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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...
How is this night different from other nights? On other nights we are not obligated to ask the questions of what separates us from redemption. Tonight we are so obligated.
1) Why are women not yet universally recognized as being created in the divine image?
2) Why are Israelis still living in a state of war?
3) Why are millions of people still suffering from hunger?
4) Why are there...
There is a word in Hebrew — Teshuvah — that means return. It is an acknowledgement that there is always a chance for forgiveness, redemption and change. Our traditions teach that Passover is open to all. Everyone is welcome at this table. There is always room. Because no one is ever turned away, there is always an opportunity for a rebirth of spirit.
As a sign of hospitality to all, we open the door to our...
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...
With the fourth cup of wine we remember God’s promise to take the Israelites as God’s own people. Just as God took on the Israelite people, we pledge to look out for the different members of our community. As citizens of the United States we share certain rights of citizenship, such as a social safety net, equal access to employment, student aid, and jury service. However, these rights are...
With the second cup of wine we remember God’s promise to save the Israelites from the forced labor of the Egyptian taskmasters. With this cup we turn our thoughts to those in our community who have been forced back into the underground economy. We think about the returning citizens among us who so desire a fresh start and a family- sustaining job, but who are forced by society’s discrimination...
Passover combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take a vegetable, in this case parsely, to represent our joy at the dawning of spring after...
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.
The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the...
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,...
The Well of Tradition and Miriam's Well
One of our people's greatest strengths is using our tradition as a wellspring to renew our heritage as we pass it down from generation to generation. As Jews we have a living relationship with our past. Jewish history, Jewish traditions, and Jewish memories are not placed in museums and libraries for scholars to research. They are part of our people's daily lives. When we...
From COEJL’s “Preparing for Passover: Readings for the Seder Table”
Stewart Vile Tahl, COEJL
One of Passover’s lessons is learned to distinguish between more and enough. Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us.” Often, enjoying more wealth and comfort stimulates our desire for more – more attention, more comforts, more money, more, and more, and more. Passover and the...
1. What do you consider your “promised land,” or heaven on earth?
2. In Hebrew, the word for Egypt is “Mitzraim,” which literally means “narrow place.” What is one way that you wish for our society to be more open?
3. Moses is considered one of the greatest leaders in our history — he is described as being smart, courageous, selfless and kind. Which of today’s leaders inspires you in a...