Beyond Miriam's Cup: Host a 7th (or 8th) Night Seder That Celebrates Women

Posted by Haggadot

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Image: Esther Broner hosting the Women's Seder in NYC (source: "Esther Broner - A Weave of Women", https://vimeo.com/68913536)

For those of you who have been paying attention, you already know that there are several female heroes in the Passover story - from the midwives who refused to kill the male firstborns to Moses’s sister, Miriam, to Pharaoh’s daughter, who raised Moses as her son. With so many women playing key roles in the Exodus, it’s ironic that some of us grew up on homes where women did not have a public role in our family seders. As a remedy, many communities host feminist model seders to honor the legacy of Jewish women who have led us to freedom, both in the Passover story and in modern times.

As an addition to the traditional seder, a women’s seder can happen on any night, yet the 7th day of Passover has a particular connection with women and miracles. According to legend, while we hold the first seder on the night that the Israelites fled Egypt, it is on the 7th day that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. Since Miriam and her band of women musicians are associated with the crossing of the sea, a custom has developed to gather on the last nights of Passover to honor and celebrate women. As a bonus, it can be a great opportunity to get rid of some of the last matzah or even the leftover kugel.

Tips for Your Women’s Seder

The liturgy from these seders, such as The Women’s Haggadah by Esther Broner, Ma’yan’s The Journey Continues (which uses feminine God language), or The Chicago Woodman Haggadah (that’s Judy Chicago, available on Haggadot.com!), have lead to increased visibility for honoring often overlooked heroic women from the Bible until today.

If you’ve created your own women’s seder, we hope you’ll share samples that you’ve created here on the site.

  • Formal or informal: You Choose

    If it is not the first or second seder, your gathering does not have to be a complete seder. It can be abbreviated, focusing only on a handful of sections of the formal seder - or it could even just be a meal that includes a text study, sharing circle, art project, or other form of celebration and ritual.

  • Guests: Females only or all-gender?

    You could choose to have a seder that is composed of exclusively female-identified guests, or host a gathering for all genders that still raises up the roles of women in the exodus and beyond.

  • Expanded Maggid For Heroines

    You might try an abbreviated seder with expanded “maggid” to highlight key female characters in the exodus story. This would include dramatic retelling of key moments of heroic women. Take turns playing each character. Imagine a conversation between the midwives, Shifra and Puah, as they planned their non-violent resistance. What was Miriam thinking at each step of the journey? What risks was Pharaoh's daughter taking to adopt this child? Another version of this would be to invite each guest to choose one character from the exodus story and one modern day female or genderqueer individual. Share with the group and compare for each: What was challenging for this individual to take on these heroic actions? What was standing in their way? What’s did they give up in order to be a hero? What did they gain? Who has been most impacted by their heroism?

  • Gender Justice Focus

    Or choose a modern day gender justice issue to explore at the seder. Discuss: What about those impacted by this issue seems like endless slavery? What is one step we could take toward ending gender oppression? You may wish to bring a guest speaker who can speak on behalf of an advocacy organization or who has received support from a non-profit addressing this issue.

 

Ready to get started? Here are some resources you might use to plan your women’s seder:


Online resources:

Haggadot.com’s Women’s seder resources

The Chicago Woodman Haggadah

Why Women’s Seders from RitualWell.org

Esther Broner - A Weave of Women (trailer)

 

Haggadot to purchase:

The Women’s Haggadah by Esther Broner

The Women's Seder Sourcebook from Jewish Lights

Ma’yaan's The Journey Continues (which uses feminine God language)

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About the author:

Passover in Pop Culture

Posted by Haggadot

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"A Rugrats Passover", Nickelodeon

It's true that Pesach doesn't have the pop cultural cachet of, say, Hanukkah. But as one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, there is an impressive range of pop cultural depictions of Passover. Read on to learn about four of the best-loved depictions of Passover and the Exodus story.

The Ten Commandments

No list of Passover entertainments would be complete without this momentous film. To modern eyes, Cecil B. DeMille's retelling of Exodus may seem a little hokey. But the film boasts an all-star list of excellent actors, and the sets and on-location filming (in Egypt and Mt. Sinai) are genuinely impressive. What's more, its special effects (especially the parting of the Red Sea) earned it an Academy Award -- as well as a reputation as the most expensive film ever made at the time.

'A Rugrats Passover'

Rugrats isn't just the favorite TV series of many a '90s kid: it also portrayed the Jewish faith of the character Didi (and her son Tommy) with sensitivity and grace. In this episode, the show's babies find themselves trapped in an attic with Didi's father, Boris. To while away the time, Boris tells the babies the Passover story -- and the babies imagine themselves as part of the story. The episode won considerable critical acclaim, as well as the highest ratings in Nickelodeon's history.

