Passover carries many meanings to different people -- historical, political, religious and personal. In the essays that follow, Isaac Steven Herschkopf, Haviva Ner-David, Neil Gillman and Charles Savenor offer their perspectives on the festival of freed
A student’s challenge offers new light
on Jewish people’s old experience in Egypt.
Special To The Jewish Week
‘In every generation,” we read in the Haggadah every year, “everyone must view himself or herself as if he or she had gone forth from Egypt.” This comes from the biblical commandment, “In that day you shall teach your child saying, ‘All of this is because of what God did for me when I went forth from Egypt.’ It was not only our forefathers that the blessed Holy One redeemed; us too God redeemed together with them. ...”
An unexpected question confronts
a pair of Jewish visitors in Cairo.
Special To The Jewish Weekv
The initial plan was spectacular. While studying at Hebrew University in 1990, Arie Katz, a Princeton grad who currently serves as the chair of the Orange County Community Scholar Program in California, and I journeyed from Israel to Egypt the week before Passover to tour and admire our ancestors’ handiwork, otherwise known as the pyramids.
Like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, the dishes emerge from the darkness of the Rubbermaid bins at the back of my garage, launching a reunion with long-gone relatives who come rushing across the parted sea into my patient, waiting arms. Slowly, I unfurl the newspaper wrapping and announce Pesach’s arrival in my home.
When I was a child, I watched my mother turn our New York suburban home upside down during her zealous Pesach cleaning. Later, as a young feminist, I resented the fact that my mother (with the help of our house cleaner) did all the cleaning and cooking before the seders, while my father led the ritual aspect of these meals.
I saw my mother as enslaved to an exaggerated notion of the halachic requirement to rid one’s home of chametz, which I thought was totally antithetical to the notion of Pesach as a holiday of freedom.
In those long-ago seders, who were the drab Peshevorskys,
and why were they at our table?
Isaac Steven Herschkopf
Special To The Jewish Week
Their name was pronounced Peshevorsky. I have no idea how it was spelled. Neither do I know their first names. I addressed them as “Mr. and Mrs. Peshevorsky.” It was such a mouthful, I had to practice saying it before they arrived.
They only joined us for the seders. It was, however, a perennial visit. Their presence defined Passover as certainly as the presence of a lulav and esrog defined Sukkot. The difference was, a lulav and esrog were more animated.
Like buds on a tree, new Passover Haggadot are a sure sign of spring. The most-published book in the Jewish community, the Haggadah appears in a variety of forms every year, appealing to the scholar and the beginner, the artist and the historian, the child and the senior citizen.
You’re already spending a fortune on matzah — no need to empty your wallet on small trinkets to ensure the kids stay up long enough to find the afikoman. Here, moms, grandmothers, and educators share their favorite low-cost and even free ideas for spicing up the seder experience.
From the asking of the Four Questions to the search for the afikoman, Passover is undoubtedly a holiday geared toward children. So this Passover, choose a gift for the host that will delight the children at the table. Attending an adult-only seder? These children-friendly gifts will bring out the curious kid in all of us.