JBuzz Features April 14, 2014: Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Who wrote the Passover Haggadah?

Source: Haaretz, 4-14-14

Contemporary Jews read the Haggadah every Passover, during the Seder feast. But the book they ritualistically read now would be unrecognizable to ancient Jews….READ MORE

 

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JBuzz Features April 9, 2014: 7 Coolest Haggadahs for Your Passover Seder

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

7 Coolest Haggadahs for Your Passover Seder

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-9-14

This 14th century Haggadah is the earliest known Ashkenazi attempt to artistically depict the story of Passover. It’s a pretty creative retelling of the story, mainly because the people depicted in the story have the heads of animals….READ MORE

 

 

JBuzz Features April 4, 2014: All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

All The 2014 Haggadah Info You’ll Ever Need

Source: Jewish Daily Forward, 4-4-14

Likewise, the “Ultimate Digital Haggadah,” released too late for our Haggadah roundup last year, is an exquisite visual presentation (with accompanying narration)…READ MORE

JBuzz Op-ed April 6, 2012: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield: 8 things you need to know about Passover 2012

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8 things you need to know about Passover 2012

Source: Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, Fox News, 4-6-12

Passover is the holiday which celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the next stage in the unfolding biblical story of the Children of Israel. In 2012 it begins on Friday night, April 6.

Here are eight things you may want to know about it:

1.What is Passover and is it the same as Pesach?

Passover and Pesach are the same thing. One is simply English and the other is Hebrew. In either case, it is the holiday which celebrates the Exodus from Egypt and the next stage in the unfolding biblical story of the Children of Israel.

After centuries of slavery, Passover celebrates the passage into freedom for an entire people. The specific “passing over” for which the holiday is named refers to the way in which God passed over, or protected, the homes of the Israelites during the night they prepared to leave Egypt, as the last of the Ten Plagues was being visited upon the Egyptians.

2.When does Passover begin and how long does it last?

Passover 2012 begins at sundown on Friday, April 6. That is the date according to the Gregorian calendar. According to the Jewish calendar, Passover always begins on the 15th of Nissan, which is, according to the Hebrew Bible, the first month in the ancient Israelite calendar.

The holiday lasts for 7 days in Israel and 8 days everywhere else, reflecting a long-held custom honoring the fact that maintaining an accurate liturgical calendar far from Israel, where Jewish religious authority was centered in ancient times, was not so simple before people had modern communication technology.

3.What’s the deal with Matzah?

Matzah is the flat, cracker-like, unleavened bread which has become the central symbol of Passover, especially since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the end of the Paschal sacrifice.

The Bible specifically commands eating Matzah on the first night of Passover, and prohibits all leavened products the entire week of the holiday.

Like most great and durable symbols, Matzah invites multiple, and even contradictory interpretations. Sometimes referred to as “bread of poverty”, Matzah recalls the food that the Israelites ate when they were slaves. It also recalls the rapid liberation of the Israelites, which happened so fast that they did not even have time to allow the bread for the journey to rise before setting out from Egypt.

4.What does the word Egypt mean and how can knowing that help you?

Egypt, is not “Egypt” in the Bible. In the original Hebrew, it is called “Mitzrayim”, which means tight places, or in narrow straights. To be in Mitzrayim/Egypt is not simply to be a slave in a story from long ago.

It is the paradigmatic experience of being stuck between a rock and a hard place – an experience which virtually all people have at some point in their lives. Passover reminds all people that while getting jammed up can, and likely will, happen to each of us, there is always the possibility of redemption and release.

Whoever you are, and whatever faith you follow, Passover invites us to take stock of where we are stuck, and seek the help we need to get un-stuck.

5.Why is Passover the most widely celebrated ritual among American Jews?

American Jews, not to mention increasing numbers of others, celebrate Passover because it just works.

To put it simply, Passover is about freedom, family, and food. At least that is how it works for most people, and what more could one ask for in a holiday?

But it’s more than that.

Nowhere, and at no time, in 3,000 years of Jewish history have Jews known the kind of centuries-long freedom and security which are the American Jewish experience. The Passover story of freedom — of the journey from oppression to opportunity — is also the American story at its best, not just for Jews but for all people, and it rings deeply true when it is told at Seder tables across this nation. It makes perfect sense that this holiday has “won,” at least for now.

6.How is Passover celebrated, or, What’s a Seder?

Seder is the Hebrew word for ‘order’ and it refers to the carefully ordered Passover dinner party/symposium, typically held at home, which brings people together to experience the move from slavery to freedom in story, song, and conversation – especially the raising of questions about what it means to go free and to be free.