The Prince of Egypt

This 1998 animated musical is another '90s favorite, and it retells the Exodus story with fun and flair. DreamWorks' stunning animation drew both critical and audience acclaim, and the film's cast consists of A-list talent like Val Kilmer, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ralph Fiennes. A pop soundtrack by composer Stephen Schwartz keeps things moving and grooving. Keep an ear out for Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston's "When You Believe," which charted in the U.S. and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Shalom Sesame: It's Passover, Grover!

Sesame Street loves to teach kids about traditions from a variety of cultures, and the Shalom Sesame series focuses on sharing Jewish traditions with children who may not otherwise encounter them. In this special, Grover and his friends dash across Sesame Street, looking for horseradish to round out their Seder plates. Meanwhile, fun interstitials teach kids about the Hebrew alphabet and calendar, and various Passover traditions, including Mimunah. It's upbeat, educational and respectful, and a great addition to the Passover traditions of any family with little kids.

Printable Seder Checklist

Posted by Haggadot

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Not sure how to start your haggadah? We've created a printable checklist of the seder. Download at the link below. Happy seder planning!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b9n2h53ettxczbu/Passover-Seder-Checklist.pdf?dl=0

 

 

The Seder Plate's Persian Cousin

Posted by Haggadot

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Image from Bottomofthepot.com

It turns out that Jews aren’t the only ones with a plate full of ritual items in the springtime. Persian new year, Nowruz, comes in the springtime (this year it falls on Sunday March 20th). And as part of the preparations for Nowruz, Persian families--Jewish, Muslim, and Christian--prepare haft-seen.

Haft means seven, and seen is a letter in the Persian alphabet that makes the s sound. Haft-seen is a plate or table that has seven things that start with the letter seen. Each item has a symbolic significance, and many are generally related to spring and rebirth.

 

Haft-seen contains

- seer | garlic | medicine

- samanu | wheat-based pudding | affluence (or fertility, depending on who you ask)

- seeb | apple | health and beauty

- serkeh | vinegar | old age and patience

- sabzeh | sprouts or greens (usually sprouted lentils or wheat sprouts) | rebirth

- senjed | wild olive | love

- somagh | dried sumac berries | sunrise
 

And that’s not all. Many haft-seen tables include a slew of other objects that are related to the season. You might find:

- sekkeh | coins | prosperity

- sonbol | hyacinth | spring

- goldfish | life

- colored eggs | birth, new life, etc.

- candles | light

- a mirror | also light

- a sacred book

Haft-seen is not a religious holiday, so it is celebrated by nearly all Persians, including Jewish Persians, who will be setting up their seder tables in just a few weeks. And these Persian Jewish families are getting a head start on cleaning for Passover, because besides haft-seen, another way families prepare for Nowruz is by khooneh takooni. This translates literally to "shaking the house" and is basically a thorough spring cleaning.

Want to see some beautiful pictures of haft-seen tables? Check out our pinterest board with some gorgeous examples, and take some inspiration for your own seder table.

Looking to update your seder plate? Over time, the most basic components of the seder plate have been joined by some new friends. There’s an orange, symbolizing the struggle by Jews who used to be ignored by our tradition—like gays and lesbians, and women, and Jews by choice. A tomato, to represent modern day slavery. An olive for peace in Israel and Palestine. A roasted beet “bleeds” to provide a vegan alternative to a shank bone. Find more on all aspects of the seder plate over in the clip library.

Wishing you a happy Nowruz!

Exciting News!

Posted by Haggadot

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Very exciting news over here at Haggadot.com…for this Passover season, we’ve got a new partnership and new specialty Haggadot.  Here are some highlights – for the full press release, click here.

Our specially created and curated Haggadot include:

  • - “Greatest Hits” Haggadah (curated by Haggadot.com team)
  • - The Jewish Women’s Archive Haggadah (created by Jewish Women’s Archive)
  • - The JQ International GLBTQ Haggadah (created by JQ International)
  • - A Haggadah for Justice (social justice and equality content, curated by Haggadot.com team)
  • - The Anonymous Haggadah (created by Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others).

We are also partnering with Michael Hebb and Seder2015, who have provided two additional featured Haggadot and several other supplements and conversations:

  • - The Human Trafficking Haggadah, with partner Polaris Project
  • - The Interfaith Issues Haggadah, with partner Interfaith Family
  • - A recipe collection, edited by NYC chefs and cookbook authors Eli and Max Sussman in partnership with the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
  • - A compendium of Passover anecdotes, in partnership with Tablet Magazine
  • - A new initiative to expand the conversation about gentrification, in partnership with Repair The World

And did you know… about sixty percent of Haggadot.com’s more than 37,000 registered members are between the ages of 18-34, indicating that millennials – the digital natives who trust peer-to-peer content more than top-down authoritative content – are seeking out Passover content that is accessible and more personally reflects their passions and interests.

