holiday that you probably never knew:
Passover is an...
Here is a kid and adult friendly alternative to for the Maggid section (the Passover story section) of the Haggadah. This short play is in the style of "sedra scenes" -- a contemporary take which makes the story current but stays true to the Exodus narrative. I've written it for large crowds -- so there are 13 parts, but if you have a smaller gathering you can easily double up.
Our tradition speaks of four children or four attitudes: the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the one who does not know how to ask. Each child has a different reaction to hearing about slavery. . .
What does the wise child say? “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the laws that apply to this situation? How are we to discern what God demands of us?” You are to answer...
As we sit here as free men and women, it is so easy for us to forget the hardships that our ancestors had to overcome for our freedom. The exodus from servile Egypt to liberated Israel is viewed as the most pivotal event in Jewish history. So why do we lean on Pesach?
It was the custom of ancient royalty to recline on the left for two reasons:
a) Food is normally held in the right hand. Leaning toward the...
I grew up in an irreligious home. We rarely belonged to a Temple (Synagogue was too traditional) and attending a service was even rarer. When we did go to temple you would never a yarmulke except on the Rabbi & Cantor (sometimes). The only tallitot were these little vest things that the clergy wore. The only Hebrew was the Sh'ma, the Torah/Haftarah readings and the Mourner's Kaddish (which is really...
Free people ask questions. We begin our Seder with questions. Although the custom is that the youngest at the table asks, tradition instructs that all must ask:
Ma Neeshtana ha-laila ha-zeh meekol ha-laylot? Sheh-bichol ha-laylot anoo ochleem chametz oo-matzah. Halailah hazeh chametz oomatz. Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot anoo ochleem sheh-ar yerakot. Ha-lailah hazeh maror.
Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot ayn...
Passover is a time for us to reflect on our own freedom and an opportunity to connect our lives with the struggles of others. At AVODAH, we support emerging Jewish leaders as they work to address some of the most pressing issues in the fight against poverty. We study the complex (and often overlapping) systemic issues that impact people in our country, and explore how Jewish tradition calls on us to respond. This year,...
Use this piece before singing Hallel and think about what it means to transition from slavery to freedom.
Exodus and Liberation translate many different ways for different communities, religious groups, and individuals. Chief Tom Dostou of the Wabanaki Nation of Massachusetts offers the following prayer in an excerpt from a larger piece describing his journey across his ancestral homeland of “Turtle...
On all other nights, we get biscuits and rolls,
Fluffy and puffy and full of air holes.
Why on this night, why, tell me why,
Only this flat stuff that’s always so dry.
On all other nights, we eat all kinds of greens,
And I’m starting to like them – except lima beans.
Why on this night, I ask on my knees,
Do we eat stuff so bitter it makes grownups...
Maimonides urged us to care for our bodies so that we would be free to concentrate our energies on God. In the modern world, one of the greatest threats to our physical health is mental stress. Stress causes insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression, memory impairment and countless other complications. As women, we are particularly vulnerable to the stress caused by multiple and...
By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder alternadox.net
Later on we will do 'rachtzah'─the washing over the matzah. Now we are doing 'urchatz', which amounts to washing before eating a vegetable. This is not something we do every day.
To explain, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, writes of dividing life...
More Clips from Kalsman Institute
The seder ritual seems to have it backward: One would think that we should eat the maror first, just as the bitter slavery preceded the liberation. But in truth, our chronology is not so simple. We need to have tasted freedom to really understand oppression. Maybe the lingering aftertaste of the matza can help see us through suffering and oppression. So it is, that the love we shared with our...
Finding and Eating the Afikoman
In hiding and seeking the afikoman, we reunite the two parts separated at the beginning of the seder. At this moment, we have the opportunity to discover lost parts of ourselves, to become reconciled with relatives who have become distant and to find wholeness in aspects of Judaism which may not have been part of our...