The evening is anchored by rituals including drinking, over the course of the evening, four cups of wine recalling the four times when the Israelites are described as being redeemed, eating the Matzah, and also bitter herbs, meant to evoke the bitterness of slavery. Those bitter herbs are dipped in a bit of sweet apple or date relish, reminding those gathered of the sweetness that can be found at even the most difficult of times, and of the promise of even greater sweetness to come.

7.Was the Last Supper a Seder?

The Last Supper is often explained, based on readings of the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, as having been a Passover Seder. Certainly the time of year at which Jesus came to Jerusalem fits, and the communal meal at which he gathered his disciples is suggestive of something like a Seder, with ritualized eating, drinking and teaching through conversation. Of course, those are also regular features of any classically Jewish meal of religious import. Also, according to the Book of John, the Last Supper was the day before Passover. Scholars can continue to fight this out, but one thing is clear: both the Last Supper and the Seder point to power of celebrating ones most deeply held values in the presence of those about whom we care, in the context of a freely offered table.

8.How are Passover and Easter related?

While the tradition of calculating the date of Easter based on the date of Passover ended many centuries ago, the holidays share some very deep truths of which all people can avail themselves. Who doesn’t need to be reminded that however dark and cold the winter has been, the promise of spring — of rebirth and renewal is always there? Whether discovered in the story of a nation that goes from freedom to slavery and back to freedom again, or in the story of one who lives, dies and is born again, we must all locate how to celebrate that life holds more possibility and potential than we first imagine — that there is reason for hope, and that in celebrating triumphs of hope from the past, we can unleash new stories of hope in the present and in the future.

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield is the author of “You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right: Finding Faith Without Fanaticism,” and president of Clal-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.

JBuzz April 5, 2012: Passover Guide 2012: Holiday Preparations, Laws, Haggadahs, Seder Rules, Recipes & The Exodus Story

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AISH Passover Resource Guide

Source: Aish.com

Themes

Haggadah

Seder

Crash Course on the Ten Plagues

A fascinating overview of the significance of the plagues.

Crafts

Games and Tips for the Seder

Spice up your Passover Seder!

Recipes

Passover Foods Around the World

Fresh, intensely flavorful Passover recipes from different Jewish communities.

Laws

Passover Cleaning Made Easy

By knowing what and how to clean, Passover cleaning needn’t be a chore.

Aish.com’s Passover Primer

An inspiring and thought-provoking compendium of articles that will transform your Seder experience.

Want to deepen your understanding of Passover, make them more exciting, meaningful and inspiring?

Aish.com’s Passover Primer is just for you. An inspiring, thougth-provoking compendium of articles that will transform your Seder experience.

Download it now, share it with your family and friends and take it with you to your Seder.

Click here to download.(It may take a minute to complete the download.)http://media.aish.com/documents/Aishcom-Passover-Primer.pdf

(To save the file to your computer: Right click on the file link, then select “Save target as”. )

Crash Course on Passover

Source: Aish

A fascinating overview capturing the meaning and joy of the holiday.

The 5 Most Important Things to Know About Passover

Our greatest contributions to the world summarized in five words: memory, optimism, faith, family, and responsibility.by Rabbi Benjamin Blech

Source: Aish

Scholars have long wondered why Jews who number less than one quarter of one percent of the world – as Milton Himmelfarb memorably put it, “The total population of the Jewish people is less than a statistical error in the annual birth rate of the Chinese people” – have had such a profound influence on almost every field of human endeavor.

What accounts for the remarkable fact that in the 20th century, Jews, more than any other minority, have been recipients of the Nobel Prize, with almost one-fifth of all Nobel laureates being Jewish?

Perhaps it all goes back to the very beginning of the birth of our people and the Passover holiday that we will shortly be celebrating.

Passover conveys five major concepts that became our mantras for how to lead successful and productive lives. They are the five most important things to know about Passover, and to incorporate into every day of the rest of the year. Because we’ve absorbed them into our national psyche for the thousands of years since the Exodus, we’ve been privileged to fulfill in great measure our prophetically mandated role to become a light unto the nations.

They are our greatest contributions to the world and can be summarized in five words: memory, optimism, faith, family, and responsibility.

The Importance of Memory

The Irish Catholic writer Thomas Cahill was so overwhelmed by how the Jewish people literally transformed the world that he authored what proved to become an international bestseller, The Gifts of the Jews. One of the major gifts he credits to Jewish genius is the invention of the idea of history.

