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During Passover, some vegetarians use a broiled beet instead of a lamb bone on their seder plate. The beet, blood-red in colour, serves as a reminder of the Paschal sacrifice. Others use an avocado pit instead of a lamb bone on their seder plate.
According to tradition, Miriam gave water from her well to sustain the Israelites in the desert. Some people honour Miriam by placing a cup for her at the seder table and pouring water from their glasses into her cup.
In the mid 1930s, Maxwell House in America started giving out Haggadot to clarify that coffee beans are kosher for Passover, and thus prevent a dip in coffee sales. Distributed nearly every year since, there are now more than 50 million copies in print.
During the Civil War, despite the divide, Union and Confederate Jews bonded together during Passover, even inviting their adversaries to family seders.
Jewish Civil War soldiers without ingredients for charoset put a real brick on their seder plate. In 18th-century Salonika, Greece, people added chopped stone to their charoset, and some Moroccans included grated rock.
Many Jews were in synagogue for Passover when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. The American Jewish Historical Society notes that synagogue bimahs "were quickly draped in black and, instead of Passover melodies, the congregations chanted Yom Kippur hymns."
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest matzah ball was unveiled in Tucson, Arizona, in 2010. Weighing in at 488 pounds, this giant matzah ball was made from more than 1,000 eggs and 125 pounds of matzah meal.
In the British territory of Gibraltar, Jews actually mix the dust of bricks into their charoset, a symbol of the mortar used to hold together the brick walls the Jews built in Egypt.
Coca-Cola makes a special batch of kosher-for-Passover Coke with real sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, because corn products are forbidden during the holiday. Look for the bottles with yellow caps.
In Vilna, Poland, during World War I, it was very difficult to find kosher wine. Rabbinical authorities made a special announcement to allow sweet tea to be substituted for the traditional four cups of wine during the seder.
Centuries ago during Passover, Jewish people living in the Sahara abandoned their fortified villages and marched into the desert, in memory of the first Passover.
Manischewitz alone sells more than 1.5 million jars of gefilte fish in the US and internationally — that’s almost one jar for every 10 Jews in the world.Persian Jews distribute green onions during the song Dayenu and hit each other with the stalks when the ninth stanza begins.
We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to...
Karpas (parsley that is dipped in salt water during the seder) kavannah (spiritual focus)--time for spring awakening, new directions--renewal and bursting forth of new ideas.
We take this time to honor others who travel with us from other faiths and cultural traditions. We acknowledge the fact that they bring a new perspective to our lives and a legacy of their own that enriches ours. We are grateful for the...
If we were to end a single genocide, but not stop the wars that kill people as we sit here.
it would not be sufficient
If we were to end those bloody wars, but not disarm the nations
it would not be sufficient
If we were to disarm the nations, but not prevent some people from starving while others wallowed in luxury
it would not be sufficient
If we were to make sure that no...
Who can say we’ve actually left? “Wherever you live, it is probably Egypt,” Michael Walzer wrote. Do you live in a place where some people work two and three jobs to feed their children, and others don’t even have a single, poorly paid job? Do you live in a community in which the rich are fabulously rich, and the poor humiliated and desperate? Do you live among people who worship the golden calves of obsessive...
EVERY JEWISH FAMILY produces a unique version of the Passover seder—the big ritual meal of traditional foods, served after and amid liturgy, storytelling, and song. We’re all surprised at each other’s customs: You eat lamb? You don’t sing “Chad Gad Ya”? And yet, virtually every seder does share a few common elements. Matzoh crumbs all over the floor. Wine stains on the tablecloth. A seder plate containing...
Our sages took some pains to ensure a Jewish calendar in which Pesach would always fall in the spring. (They were operating in a northern hemisphere context; I don’t think the challenges of antipodean Judaism ever occurred to them.) In the northern hemisphere, Pesach is inextricably connected with spring.
As the earth shakes off the constrictions of winter, her frozen places thawing, so we remember our...
by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Horseradish is hard to find in the hinterlands outside Gallup NM. On this dry bit of Earth, next to what's left of Navajo/Hopi/Zuni lands, Pesach was clearly going to be a new experience. I had taken the year off from Brandeis to join the Global Walk for a Livable World 1990, figuring the truest education would be to "get up and walk the land" (Gen. 13:17), and to "serve and...
The central imperative of the Seder is to tell the story. The Bible instructs: “ You shall tell your child on that day, saying: ‘This is because of what Adonai did for me when I came out of Egypt.' ” (Exodus 13:8) We relate the story of our ancestors to regain the memories as our own. Elie Weisel writes: God created man because He loves stories. We each have a story to tell — a story of enslavement, struggle,...
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 ...
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE ACTIVIST CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the...
You can look at the four sons as four generations of Jews in America today. The first generation of eastern European Jewry who emigrated to America at the turn of the century are represented by THE WISE SON. This is the Jew who grew up with a strong connection to the Jewish way of life. His commitment to Judaism is unshakable.
His son, the second generation, is represented in the Wicked Son. This is the rebel who...
More Clips from Miriam Shaviv
Jewish law requires the ritual washing of the hands before eating bread. This washing is accompanied by a blessing. But why do we wash before eating the green vegetable and why in this case is no blessing recited?
Fruits or vegetables dipped in water can acquire ritual impurity (Lev. 11:34). Washing before eating vegetables which have come into contact with water is a hold-over from Talmudic times. In that...