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by Lisa/Leah Russ
I dreaded passover growing up. It seemed boring and oppressive and... dreadful with the emphasis on DREAD. I never really named it, but felt somewhere in my hungry gut that this wasn't a great place to be...my grandparents’ overheated undersized apartment in Queens, with these flat books in our hands, these hollow songs, this jelly on my fish.
A couple of years ago I was at a workshop called L'dor V'dor (generation to generation) and I thought about Pesach from my grandparents’ perspective for the first time.
They both came to the US from Vienna in the late 30's, in what would have been their university years. They both lost many family members in the Holocaust; my grandma lost both of her parents in concentration camps.
I got a picture in my head of my grandpa Joe, a 25-year-old newlywed in a new country, New York City (well, it was Jersey actually), getting settled in what would be his lifelong career as a garment cutter - this shy, hopeful, sad young man, this new husband and new dad and recent immigrant and non-english speaker (the guy still sounds like he hasn't been off the boat for long). This guy leading the seder cause nobody else made it and he and my grandma were basically orphaned. Grandma Ruth, leaving Vienna at 17 in a rush, no time to take the recipes she was too young to have really learned, in their ample and loving home where she, the youngest child, hoped to be a doctor and spent her time studying and playing with friends.
Cut to New York. Long gone the lush days of Vienna, or the simple comforts of home and family and the Haggadah they knew, recipes from many generations, the Seder plate and the cousins, and maybe Bubbe cooking and Zadie leading. Here they are, doing their own Seder in their apartment with their two little boys who would grow up to be absolute New Yorkers who don't know any German and, strangely enough, don't identify with Judaism, don't cherish and nourish traditions. These two sons who dread the seder, go only out of a sense of duty and, I think, knowing how dreadful it feels, are too pained to imagine my grandparents going through the motions alone.
Once I imagined the pain or the numbness they must have had around the seder, I was able to wrestle it back. Now I cherish the chance to celebrate with people that I love, to make food, to study the story and seek for application in my life and our world. I cherish the chance to honor Ruth and Joe and their amazing parents and struggles and sacrifices, and consider it my joyous duty to acknowledge, feel and someday move beyond, the sadness that encompassed them.
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
by Stanley Kunitz
Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
Passover is a holiday about freedom. The Passover seder is a special ceremonial dinner in which we gather together to retell the story of the Israelite's freedom from bondage in Egypt. The Hebrew word for this Holiday, "Pesach" has two meanings. The first is "Passing over" and refers to the fact that the angel of death passed over the Israelite's homes. Pesach can also refer to the pascal lamb -- which was ritually...
Mah Nishtana: What's New? What significant change has occurred in your life since this time last year? Name one meaningful piece of news.
Elijah's Cup is passed around as each guest speaks. A blessing or toast concludes the round.
Avadim Hayinu: Our Slavery. Identify the problem. What enslaves you today? What's holding you back from being freer, happy, and...
There they were at the Seder table, as they always are. Between the first cup and the second cup, right in the middle of the telling of the tale, they made their appearance, right on schedule. First was the wise child, the one who seems to have all the answers; sober, sensible and responsible in everything he does. “We knew the end was coming,” said the wise child. “Mom had a long life, a good life. Her time had...
Ahora es el turno de lavarse las manos
"baruj ata adonai eloheinu melej aholam, asher quitchanu ve mitisvotahv, be tzivanu al netilat iadaim"
Hace muchos años, Alugnos pueblos no judios, creían que, a los judíos no les llegaban las epidemias por su simple condición de judíos. Pero, en realidad, era porque ellos se "lavavan las manos" antes de que esté científicamente...
The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles. In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time. Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame...
I will deliver you...
Just as we remember all of the times throughout history when the nations of the world shut their doors on Jews fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands, so, too, do we remember with gratitude the bravery of those who took us in during our times of need — the Ottoman Sultan who welcomed Spanish Jews escaping the Inquisition, Algerian Muslims who protected Jews during...
Jill Levore's book Ghettoside argues that black boys are being murdered by their peers and their murders are being ignored by the police. In following the stories of a few victims in LA she finds the good cops among the indifferent and explores how a distrust in the police and a disbelief that the police would work for the community leaves disaster in its wake.
All Who Are Hungry
The Power of Choice
The Haggadah is asking which of two categories we fall under: Are we here because we are hungry, or are we here because we are needy?
"Need" is defined as "awareness of a lack."
Freedom is not simply something that's "nice" to have; rather it is a necessary factor to our very being. As much as we need food to exist, we...
“Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. If every grateful action were suddenly eliminated, society would crumble.”
– Georg Simmel
Gratitude and happiness are intertwined and for good reason. It is no coincidence that positive psychology practitioners and happiness experts state that in order to increase your contentment in life you need to boost your level of...