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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Passover Seder’

Got Israel at Your Seder?

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The Passover Seder is a special experience, a unique observance quite fitting for the Jewish People who pride ourselves on the preservation of our history, both our success and our suffering, through our collective memory. image

 

 

 

 

 

Kibbutz Beit Shitah 1955

Each community celebrates with unique customs that reflect its adaptation to life in different countries all over the world. In Israel, each of the Diaspora cultures continues to be represented on Seder Night – Leil HaSeder – ליל הסדר. These customs enrich our understanding and appreciation of the holiday, and they point to the diversity of age-old Jewish traditions that evolved from the cultures in which they were nurtured. image

 

Children in Israel has been singing about the arrival of Spring and Pesach for weeks, helping to clean the gan and taking part in a traditional seder. Every restaurant, car, and home goes through a spring cleaning – regardless of how observant one might be. It is tradition. It is our history. And even the most secular Israelis will find themselves at a Passover Seder of some type.

Photo by Leah Golda Holterman HERE in the homeland we only have 1 Seder night, while around the world it is celebrated with 2 recountings of the Exodus story. Could it be that, in addition to the halachic reasons, this is so that every Jewish home around the world should have that extra reminder of their home so far away? image As we turn another page of the Haggadah, how can we remind ourselves that this is the story of our return to Israel? Must it wait until the very, very end for the declaration of NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM??

And since we all know how tough it is to find the time and money to get to Israel, can we somehow fulfill this declaration of commitment from wherever we may be in the world?

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Haggadah of Independence, 1950s We sing of the release of the Nation of Israel from slavery, we recount the passing over of the Angel of Death of the houses of the Children of Israel, but within the text itself, it is easy to forget that the questions being asked cannot only connect us with this ancient history, but also of our wanderings and our journey as a people en route to our destination – our ancient home in the Land of Israel.

Not only should we ask “how are we to remember the plagues and our escape from bondage?”, but we should remember as well the land of freedom to which our destiny is bound.

“Just as in my youth we had a “matzah of hope” to carve out time from the historic ritual to remember the contemporary challenges of Soviet Jewry, we need to use this most popular Jewish ritual to delight in the miracle of Israel’s surviving – and thriving.” Virtual Citizen of Israel Gil Troy

As you prepare for your Seder night(s), let The Israel Forever Foundation bring the Israel Connection to your Seder ceremony!

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Click here to download Israel at Your Seder: Celebrating Our Journey to Freedom!
Just as we are to learn of the Passover story and the Exodus from Egypt AS IF WE WERE THERE, so, too shall we share in the connection to Israel from our corner of the world as if we are there.

Obama to Impersonate Pharaoh at White House Seder

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

President Barack Obama once again will hold a Passover Seder in the White House, perhaps a bit more serious than year’s National Jewish Democratic Council’s ego-centric desecration of the Four Questions, which his aides re-invented to glorify the Commander in Chief.

After “Preacher Obama’s” revival appearance in Israel, he is likely to take more seriously the Passover Seder tradition this year and is even more likely to come up with his own interpretations and meaning of the Seder.

For a man who had the chutzpah to tell synagogue worshippers in Florida during his 2008 presidential campaign that he is “blessed,” as indicated by his name “Baruch” that he said means “Blessed” in Hebrew, he will have no trouble in skipping over 2,000 years of Talmudic study of the Exodus of the Jewish People that led us to Mount Sinai and eventually to the Land of Israel.

Somehow, he will dig into the deeper meaning of Passover and declare that God brought the Jews to Israel to divide the homeland and give most of it to the Palestinian Authority, whose Muslim clerics also have done a nifty job of rewriting ancient Bible. According to them, the Binding of Yitzchak (Isaac) is the wrong version, and it was Ishmael who was bound. If you believe that, then of course the Holy Temples never existed and the Western Wall was Mohammed’s hitching post.

The problem with President Obama’s annual Seder ceremony, as evidenced by his “I believe” Hallelujah speech in Jerusalem, is that he truly does believe he knows better than anyone else, certainly better than Israelis, better than Arabs and better than Talmudic sages.