As always, we have our three standard templates – traditional, liberal and secular – for you to start building your Haggadah with, and over 2000 pieces of unique content from 600 contributors worldwide on the topics that are meaningful to you, like social justice, feminism, art, interfaith and addiction. And if you’ve got your own Passover content you’d like to share with the world, share it into our Haggadot.com library.

Check out the full press release for more information.

 

Call for Artists

Posted by Haggadot

From the team behind Haggadot.com comes Custom & Craft, a new site for publishing your own Shabbat services and Jewish celebrations. Soon, you'll be able to mix and match prayers, songs, and artwork for Friday night service, Havdalah, mealtime gatherings, and more. Find out more at http://www.customandcraft.org/.

We are currently accepting submissions for artwork from Jewish artists who wish to engage with ritual and Jewish culture, especially Shabbat. If you have already created such work, we would love to see it and share it with our audience! We can also supply a small fee for artists who create work for us. If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Community Coordinator Melissa Karlin. We would be happy to speak with you more about our website, services and how your artwork will be shared and used in our initiative.

We strongly encourage visual artists, writers and performers to apply. Please submit by providing a link to your portfolio website or images in file attachment to melissa@customandcraft.org

Another Year in Slingshot!

Posted by Haggadot

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We're honored to be part of the Slingshot Class of 2014-2015! Check out the full article in EJewishPhilanthropy.

Put the Finishing Touches on Your Haggadah

Posted by Haggadot

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Image from our new video "The Passover Seder - A How-To Guide"

We’re in the home stretch! Passover begins tomorrow night at sunset, so now is the perfect time to put the finishing touches on your Haggadah, and print it out so you have it on hand for your seder.
 
Can't remember everything you should have in your haggadah? We made this cute little video to remind you. Check it out--we're pretty proud of it. 

And if you think your haggadah could use a little something more, here are some of our favorite clips:

 
Wishing you a very happy Passover, and excellent seders!

Artwork for your Haggadah

Posted by Haggadot

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The Burning Bush

Passover is a few days away, and you’re probably putting the finishing touches on your Haggadot. If you’re looking to add some striking visuals to your Haggadah, we’ve got you covered with over 400 options. Here are some of our favorite pieces of art that you can add to your Haggadah.

Burning Bush

This striking stained glass-like image gives a dreamy feel to the miracle that kicked off the whole story.

 

Chad Gadya

You can’t have the traditional song about a goat without an adorable picture of a baby goat, can you?

A Seder in Europe in 1943

This picture of a seder held in Europe in 1943 depicts dozens of soldiers taking a break from fighting the Nazis to eat some matzah and have the customary four cups of wine.

Lego Slavery

The Israelites suffered greatly under Pharaoh, and this Lego image is surprisingly evocative. Use it as a challenge to the Lego movie lovers in your midst: who can create the most impressive Lego scene from the Exodus?

This is just a taste of all the art we have at Haggadot.com. Choose your favorites for your own Haggadah here.

 

Create a Video Playlist for Your Haggadah

Posted by Haggadot

Less than a week to go until the first seder, so it’s time to put the finishing touches on your Haggadot so they’re ready for you on seder night. At Haggadot.com we have tons of text clips that are perfect for your print Haggadot, but we also have dozens of video clips, perfect for helping get you into the mood for Passover, and for playing at your seder if you use electronics on the holiday. Here are some of our favorite video clips:

For the a capella lovers: The Fountainheads Dayenu medley

We guarantee this song will be stuck in your head for hours, plus it has stunning visuals, some excellent costumes, and live camels.

Stop Motion Yachatz

This stop motion video is a deeply creative look at the numbers in the seder, and the way that the breaking of the matzah might symbolize different things.

For the history buffs: Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the Four Freedoms

Which kind of freedom is most valuable to you?

Women of the Wall

If you’ve been following the Women of the Wall controversy, this video is a fascinating look at what it’s really like to be there. A poignant and emotional video that will spur lots of discussion about freedom of religion within Israel.

Check out all of our video clips here, or upload your own.

Did you see our shoutout in the Forward by Jay Michaelson? He wrote, "First things first. Haggadot.com has, in the three years since its launch, become a well-oiled Pesadik machine. Templates, video clips, clean web design — there is no longer any excuse for not making your own Haggadah, mixing and matching from the wealth of online resources, like making a Passover playlist. Haggadot.com is no longer just a start-up — to me, it’s the industry standard. Now I’m ready for Machzor.com." Read more here.