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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 for charoset put a real brick on their seder plate. In 18th-century Salonika, Greece, people added chopped stone to their charoset, 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 their charoset, 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 song Dayenu and hit each other with the stalks when the ninth stanza begins.
The Shehecheyanu is a prayer that Jews have been saying for over 2000 years to mark special occasions. Tonight, all of us here together is special occasion. Whether Jewish or not, we have come here under a shared belief that everyone is entitled to be free. We all believe that everyone is entitled to certain inalienable rights. We all believe that we must treat our brothers and sisters with common decency. That is...
A Meditation on the Four Children
by Rabbi Brant Rosen
As Jews, how do we respond when we hear the tragic news regularly coming out of Israel/Palestine? How do we respond to reports of checkpoints and walls, of home demolitions and evictions, of blockades and military incursions?
It might well be said that there are four very different children deep inside each of us, each reacting in his or her own...
You can look at the four sons as four generations of Jews in America today. The first generation of eastern European Jewry who emigrated to America at the turn of the century are represented by THE WISE SON. This is the Jew who grew up with a strong connection to the Jewish way of life. His commitment to Judaism is unshakable.
His son, the second generation, is represented in the Wicked Son. This is the rebel who...
When we break the Matzah in half, we are symbolizing the split of the red sea. When we break the Matzah, we symbolize the hope that we can eat. When the red sea split, it symbolized the permission; yes you may pass, after hearing the word NO NO NO. During the Seder we get bored and we ask “When can we eat” and until this breaking of the Matzah, we get told NO NO NO. It is hope that there is food,...
Let us all refill our cups.
Leader picks up cup for all to see.
This is the cup of hope.
The seder tradition involves pouring a cup for the Hebrew prophet Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.
Yet the tasks of saving the world - once...
Over the years, the Passover story has evolved from a story just about Moses and Aaron to include their female counterparts. We set aside a cup of water for Miriam, celebrate Shifrah and Puah for their act of bravery and comment on Pharaoh’s daughter’s defiant move. As we commemorate the leadership of matriarchs in the Exodus story, the questions about our contemporary relationship to women’s rights and liberation...
THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because they had no love and felt alone in the world
Because they were afraid to be alone and tried to stick it out
Because they could not ask
Because they were shunned
Because they were sick and their bodies could not resist the disease
Because they played it safe
Because they had no connection
Because they had...
God brought ten plagues upon the Egyptian people as part of the Israelites’ journey to freedom. Tonight we read ten modern plagues that result from unfair, inequitable, and excessive practices in the criminal justice system. As we read each plague we remove a drop of wine from our glasses to symbolize our anguish at the suffering these plagues have caused.
By Marge Piercy
The courage to let go of the door, the handle.
The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very
stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles
of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,
a child’s naughtiness, a loud blistering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.
The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,
In Talmud Pesachim, Rava teaches, "A person who swallows matzah without chewing fills the mitzvah, the commandment, to eat matzah. However, a person who swallows maror without chewing doesn't fulfill the mitzvah to eat maror."
Matzah is Biblical fast food. Matzah is flat because the Hebrews were in such a hurry to get out of Egypt, they didn't wait for their bread to rise. They rushed out, eating crackers,...
by JEANNE LOHMANN
All day I try to say nothing but thank you,
breathe the syllables in and out with every step I
take through the rooms of my house and outside into
a profusion of shaggy-headed dandelions in the garden
where the tulips’ black stamens shake in their crimson cups.
I am saying thank you, yes, to this burgeoning spring
and to the cold wind of its...
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...