“Remember that you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” “Remember that the Lord took you out of the bondage of slavery.” Remember is a biblical mandate that had never seemed important to anyone else before the Jewish people came on the scene. It was the Passover story that initiated a commitment to memory.

Henry Ford was famous for his belief that “history is bunk.” The Ford motor company is also famous for producing the Edsel. And both were probably equally stupid blunders. History is the only way we can learn from the past. History allows us to grow by standing on the shoulders of giants. Make a mistake once, and you’re human. Never learn from what happened before, and you’re brainless. That’s why it’s so important to heed the famous words of George Santayana that “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Memory links our past to our future. It turns history into destiny.

We know how horrible it can be to live without a personal memory of events that preceded. For an individual we have a name for it that fills us with terror: Alzheimer’s. It is a disease we fear perhaps even more than death because it leaves us living corpses. Strangely enough, we don’t have a similar word for the condition that describes ignorance of our collective past. Knowing what came before is almost as important in an historic sense as it is in a personal one. Only by being aware of our past as a people can our lives become filled with purpose and meaning.

Memory links our past to our future. It turns history into destiny. Learning to treasure it was the first step in our climb up the ladder of greatness.

The Importance of Optimism

To study the Passover story in depth is to recognize that the most difficult task Moses had to perform was not to get the Jews out of Egypt, but to get Egypt out of the Jews. They had become so habituated to their status as slaves, they lost all hope that they could ever improve their lot.

Without hope they would have been lost.

The true miracle of Passover and its relevance for the ages is the message that with God’s help, no difficulty is insurmountable. A tyrant like Pharaoh could be overthrown. A nation as powerful as Egypt could be defeated. Slaves could become freemen. The oppressed could break the shackles of their captivity. Anything is possible, if only we dare to dream the impossible dream.

In the story of America’s Great Seal, a particularly relevant chapter is the imagery suggested by Benjamin Franklin in August 1776. He chose the dramatic scene described in Exodus, where people confronted a tyrant in order to gain their freedom.

“Pharaoh sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his head and a Sword in his hand, passing through the divided Waters of the Red Sea in Pursuit of the Israelites: Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Cloud, expressive of the Divine Presence and Command, beaming on Moses who stands on the shore and extending his hand over the Sea causes it to overwhelm Pharaoh.”

The motto he suggested, words based on the Passover story, inspired George Washington and the founding fathers of the American colonies to rebel against their British oppressors: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

It was the biblical record of the Exodus that enabled the spirit of optimism to prevail for the followers of Martin Luther King in their quest for equal rights, because they were stirred by the vision of Moses leading his people to the Promised Land. It was the hope engendered by recalling how God redeemed our ancestors that allowed even Jews incarcerated in Auschwitz to furtively celebrate the Festival of Freedom and believe in the possibility of their own liberation.

That optimistic spirit, based on our own miraculous history, is the second great gift we have given to mankind and defines our identity.

The Importance of Faith

A pessimist, it’s been said, is someone who has no invisible means of support.

Jewish optimism is rooted in a contrary notion, a firmly held belief that we are blessed with support from above by a caring God. And that faith in a personal God gives us faith in ourselves, in our future and in our ability to help change the world

The God of Sinai didn’t say “I am the Lord your God who created the heavens and the earth.” Instead, he announced, “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.” The God of creation could theoretically have forsaken the world once he completed his task. The God of the Exodus made clear He is constantly involved in our history and has a commitment to our survival.

The Passover story conveys that history is not happenstance. It follows a Divine master plan.

Thomas Cahill credits the Jews not only for monotheism but for this additional groundbreaking idea of a Divine being with Whom we share a personal relationship. This, he points out, is key to Western civilization’s concept of personal accountability, conscience and culpability for ourselves and the rest of the world.

The Passover story conveys that history is not happenstance. It follows a Divine master plan. It has a predestined order. “Order” in Hebrew is “Seder” – and that is why the major ritual of Passover is identified by that name. Coincidence is not a Jewish concept. Coincidence is just God’s way of choosing to remain anonymous.

Faith gives us the certainty that whatever our present-day problems, history moves in the direction of the final messianic redemption. That is what has always motivated us to believe in progress and to participate in tikkun olam, efforts to improve the world.

The Importance of Family

Passover taught us yet another major truth: the way to perfect the world is to begin with our own families.

