Passover 5771

A Jewish Week Special Section - The Taste of Freedom: Passover 5771

Passover 5771: Retelling the Story, Haggadah publishing trends, tweeting the seder, keeping the second seder fresh.


Passover 5771

Ancient Jewish Computers

In perfecting Judaism’s complex, lunisolar calendar, the Rabbis likely relied on advanced mathematics.

Passover, the Bible tells us (Exodus 34:18), is Hag Hamatzot (Holiday of The Matzot) whose time is Mo’ed HaAviv, a spring festival, that begins on the 15th day of Nisan, on the night of a full moon after the vernal equinox (“Tekufat HaShana”), following the Passover sacrifice on the 14th.

It’s an unusually precise specification. To ensure that Passover did not start before spring, the tradition in ancient Israel held that the first day of Nisan would not start until the barley is ripe, that being the test for the onset of spring.

DAVID FRIEDMAN, Numbers, 2011, 	acrylic and ink on paper 11”x 14.”

To Every Food There Is A Season

Jewish eating connects us, literally, to our roots in the land.

It was on a trip to the Sinai many years ago around the time of Shavuot that my eyes were opened to the fascinating cycles of the year. Kids and lambs were everywhere, nursing from their mothers. Bedouins were busy making cheese from the leftover milk, which they later dried and salted to save for the long winter when little milk would be available. Little tufts of green herbs — what we would call weeds — peeked out through the earth, to be consumed by the animals and people in the area. In the desert where so little grows, life is so deeply appreciated when it finally appears.

Israel, c. 1955. Courtesy of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee .

And The Seasons They Go ‘Round And ‘Round

Seeking a coherent life with the holiday cycle as our compass.

When I was a child, the Jewish holidays burst upon my days with no discernible pattern or connection. In St. Louis, as a young girl, I am a Megillah, parading around United Hebrew Temple, my skinny 9-year-old self sandwiched between two yellow poster boards with “The Story of Queen Esther” glued and glittered on the front. And then, some weeks later, returning home from services with my mom and my sister — dad was at work — we ate our Passover feast: crunchy sheaves of matzah slathered with cream cheese and Welch’s grape jelly.

TANYA FREDMAN, Midbar (Desert), 2010, oil and fabric on canvas, 30” x 30”.

Text Context April 2011

How do we measure the moments, the hours, the days, months, seasons and years of our lives? In this issue on the calendar -- which heralds the beginning of spring and the arrival of Pesach -- we explore how cycles of Jewish time are marked and experienced
Text Context April 2011

Is it Cruel to Force Dogs to Keep Passover?

Special to the Jewish Week

Q - I've heard that pets are supposed to keep Passover. I'm fairly traditional regarding Passover and just got a dog. Isn't it cruel to force an innocent animal to change its entire diet for a whole week? It's hard enough for humans!

A- As the proud owner of two adorable standard poodles, one of whom is extremely neurotic, I can sympathize with you.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Is Drunkenness on Purim a No-No?

Special to the Jewish Week

Q - In an age where addiction is so widespread, is it ethical to promote drunkenness on Purim?

A. No it is not.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Purim in the Digital Age

Leave it to Robert Pass, creator of the Jewish iPhone Community, to put together a comprehensive website with everything a connected, Jewish techie needs to celebrate Purim in the Digital Age. In addition to the Grogger Factory's 2010 contribution to iPurim with their virtual grogger, there are a host of other apps (some old, some new) for this year's Purim celebration. Check out the Purim page of the Jewish iPhone Community.

What Christmas Can Teach Us about Being Jewish

Special to the Jewish Week

Jews don’t celebrate Christmas, but it feels like everyone else does. And this “December Dilemma” forces us, as Jews living in a Christian country, to confront some difficult questions.

First of all, what do Jews think of Christianity? This isn’t an academic question. When Christmas is front and center in streets, stores and television screens, religious differences become part of the family conversation. I can remember my own children at a young age asking me, in their own words, “why did the Jews reject Christianity?”

Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz

Chanukah Recap: Viral Videos for 5771


Chanukah 5771 has brought a bumper crop of music videos destined to become holiday classics. These viral videos became breakout hits by using comedy and quirkiness combined with genuine talent to communicate universal messages. Here is a roundup of 5771 hits along with JInsider’s “Chanukah Classic of All Time.” (All videos can be viewed at

“Candlelight” by Maccabeats

Premise: A hip-hop twist on the Chanukah story and traditions.

“Miracle” by Matisyahu
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