‘I never missed a seder,’ says survivor who risked his life to join family at a seder in the doomed Jewish quarter.
Near the start of the seders I conduct, mostly in former communist countries, I usually cite, then refute, the statement by Ahad Ha’am, the early Zionist leader, that “More than Israel has kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept Israel.”
The seder, I say, has preserved the Jewish people; most are not shomer Shabbat; most go to a seder, even it involves a sacrifice.
In a trend that has been growing in recent decades, the publishing industry – which has brought printing into everyone’s hands and allowed publishers to gear their products to particular segments of the market – now offers Haggadahs and related Pesach books that appeal on the whole, to specific parts of the Jewish community.
At shmura matzah bakeries, where the “guarded” unleavened kosher-for-Passover product is made, thoughts of the seders start around Chanukah.
By November, the wheat harvested in June — under supervision, to ensure that it does not come into contact with water and possibly become chametz — and ground into flour soon afterwards, is kneaded with water and baked.
Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers? Maybe it’s all those Jewish boys-turned-rappers showing up on YouTube, dressed in matching attire, grinning incessantly, singing Pesach lyrics to the tune of hip, popular songs.
When I think about the Passover seders of my childhood, I remember the giddy preparations: setting the table with my grandmother’s tablecloth and dishes, rolling the matzah balls and making place cards for each of the guests.
Most people are familiar with the four questions of Passover (especially all those youngest siblings out there), but while we Ma Nishtanah the same way every year, the important questions facing Jews are constantly evolving. To keep up with the changing times, for this column we asked: What would be a good Fifth Question to make this year’s Passover different than all others?
Q - "I heard from an observant friend that it is inappropriate to invite non Jews to a Seder; but doesn't it also say in the Haggadah, "Let those who are hungry come and eat?" So am I supposed to invite only Jewish homeless and hungry people? Plus, given my strained family dynamics, I think it would be best not to invite any guests at all. What's the ethical thing to do?
Each and every year, at precisely this time of year, I find myself struggling with the question of who owns Jewish history.
It sounds like an odd question, I know. In a sense, it is. But what I mean is that there are some chapters of our history that are so imprinted on the broader consciousness of western civilization that it often feels as if we have handed over our historical experience to the rest of the world, to use as it pleases.
I was a bit nervous interviewing two prominent journalists, but both of them were quite gracious interviewees, and, other than the book’s two Jesus and Pope John Paul II quotes, which, I admit, made me a little squeamish, it is a pretty good Haggadah. I especially like how friendly and down-to-earth it is, how accessible it makes the holiday, and how emphatic it is in stating that it is not trying to “Christianize” Passover.