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Passover

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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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The meal served during the Seder follows the form of a banquet olden times. . . The table is usually spread with the best of the family’s china and silverware, and adorned with flowers, in keeping with the festive spirit.” – The Union Haggadah (CCAR, 1923)

“In the manner of “spring cleaning,” thoroughly prepare your home for Passover. This, along with the different foods, dishes, and utensils that should be set aside and used only during Passover, will recall the special sanctity of the time, and impress themselves especially upon the imagination of our children, heightening the...

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