Kneel Down to Open Something New: A Pesach Teaching

March 31, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Tired of eating matza yet?  And why are we still eating it anyway?  The seder is over; we have celebrated the redemption of our people and our journey to freedom.  So why, now in the middle of the week of Pesach, are we still eating the bread of affliction?  Our daily ritual of avoiding chametz and eating matza keeps the messages of Pesach close to our hearts (and our guts).  For the week of Pesach, matza is our daily reminder of affliction, and of transformation yet to be.

Professor Julius Lester is a retired African American Jewish scholar and activist.  In a modern midrash (creative commentary), he asks the question: “Why did God give the responsibility for Moses’ rearing to an Egyptian woman and the daughter of Pharaoh?”  Read the rest of this entry »

Pesach: The Miracle of Telling the Tale

March 24, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

What is the true miracle of Pesach?  Study the first half of the Book of Exodus or watch the film “The Ten Commandments” and it is clear: When the people of Israel, enslaved for generations, flees the Pharaoh’s horse-driven armies and escapes through the parted Sea of Reeds, the miracle is liberation!  And we will celebrate this liberation at our RS Second Night Seder!

Of course, there are always at least two answers to every Jewish question.  So yes, the miracle of Pesach is redemption.  And yet, embedded in our Haggadah, we find another miracle.  In rabbis of antiquity framed the biblical Exodus narrative with their own symbolism and messages.  Their focus highlights a second miracle that we celebrate even today. Read the rest of this entry »

Passover Traditions

March 19, 2010

By Rabbi Bill Kuhn

Passover and Yom Kippur are the same holiday.  Well, maybe there is a little difference, but they share many of the same themes.  It’s all about renewal, rebirth, starting over and second chances.  Passover takes place in the spring of the year for a reason.  All of nature appears to die in the winter, although we know it is only in a dormant state, and the gentle spring rains and sunshine will cause the earth to reawaken.  Trees blossom, flowers bloom, grass reappears and the natural world seems to come back to life.  All is reborn. Read the rest of this entry »

Haggadah Recommendations for the Passover Seder

March 16, 2010

by Rabbi Jill Maderer

Pesach is around the corner and the time has come to make plans for Seder, and to prepare to tell the story of the Israelites’ redemption from slavery to freedom! In the last week, I have received many emails with Pesach questions.

Q: Does Rodeph Shalom have a congregation seder I can attend? A: Yes! Please rsvp to our RS Multi-generational Second Night Seder!

Q: What Haggadah should I use at my own seder at home? A: Although no one Haggadah is right for every table, what follows are 5 Haggadot I can suggest for different needs. Remember: never feel like you need to recite the whole Haggadah! If you are the seder leader, flip through ahead of time and mark your book with post-its or notes—it’s all about pre-selection! Read the rest of this entry »

An Israel Update

March 9, 2010

By Rabbi Michael Holzman

Over my years at Rodeph Shalom I hope that I have been able to communicate my somewhat complicated relationship with Zionism and Israel.  While I certainly call myself a Zionist and believe firmly that there needs to be a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, I am also pained and frustrated with the recent direction of the state.  That pain comes from what I see as the corrupting influence of Israel’s amazing military and economic power.  Setting this power against past and current threats to Israel’s very existence is a recipe for confusion, ethical-lapse and the abuse of the other.  And now throw in the intransigent position of the greater Arab world and the particulars of Palestinian politics and that recipe becomes a potent cocktail for disaster.  Read the rest of this entry »