Categories
Passover Pesach

Passover Round-up from CCAR Members

RavBlog has collected a series of supplemental readings from CCAR members for a  special “Passover Round-up.”  These are meant to be meaningful supplements for your seder, for use in addition to your Haggadot.  If you are in need of last minute Haggadot for your seder, remember that CCAR Press offers both The New Union Haggadah and Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family on your eReader!

 

Rasha 5778 by Rabbi Dean Shapiro

Pesach Yizkor: Redemptive Remembrance by Rabbi Jennifer Gubitz

Dayenu: For All Times by Rabbi Lucy H.F. Dinner

Ask Me a Seder! A Passover Trivia Game by Rabbi Leah Berkowitz

Dayenu- A Special Passover Reading For American Jews by Rabbi Lance J. Sussman

The Women of the Passover Story by Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik

The Four Children of Metropolis by Rabbi Shawna Brynjegard-Bialik

Cancer Supplement for Seder by Rabbi Ben David

Dayeinu…When Will Enough Be Enough? by Rabbi Marla Feldman (originally for the Women of Reform Judaism)

2018 Passover Seder Supplement by the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte

 

 

Categories
Books Holiday Passover Pesach

Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family

Passover Seders in my family were always large affairs.  Persons who had no place to go for Seder (“Welcome the stranger…”) and persons of other faiths joined family members in celebrating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt more than three thousand years ago.  Whether conducted by my grandfather (mostly in Hebrew), my parents (much more in English) or my father-in-law (a Reform Rabbi who used a healthy mix of Hebrew and English), we joyously celebrated together.

Several years ago, I began to attend a series of programs focusing on interfaith issues for Jewish professionals and lay leaders conducted by the Outreach Training Institute (now Reform Jewish Outreach Boston).  After attending panel discussions, workshops and seminars over several years I decided to write a Passover Haggadah for the contemporary Jewish family – which may include members who were born Jewish, those who have chosen to be Jewish, and family members of other faiths.  Looking across the spectrum of knowledge, religious practice, and faith – from the observant to those for whom Judaism and Jewish Festivals and traditions were new – my purpose was to create a text for a joyful and inspirational family Seder.

The result of my efforts is Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis Press (CCAR Press).  It is illustrated with magnificent original art work by the contemporary Jewish artist Mark Podwal.  Sharing the Journey is an inclusive Haggadah that addresses the needs of every family member.  For family members and guests who are attending their first Seder or do not know what questions to ask about the observance of Passover, Sharing the Journey explains the meaning of the symbols and rituals of Passover in language that is clear and understandable.  For family members whose participation in a Seder is an important religious occasion, Sharing the Journey provides an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of God’s teachings through the story of the Exodus and to renew and strengthen commitment to the pursuit of freedom, tolerance, and justice.  For everyone, Sharing the Journey provides the framework for a joyful and meaningful Passover celebration – enabling all family members to truly experience the power of the Seder and the story of the Exodus: A shared Jewish experience that has historical and contemporary significance to persons of all faiths.

This year, the CCAR Press is offering a special 40% discount to “friends of the author” and I am able to extend the discount/offer to all ravblog readers and their families.  If you would like to take advantage of this offer, visit the CCAR Press website.  Add the book(s) to your cart and use promo code PASSOVER40 at checkout to receive your 40% discount.  Please pass along the discount information to members of my “extended family,” that is, your family and friends.

Early Best Wishes from me and the entire Yoffie Family for an inclusive, joyous, and inspirational Passover Seder.

Alan S. Yoffie is a former president of Temple Emanuel in Worcester, MA and an active member of its Jewish community.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Worcester Jewish Community Center and The Jewish Healthcare Center and as a member of the Ritual Committee of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough, MA.   In addition to Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family, Mr.Yoffie wrote a Seder Leader’s Guide, also available from the CCAR Press, which includes two CDs (instrumental and vocal) that provide a “musical companion” for the Seder.   

 

 

Categories
Passover Pesach

Seder on the Dining Room Floor

Years ago, unplanned repair work on our house in early spring devastated our kitchen and dining room, ripped up our living room carpet, and threatened to destroy our plans for a comfortable, traditional Passover Seder. Add to it that more than half the guests were under 6 years old and could barely sit still long enough to dip the karpas in the salt water and we quickly realized that our Passover celebration needed to be creatively re-imagined.

