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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 forcharosetput a real brick on their seder plate. In 18th-century Salonika, Greece, people added chopped stone to theircharoset, 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 theircharoset, 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 songDayenuand hit each other with the stalks when the ninth stanza begins.
The Pesach story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery and oppression. The sound of the breaking of the matza sends us into that fractured existence, only to become whole again when we find the broken half, the afikoman, at the end of the Seder.
This brokenness is not just a physical or political situation: It reminds us of all those hard, damaged places within ourselves. All those narrow places from which we...
The olive branch is a universal symbol of peace, associated with the dove in the story of Noah's Ark and the Flood.
Olive trees mature slowly, so only when there was an extended time of peace, with agriculture left undisturbed, could the olive tree produce its fruit.In 2008, Jewish Voice for Peace promoted putting an olive on the seder plate as part of its Trees of Reconciliation project, which sought to donate...
Traditionally, The Four Sons (or Children) include a wise son, a wicked (or rebellious) son, a simple son and one who does not even know enough to ask. Each of the first three ask questions about the Seder, essentially "Explain all this to me - what are my responsibilities?" "What has all this nonsense you are babbling about got to do with me?" and "What IS all this anyway?" while the fourth is silent - requiring the...
Not Just Handwashing
Ask for two volunteers: one to carry a pitcher of water and to pourwater over each guest’s hands, and one to carry a basin and a towel.
Use ice water to remember people who do not have warm water.
Have everyone take off their bracelets and rings, even wedding bands for the handwashing (or for the whole seder, to be returned when the afikomen is found) to...
Use this piece in tandem with the telling of the Exodus story. Think about the connection between the Jewish story of Exodus from Egypt to more contemporary examples of persecution and forced migration. How did the formation of the territory now known as the United States depend upon the forced migration of people already residing on the land?
The Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt is a climactic...
A discussion can take place regarding with which of the four children each guest identifies most, followed by a consideration of which populations are currently "unable to ask," who might be considered "simple," and more. Examples for a new set of four children may include:
One who sees the pain of others and works to relieve suffering.
One who cares only about him/herself.
One who cares only about...
The beginning of the seder seems strange. We start with kiddush as we normally would when we begin any festive meal. Then we wash, but without a blessing, and break bread without eating it.
What’s going on here?
It seems that the beginning of the seder is kind of a false start. We act as if we are going to begin the meal but then we realize that we can’t – we can’t really...
[Begin taking turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]
It is said, there is nothing new under the sun, yet nothing remains the same. Against the backdrop of eternity the earth displays an ever-changing countenance. The sun rises and the sun sets, yet each day and each season is fresh and new.
Slowly, one season emerges from another.
The harshness of...
Back to basics, get rid of what is bloated and inflated
“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything- whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting or struggling, in...
We begin our Seder by calling to mind the efforts of those everywhere who celebrate the Passover by searching for its meaning in their lives.
In our house, we're marrying multiple traditions, genetic lines, and ways of being. It's through rituals like this that we hope to form the strands of our life into a family that's woven together for all the time we can know. We're ecstatic you can join us for Octavio...
The whole point of the seder is to ask questions. This is your time to ask about things that confuse you, things you don’t understand, or even things you don’t agree with. There really is no is no such thing as a stupid question, especially tonight.
- Joy Levitt (age 16)
Questions are not only welcome during the course of the evening but are vital to tonight’s journey. Our...
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 period...