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Landscape / Booklet
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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.
[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.
It’s eight o’clock on a festive eve
The Haggadah sons shuffle past
They are wise, and wicked, and simpleton And one who doesn’t know how to ask
The wise son says “Dad, wontcha call on me.” I know the Torah and the codes
They’re good and they’re sweet
And I know ‘em complete
The others might as well take a doze. La-di-die-diddy-die. . .
Sing us a song you’re...
This is a compilation of ideas to help the seder be fun and engaging for the entire family.
Fun ideas for preparing the Passover table:
1. Include a Tzedakka box on the table. Have everyone put money in the tzedakah box before eating.
2. Yemenite Jews line the edge of the table all around with leaves of Romaine lettuce. The lettuce is then used for Maror....
This song was written to be part of Fiddler on the Roof, but was cut from the show before it made its Broadway debut for being too slow, and comic at a moment in the show when the people of Anatevka are experiencing tragedy. It imagines a world in which the Messiah is coming, but lost, and worried about us.
Words and music by Sheldon Harnick
When Messiah comes he will say to us,
“I apologize that I...
Kafka once wrote in his journal: "You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world. That is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature. But perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid."
The "you" that Kafka is addressing might be himself, or it might be each of us. But it also could be -- and here's the stunner -- the God of Exodus Himself. It accords with His...
At the end of the seder, it is traditional to say or sing " Next Year in Jerusalem". We sometimes think of this as a literal wish, though far fewer of us have actually found ourselves in Jerusalem for seder the following year -- congratulations if you have!
But Jerusalem is more than a place, it is a feeling, it is a hope. At this point in the seder, 1/2 or 1/4 sheets of paper should be passed around...
When we talk about God we are talking about the spiritual energy of the universe which makes it possible to transcend the tendency of human beings to pass on to others the hurt and pain that has been done to us, the force that permeates every ounce of Being and unites all in one transcendent and imminent reality. God is the Force in the universe that makes possible the transformation from “that which is” to “that...