We wondered: how were we going to make a Seder experience that taught our multi-generational gathering about the holiday’s central messages? That we journeyed from slavery to freedom, and that we must help others do the same. Sitting around a traditionally set table was just not in the cards.

We discovered that with creative and open minds, a willingness to merge tradition and innovation, and an accessible flexible Haggadah, an engaging Passover Seder can be had.

We threw borrowed gym mats over the living room concrete, placed Seder symbol-laden coffee tables around the room, and let the kids roll around while we told stories, read interesting tidbits from the Haggadah, and experienced the tactile sensations of the rituals. We realized that like for any other meaningful celebration – a birthday party, for example – the key to memorable success was to intermix food, family, songs and stories, ritual and readings in a meaningful way. We discovered that tradition and innovation needed to go hand and hand.

STJCoverWe also realized that our Seder needed a Haggadah that was filled rich and varied readings, colorful interpretations, easily accessible instructions, and enticing visualization from which we could sample. We have become enamored with Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family (written by Alan S. Yoffie, illustrations by Mark Podwal) published by the CCAR Press. This rabbi-approved Haggadah is as accessible and creative as our personally cut-and-pasted booklets of our younger years with a few fantastic differences: Adults and children alike always seem to discover age appropriate material that uplifts and inspires. Teens and college students appreciate its ability to challenge contemporary understandings, while the grandparents like that it has enough traditionalism to recall their Seders of old. We like the fact that we can use it both at one night’s creative and another evening’s more traditional sit down Seder.

Over the years our Seders have changed. Our guests still enjoy the unique touches that invite contemplation: the football on the Seder plate, (suggesting that just as the Angel passed over the Israelites, perhaps we need to ensure that we hit our intended moral target), and history books strewn around the room (sparking a great discussion of whether the Exodus is historical or not and whether that matters). We just schepp nachas (are bursting the pride) that to this day our kids, relatives and friends enjoy these longer and deeper annual opportunities to explore the abiding lessons of Passover.

Rabbi Paul Kipnes is Vice President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and serves Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, California. Paul also co-wrote Jewish Spiritual Parenting: Wisdom, Activities, Rituals and Prayers for Raising Children with Spiritual Balance and Emotional Wholeness.

Categories
Books General CCAR Passover Pesach Technology

Post-Pesach Blog: Zero-Based Seder Leading with Sharing the Journey Haggadah

Passover might be over, but it’s not too late (or too early…) to look back and start to bank ideas for next year.  Rabbi Eddie Goldberg shares thoughts from his seder experience. 

Recently a stressed-out father asked me what haggadah would be best for a family with youngish children.  I was happy to recommend Sharing the Journey (CCAR Press), by Alan S. Yoffie and illustrated by Mark Podwal. But I reminded the dad that the haggadah does not a good seder make, by itself.  The more important question is not which haggadah but what is one trying to accomplish.  Indeed, a case in Chicago could be made for taking the children to Lake Shore Drive and asking them to imagine reaching a large body of water with a hostile army in pursuit.  What would they do?

Nevertheless, due to Chicago weather (it was snowing during the seder) and inconvenient rules involving religious rituals on state beaches, the seder we conducted last night was a close second to being the most authentic Pesach moment for the eleven of us, mostly cousins, who shared a seder for the first time ever or, if not, then in about thirty-five years.

In preparing for the seder I knew that the new haggadah would serve us well with its respect for tradition, beautiful appearance, transliteration (mostly) and contemporary spin.  I also spend a lot of time on a Power Point (or Keynote) component.  (I even have a version of the new haggadah on my iPad.)  Although I found the Visual Tefilah Haggadah supplement well done, I chose after considerable thought to use instead my own, which does not follow the new haggadah so much as provide a midrashic complement to it.  In general I see electronic tefilah (or seders) as an enrichment and not mirroring of the worship or ritual experience.