God built his nation by commanding not a collective gathering of hundreds of thousands in a public square but by asking Jews to turn their homes into places of family worship at a Seder devoted primarily to answering the questions of children.

It seems all too obvious. Children are our future. They are the ones who most require our attention. The home is where we first form our identities and discover our values.

More even than the synagogue, it is in our homes that we sow the seeds of the future and ensure our continuity. No wonder then that commentators point out the very first letter of the Torah is a bet, the letter whose meaning is house. All of the Torah follows only after we understand the primacy of family.

The world may mock Jewish parents for their over-protectiveness and their child-centered way of life, but they are the ones chiefly responsible for the extraordinary achievements of their progeny.

At the Seder table, the children are encouraged to be the stars and their questions are treated with respect. And that is the first step to developing Jewish genius.

The Importance of Responsibility to Others

One serious question begs to be asked as we celebrate our Divine deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. We thank God for getting us out, but why did God allow us to become victims of such terrible mistreatment in the first place?

A remarkable answer becomes evident in numerous Torah texts. We were slaves in Egypt – and so we have to have empathy for the downtrodden in every generation. We were slaves in Egypt –  and so we have to be concerned with the rights of the strangers, the homeless and the impoverished. We experienced oppression –  and so we must understand more than anyone else the pain of the oppressed.

The tragedy of our encounter with injustice was in no small measure meant to prepare us to serve throughout all future generations as spokesman for those with whose pain we can personally identify.

The purpose of our suffering was to turn us into a people committed to righting the wrongs of the world, to become partners with God in making the world worthy of final redemption.

We begin the Seder by inviting the hungry and the homeless to join with us. We conclude the Seder by opening the door for Elijah. It is our acceptance of responsibility to others that is the key to hastening the arrival of Messiah.

From earliest childhood every Jew identifies with these five powerful ideas that are at the heart of Passover and its message. And precisely because memory, optimism, faith, family and responsibility have become such vital characteristics of our people, we have been able to achieve far beyond what anyone might have considered possible.

Chabad Passover Resources

Source: Chabad

Pesach (Passover): April 6–14, 2012

Seder Guide   |   Passover Calendar

Haggadah | Passover Seder | Matzah | Passover Recipes | Maror | Passover Calendar

 

Passover Greeting Cards

Behrman House Passover Resource

Source: Behrman House

Passover Menu

Online Passover Haggadahs – Download and Print Haggadot for Pesach

Source: Judaism About.com

Haggadahs (Haggadot) contain the story of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt and are read each year at the Passover Seder meal. Download and print an online Passover Haggadah.

  • Chabad.org: Complete English Haggadah Chabad.org offers this free, complete Haggadah in English, published by Kehot Publication Society. It contains the whole service, from Kadesh to Nirtzah, with text and instructions.
  • Chabad.org: Complete Hebrew Haggadah Chabad.org offers this free, complete Haggadah in Hebrew. As a 23-page PDF file, it is ready to print and use at your Seder table.
  • Charles Finn: Modern English Haggadah This Haggadah aims to be a clear, practical Haggadah that everyone at a big family Seder can follow together. It is 16 pages of text with interesting illustrations. It is best to use this Haggadah as a companion along side a more complete Haggadah.
  • JewishFreeware.org: Free Downloadable Family Haggadah for Passover The Foundation for Family Education offers a variety of online Haggadot written by Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner: Very Brief Haggadah, Family Haggadah for Almost Novices, Family Haggadah for Novice. In addition, the site offers a Seder Supplement, Passover Guide, and even a Haroset Workshop.
  • Rabbi Blank’s Internet Haggadah Rabbi Bill Blank offers a downloadable Haggadah for $18. Reviews say Blank’s Internet Haggadah contains clear instructions and understandable translations. They also say it is designed well so that it is pleasant to use and read.
  • The Sephardi Connection: Passover Haggadah This Sephardic Haggadah reveals some interesting Sephardic Seder customs, such as putting charoset near the entrance to the house at the end of the Seder for good luck.
  • Uncle Eli’s Most Fun Ever Haggadah for Kids This Haggadah is not traditional, but it is very fun. Uncle Eli’s Special-for-Kids Most Fun Ever Under-the-Table Passover Haggadah is written in Dr. Seuss style. Enjoy!
  • Virtual Cantor: Vocalized Haggadah Listen to the entire Passover Seder service. Virtual Cantor has vocalized the entire Haggadah in an effort to help those who are far removed from synagogues or ill. This vocalization is also helpful to those who want to become comfortable and independent with the liturgy.