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Passover

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Israelis are used to being asked to open up their bags and backpacks for inspection almost wherever they go.  When entering supermarkets, malls, bus stations. You name it. Usually, this routine rite of passage is accompanied by the standard question "Yesh neshek?" ("Do you have any weapons?") Most people are willing to sacrifice a bit of time and privacy for the added sense of security that these checks give them. Over Passover, though, it seems that something other than security was at play at Afula's municipal park. People were asked to open their bags, but not in search of illegal...

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My Passover seder this year was spent in the company of the small Reform Jewish community in Lisbon, Portugal. Despite numbering around two dozen, they are the only option in town other than the Orthodox, which numbers around 500, as the Masorti (Conservatives) shut down a few years ago. This Reform community has not yet officially joined the World Union for Progressive Judaism or the European Union for Progressive Judaism due to some administrative issues, but the people in charge of this community are determined to become a part of the Reform world and to not only survive, but also...

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When someone asked a friend of mine what his daughter enjoys most about living in Israel, he explained that she loves the way the country’s secular rhythms synch seamlessly with religious time in a way that doesn’t happen in North America. By way of example, he described Shabbat and holidays as characterized by closed shops, quiet streets, and low-key television programming.

Admittedly, it can be more difficult to feel the rhythm of Jewish time in 21st-century North America, but it is possible – and for me, it adds a most welcome sense of grounding to my hectic life. Much of that...

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Each year the ancient story of Passover is told through the Haggadah, "the telling" of the story. The Haggadah includes prayers, biblical passages, stories, and songs, all designed to make the participant feel as if he or she were actually moving from slavery to freedom. Many remember the Haggadah provided by Maxwell House® Coffee. Over the years, many wonderful Haggadot have been published. Some have featured beautiful art. Others link the contemporary struggles of women, LGBTQ people, African-Americans and Palestinians to the plight of the ancient Hebrews. Some are designed to be...

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If I invited you to do a Jewish program for Passover and asked you to please bring a mattress, a bottle of wine, and some kind of aphrodisiac, you would probably look at me askance – maybe even consider having me investigated.

And yet, what do we do on Passover seder night? We drink four glasses of wine, recline on pillows, and eat every Jew’s favorite “aphrodisiac,” charoset, which is made from apples, wine, and nuts — the ingredients mentioned in the Song of Songs, the love song of the Bible.

What were the rabbis who compiled the Haggadah thinking?!

It would have...

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