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February 8, 2016 / 29 Shevat, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Seder’

Passover, Peace, And Palestine: An Arab-Style Seder In 1920s Long Island

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Passover at Irma Lindheim’s Long Island home in the 1920s was not your standard Jewish holiday experience.

There was plenty of matzah ball soup and brisket, to be sure. But the dining room was occupied by a makeshift tent, the Passover table was replaced by a pile of sheepskin rugs, and the Lindheim children were dressed in Arab garb. For Mrs. Lindheim – the national president of Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization, from 1926 to 1928 – Passover was an opportunity to make a dramatic statement about what she perceived as the common heritage of Arabs and Jews and her hopes for peace in Palestine.

The path that led to Irma Lindheim’s unique Passover Seders began during a trip to the Holy Land shortly after World War I. A visit to a Bedouin encampment near the Syrian border deeply impressed her. The sheik received her “so courteously,” the wives of his harem were so attractive, his children were so charming, the ample food was “so delicious in taste and aroma,” that Mrs. Lindheim had to wonder, as she put it, “Under what possible circumstances could such people and I possibly be enemies?”

In Mrs. Lindheim’s eyes, the Arabs of Palestine closely resembled the Jews of biblical times – so surely they should all be able to get along. She marveled at the fact that her host “pulled off my boots himself, and laved my feet with cool water, [just] as Abraham had done with the three strangers,” as recounted in Genesis 18:1-4.

“The customs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were customs of the present-day Bedouin,” she wrote. “When Abraham sat before his tent in the heat of the day…he did no differently than a Bedouin sheikh we encountered, resting before his tent in the Plains of the Huleh.”

As her personal contribution to the cause of Arab-Jewish amity, Mrs. Lindheim decided to radically revise her own Passover Seders. Her children “would wear the robes of the desert Bedouin and would eat their meal in a tent… to commemorate not only the flight of their forebears from slavery to freedom, but also bonds with the Arab people who lived now exactly as their forefathers lived then.”

On their first such Passover, “young Norvin [her eldest son] stood, tall and darkly handsome in his Bedouin robes,” to recite the story of the exodus before a group that included Sir Wyndham Deeds, first secretary of the British government in Mandatory Palestine, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the foremost American Jewish leader of that era. Wise was a renowned orator, and “his beautiful great voice boomed out” as the hosts and their guests all joined in reading sections of the Haggadah. Lindheim’s youngest son, Stephen, who was named after Wise, recited the Four Questions.

“To the children, to ourselves, and to our many guests,” she later recalled, “the Seder [was] at once an unforgettable experience in itself and, in its way, a family landmark.”

But Mrs. Lindheim was not content with symbolic gestures such as her unorthodox Passover Seders. She and the Hadassah organization undertook a series of projects in Mandatory Palestine aimed at improving Arab-Jewish ties, including providing free health care to Arab communities, establishing the U.S. Jewish leadership’s only Committee for the Study of Arab-Jewish Relations, and building the first Jewish-Arab playground in Jerusalem.

Generously funded by Mrs. Lindheim’s aunt, Bertha Guggenheimer, the Zion Hill playground opened near the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City in 1926, complete with supervisors trained by the American Playground Association.

Sadly, it did not last long.

In the late summer of 1929, Arab residents of Hebron and Jerusalem carried out widespread anti-Jewish violence. Since the Zion Hill playground was situated in a predominantly Arab neighborhood, the supervisors, fearing for the children’s safety, quickly shut down the facility. Two months later, when they returned to the site to reopen it, they were horrified to find local Arab children painting slogans such as “Down with the Jews” and “Down with the Balfour Declaration” on the equipment and walls.

Although one of the goals of the playground had been to promote good relations with the local Arab residents, chief supervisor Rachel Schwarz found that “amongst the Arab neighbors are many who took an active part in recent riots and are very active at present in the [anti-Jewish] boycott.”

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/passover-5773-2013-is-around-the-corner/2013/03/10/

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