We would be better off if he were to run a repeat performance of last year’s travesty, when the “Four Questions, designed to educate Jewish children about the Seder, turned into a mockery of the president’s intelligence.

In case anyone forgets, the questions posed by the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) were: Why has President Obama provided record amounts of military aid to Israel?”; “Why has President Obama worked so hard and succeeded at uniting the world against Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program?”; “Why has President Obama achieved the historic passage of ‘Obamacare’”?; and, “Why has President Obama fought to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid?”

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Tobin wrote last year, “Passover is the occasion for Jews to remember their liberation from Egypt and to embrace not only the gift of freedom but also the ability to worship God and His laws as a people.

”While Seders are appropriate moments to remember those in need as well as other Jewish communities — such as that in Israel — which are assailed by foes, it is not the time to be delivering obsequious paeans to American politicians, no matter which party they belong to. That sort of absurd distortion of the festival of freedom bears a closer resemblance to idol worship than it does to Judaism.”

President Obama is not paying any attention to Tobin. In his pre-Passover sermon at the Jerusalem Convention Center last Thursday, he said, “The Seder… is a story about finding freedom in your own land. For the Jewish people, this story is central to who you have become. But it is also a story that holds within it the universal human experience, with all of its suffering and salvation. It is a part of the three great religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – that trace their origins to Abraham, and see Jerusalem as sacred….

“To African-Americans, the story of the Exodus told a powerful tale about emerging from the grip of bondage to reach for liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the civil rights movement.”

After invoking a quote by Martin Luther King relating to Moses and Joshua, President Obama continued to the next obvious step – the Palestinian Authority.

President Obama’s inevitable reference to the Palestinian cause when he sits down for his version of the Seder with 20 chosen guests this week will be accompanied by everything that is totally the opposite of the message of the Seder, and that is materialism.

The matzah is the simplest of foods, unleavened bread. Jew lived on Manna during their sojourn in the desert. No cheeseburgers, no ice cream and not even meat, except for the plague that swept the Jews when they demanded meat and the quickly became sorry for what they wished.

Passover 5773-2013 Is Around the Corner

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Following is the essential Passover set of reminders, if you will. We strongly recommend that you consult a rabbi or a friend or a friendly rabbi for any one of these items which may cause you anxiety. Obviously, one can spend all the time starting after Hanukah in preparation for Passover, but most of us don’t.

Passover—Pesach, the Jewish festival celebrating our redemption from slavery in Egypt in the 1250s BCE, begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar, which is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and this year begins at sunset, Monday, March 25.

Passover  is celebrated for seven days in Israel, eight days everywhere else. It is one of the top four Jewish holidays celebrated in America, alongside Hanukah, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur.

Passover-Pesach is unique among the holidays on the Jewish calendar in its prohibition against chametz, which is defined as five types of grains that have been combined with water and left to stand for more than eighteen minutes—the renowned “leavening” or fermentation. This includes bread and cake, but also a very long list of products, not all of them foodstuff.

The consumption, keeping, and owning of chametz is forbidden during Passover.

A typical observant Jewish home combines several means of dealing with this prohibition (you’ll be amazed how much of your physical space is mired in chametz):

1. A thorough scrubbing of all the areas in the home where food will be produced or consumed. The ground rule here is that the chametz should be removed in a manner similar to the way it was introduced—if it was through heat, then the particular utensil should be cleaned and heated for a period of up to one hour, and so on.

2. Covering all the areas where food is produced or consumed with paper, plastic, or aluminum foil sheets.

3. Storing all the chametz products of value (think single malt whiskey) in designated areas which are sealed until after Passover. Those areas are then sold through a special broker to a gentile for the duration of the holiday. You can also do it over the Internet, check out any one of these chametz sale websites.

4. On the eve of Passover, the head of the family checks the entire domicile for chametz, after which they recite an announcement that any chametz stuff that has not been discovered and eliminated no longer belongs to them (see it in the early pages of your Passover Haggadah).

