Mount Gerizim, in the northern West Bank halfway between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, holds a special place in Jewish tradition. It was the site where half of the biblical tribes were commanded to pronounce the blessings upon the Children of Israel after Joshua led them into the Promised Land.
In Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim holds the highest position of honor.
Timisoara, Romania — As a child Luciana Friedman attended the community seders here each year with her parents and grandparents.
As a young adult, she comes with her husband. And she comes as a leader of an emerging part of the city’s small Jewish community.
When you think of Passover, you don’t usually think of bungee jumping, yoga sessions and reggae music.Unless you were at Nitzanim beach, near Ashkelon, this week.
That’s where the ninth annual New Age festival, Boombamela, took place during three intermediate days of Pesach.
Inspired by the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival, Boombamela draws ten of thousands of Israelis, most of them in their 20s, for 18-hour-a-day seminars with imported Indian gurus, performances by rock bands, and nude beaches. And sesame sumo bouts, roller skate courses and karaoke.
Grodno, Belarus — Tsilia Brido remembers her early Belarus Passover in her Polotsk hometown, her grandfather leading the seders in Hebrew, women from the neighborhood baking their matzahs in her family’s large wood stove.
“It was before the war,” she says, referring to World War II. Belarus was the first of the former Soviet Union’s republics to be invaded by the German army.
Brido remembers the seders ending after 1941, first under the Nazis, then under the communists.
On a Friday in January 1973, Jesse Perlstein retired from his job as a district manager for the Robert Hall men’s clothing chain.
The following Monday morning he walked to the Samuel Field Y, a few minutes from his home in Little Neck, Queens, and signed up as a volunteer.
The next morning he walked to the Marathon Jewish Community Center, his synagogue a few minutes away, again to volunteer.
Thirty years later, Perlstein is still donating his time.
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Are Heksher Tzedek rabbis, are the Uri L’Tzedek ethical preachers, any better than the Rubashkins of Agriprocessors? Not when it come to Sukkot. When it’s Sukkos time, just days after Yom Kippur, ethics be damned.
In Bizu, Riki Mullu’s village in the Gondar region of Ethiopia, Jews would bless each other with the greeting Enkwan bessalam adarressachew on the first night of Passover. It means, in Amharic, “Good God brought you to this time.”
Some Ethiopian Jews, including Mullu, and some American Jews will exchange the greeting Saturday night.
Chassida-Shmella, an Ethiopian Jewish organization that Mullu formed in New York a year ago, will sponsor what it calls “the first annual Ethiopian-Israeli seder” in a classroom on the Upper West Side.
In Israel, Passover is not a last-minute affair. The planning starts before Purim.
In the weeks and months before the first night of Pesach, tons of shmura matzah are baked, yom tov food orders are placed, seder invitations are made and accepted, and hotel reservations are confirmed.
The work isn’t reserved for families, merchants and rabbis.
Cities make plans too.
In Jewish tradition, Passover is known as the time of freedom. In some Jewish circles this year, it will be the holiday of free verse.
Two prominent Jewish poets will compose original works, on a Pesach theme, on the Internet, on deadline, as part of QuickMuse.com, a Web site that describes itself as “a cutting contest, a linguistic jam session, a series of on-the-fly compositions.”
Alex and Anna Nashbaum were typical Jews of their generation. They came to the United States from somewhere in Eastern Europe. Sometime before World War I.
Freda Snyder, their daughter, does not know the details. “My parents would not open up about their past,” she says. “They wanted to make a new life in America.”
Snyder knows this about her parents: they were Orthodox. Alex, a tailor, “was a shul-goer — all the time.” Anna, a homemaker, made a kosher home.