I am glad to report that, due in some measure to my efforts and the invaluable help of my 23-year old USC computer science grad, the seder came off without a hitch.  The incredible culinary talents and warmth of my wife did not hurt either.  It was great presenting a seder experience to contemporaries who thought that Maxwell House equaled the tip-top of haggadah offerings.  We also had a nine-year old cousin who had never attended a seder before.  She entered visibly scared and annoyed and left the star of the seder and having asked all the right questions and more!

Tonight the seder will be presented at our congregation with the new haggadot.  I know the food and atmosphere will not be able to  match last night’s efforts but I am delighted that, if we succeed, the haggadah will have proven its worth once again as a sacred component of an evergreen evening.

RabbiGoldbergSeder-2014

Edwin Goldberg, D.H.L., is the senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago and is one of the editors of Mishkan HaNefesh, the new CCAR machzor.

Categories
Books News Passover Pesach Rabbis Reform Judaism

Four Questions about the New Union Haggadah, Revised Edition

In anticipation of the forthcoming publication of The New Union Haggadah, Revised EditionCCAR rabbinic intern Liz Piper-Goldberg interviewed editor Rabbi Howard Berman.

1. In true Passover fashion, why is this haggadah different from all other haggadot? Can you tell us what makes it unique?  Why is this haggadah a good fit for the Jews of 2014?

NUH art sample 1A broad variety of historic minhagim, local traditions and ideologies are reflected in the hundreds of Haggadah versions available today. In the midst of this rich tapestry, the distinctive liturgical and spiritual heritage of American Reform Judaism stands in its own integrity and enduring significance.  Our Movement has always created liturgies to give expression to the special understandings of Jewish belief and life embodied in our liberal spiritual commitment. Characteristically, Reform Judaism – and particularly the Classical Reform understanding – has interpreted the Passover Story from a broad, universalistic perspective- as a paradigm of redemption and liberation for all humanity… to use Rabbi Herbert Bronstein’s wonderful imagery- retained in this new version – “living our story that is told for all people…whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold!”  The traditional Haggadah is far narrower and more particularistic in its vision, and other versions focus on particular ideological themes. Our Reform versions, all of which have built upon the foundation of the original Union Haggadah, embraces a far more inclusive approach, recognizing the enduring inspiration of the Exodus as a model for so many others, while celebrating its unique meaning for us as those who came out of Egypt.

2. What is the history of the original 1923 Union Haggadah? What was unique about that Haggadah at the time?

The 1923 version of the Union Haggadah was in turn a revision of the first edition of 1907. At that point, the pioneer Reformers had shifted the locus of religious life and worship from the home to the synagogue, where the principles of a new, modern, liberal Judaism were proclaimed in the liturgy and expounded from the pulpit. Passover was celebrated in Reform temples with well-attended services on the first and seventh Festival days, highlighted by the majestic liturgy of the Union Prayer Book’s texts expressing the vision of the “universal Passover” of future redemption and liberation of all humanity. However, in the early years of the 20th century, the home Seder had indeed declined in popular observance. The leaders of our Movement were confident that a new version of the Haggadah, which, like the Union Prayer Book itself, would be “at once modern in spirit and rich in traditional elements” would renew the compelling meanings of the Seder and inspire a revival of its celebration.  This goal was indeed fulfilled, and what had been an “anxious” hope was rewarded with the eventual reality today, that the Passover Seder remains the most observed religious tradition among American Reform Jews.

3. What new traditions have been added to this edition?  What did you want to keep the same, and what did you want to change, and why?

NUH art sample 2In the New Union Haggadah, we have attempted to preserve the literary beauty, the direct and accessible text, and the broad, universalistic spirit embodied in the 1923 version. We have rendered the majority of the English text in contemporary, inclusive, gender-neutral language, following the egalitarian values that have guided all of the CCAR’s liturgical developments over the past forty years. In the spirit of Classical Reform, this haggadah is conceived to be used as a forthrightly and primarily English language experience- with all of the major Hebrew texts included in transliteration, and accompanied by versions of the most popular holiday songs and hymns that may be sung in both languages.