After sunset, Monday, March 25, we all sit down around the seder table, to read the Haggadah, drink 4 cups of wine and eat our first bite of Matzah. This should take us well into the night, when we eat the Afikoman.

If you’re in the diaspora, you get to do the whole thing a second time on Tuesday evening. In Israel you enter the Chol Hamoed-intermediary days of Passover a day early. The holiday will be over in Israel on Monday night, April 1, and elsewhere on Tuesday night, April 2.

Please use the comments to add anything we may have skipped – remember, we were shooting for the essentials.

Can You Teach Self-Worth?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

She doesn’t just walk; she practically glides along, with a light-hearted bounce. Her laughter is infectious, her giggle ever-present, even during the dull periods of the day. Every moment is an opportunity, a learning experience. Her world is a wonder to discover and she feels proud of even her smallest achievements.


 


She is my 4-year-old daughter, soon to be turning five. She’s at the age where she’s already developed a unique personality. She has gained sufficient understanding and maturity to reciprocate in our relationship. But she is still young enough that the heaviness of life’s issues has not yet begun to haunt her. Her joie de vivre is still intuitive, natural and spontaneous.


 


And yet, as I eagerly greet her smiling face every morning, I am keenly aware that now and in the immediate years to come – in her young childhood – her self-image is being formed. Every interaction, every exchange will forge an essential impression on her emerging psyche.


 


Like a delicate seedling in its tender years of maturation, she is now developing an awareness of herself and her place in this world. And with a sudden heaviness, I realize what an integral role I play in her feelings of self-value, and in whether her lightness and brightness will be enhanced or be diminished.


 


So, along with wanting to teach her so many things, so many skills, and so much knowledge about the world around her, more than anything, I want to teach her about herself. Foremost, I want to give her the precious gift of self-love – an inherent love, not because of anything she knows or does, but because of who she is, a creation of G‑d.


 


In these formative years, I want to teach her that her mistakes don’t detract from her value. That she can grow and learn -  and should use these opportunities as an impetus for greater good – but she should never allow failures to chip away at her inner core, her cheer or her confidence.


 


I want to teach her that her accomplishments, talents, great personality and charisma are some of her winning attributes, but that her self-worth is not dependent on these or on how others view her. She is unique, unlike anyone else in the entire world. She has a mission that she, and only she, can accomplish.


 


And I want to imbue her with the feeling that my love for her is unconditional. Not because she is adorable, capable, bright or sweet, which she is. But just because she is mine. My daughter, forever and for all times.


 


These are formidable values that I want to impart. And yet, it is in these crucial, youthful years that she will develop this innate awareness of who she is.


 


Passover is the holiday when we became G‑d’s chosen people. In those crucial, first years as a nation, G‑d tangibly conveyed His love for us. We had no mitzvot, nor any merits and we didn’t deserve to be redeemed. Yet, G‑d showed us unconditional love that was not dependent on our spiritual strengths, talents or stamina.


 


He chose us not because of what we would accomplish in the years and millennia to come.


 


Not because we would accept His covenant, His rules, and His laws.


 


Not because of our dedication, self-sacrifice or commitment.


 


Not because we were to become a light unto all the nations and teach morality and goodness in every country where we would sojourn.


 


There are many other Jewish holidays when we commemorate, celebrate and rejoice in these particular aspects of our relationship and development as G‑d’s chosen nation.


But on Passover, in our youthful years as a nation, just as our self-image was being forged, G‑d wanted to convey to us His infinite love for us. Just because we are His.


 


Perhaps that is why, of all the many Jewish holidays, the one that is most observed – even by those who profess to be “unobservant” – is Passover and the Passover Seder.


 


For it represents G‑d’s love and connection to us that is timeless, unchanging and unconditional.


 


A love that is ever-present, irrespective of what we do. But simply because of who we are – His chosen one.


 


This innate love and self-worth has helped us to survive and thrive as a nation, throughout all of our years of growth and prosperity, and even times of suffering and difficulty – until today.


 


Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration. Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers – Stories that Speak to the Heart and Soul and Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/can-you-teach-self-worth/2009/04/07/

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