We have introduced new elements in the text as well. These include traditional parts of the Haggadah that were consciously eliminated by the editors of the earlier versions. Our predecessors sought to remain true to the vigorously rational spirit of a liberal faith that rejected superstition and parochialism. The original Union Haggadah consequently omitted such well-known dimensions of the ritual as the triumphant enumeration of the Ten Plagues – considered a “vindictive act unworthy of enlightened minds and hearts.” While they provided for the tradition of welcoming of the Prophet Elijah, there was no particular ceremony attached to it – reflecting the ambivalence toward what may have been considered a remnant of ancient myth and fantasy.  We have reinstated the recollection of the plagues, retaining the beautiful and moving interpretation originated by Rabbi Herbert Bronstein in the 1974 A Passover Haggadah. This brilliant and creative rendition links the recitation of the plagues to the symbolism of the ten drops of wine- the diminishing of our joy at our own redemption as we recall the sufferings of our oppressors. We have also been inspired by the concept of echoing the ancient plagues with those of our own time – also a feature of the Bronstein version –offered here in a new form that weaves the two together. Despite the rationalist objections, Elijah remained stubbornly ensconced in the hearts of most Reform Jews. For the ceremony of Opening of the Door for the Prophet, we have reclaimed a little-known supplement created by the Joint Committee on Ceremonies of the CCAR and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations in 1942 – which brilliantly recasts this beloved tradition in the universalistic spirit of Reform Judaism, as an authentic question and answer dialogue between parent and child. In addition, we have incorporated more recent innovations that have broadened the embrace and symbolism of the Seder – the Cup of Miriam and the Orange on the Plate – with explanations that express the heightened awareness and contemporary sensibilities of these popular rituals, in a way that compliments the rest of the text.

4. Which aspects or traditions of the Passover seder are most meaningful to you? How are they expressed in the Union Haggadah?

NUH Page Sample 3Like so many of us, having grown up with the old Union Haggadah, its cadences and distinctive literary style echo in my consciousness as the quintessential sounds and images of Pesach.  The unique phrases of its Magid narrative continue to express the Festival’s timeless, transforming message. Preserving and creatively renewing this tradition for a new generation is the essence of my work with the Society for Classical Reform Judaism, and has guided my efforts in this project.  The Seder’s symbolic progression from remembrance to hope, from oppression to liberation to future redemption, all find profoundly clear and compelling expression for me in the Union Haggadah’s simplicity and flow.

Ultimately, what we “tell our children on this day” encompasses a rich and distinctive heritage that weaves together our identities and experiences as Jews, as Reform Jews, and as American Jews.  The seamless integration of each of these strands of our tradition and faith remain the unique genius of Classical Reform Judaism and the guiding principle of The New Union Haggadah.

Rabbi Howard Berman A. Berman is Founding Rabbi of Central Reform Temple of Boston. He is also Rabbi Emeritus of Chicago Sinai Congregation, and the Executive Director of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism.  

Categories
Books Passover Pesach Prayer Technology

Passover Blog: Using Visual T’filah at Your Seder

Mah Nishtana halaila hazeh?  What makes this seder different from all others? 

For many families and synagogues this year, it will be seeing the haggadah in a new light.  This year, the CCAR Press is excited to offer a Visual Tfilah companion to Sharing the Journey: The  Hagaddah for the Contemporary Family

Dan1Visual Tfilah, grounded in historical Jewish practices and built on modern technologies, mingles text and images on the large screen for all to enjoy. The images help give deeper meaning and connection to the ancient words, and the words up on the screen allow us to lift our eyes, our voices, and our hands. Visual Tfilah has become a popular way to enhance prayer services, and now it can enhance our Pesach seders, as well.

One of my favorite things on Pesach is to open the (printed) haggadah and see wine stains and crumbs from seders past.  It reminds me that in this ever-changing world, some things stay comfortably the same.  Its the same story we retell year after year.  The same rituals.  And yet, Im always excited to see what new materials, readings, and activities the seder leader will bring to the table.  While the story of redemption and freedom never changes, we are always changing, and finding new ways of reconnecting to the same story is essential to keeping the messages relevant and engaging.  The haggadah, after all, at its core, is meant to inspire us to ask questions.

Dan2A few years ago, a number of colleagues and friends participated in Tweet the Exodus.  Not only was it amazing to see the story told in 140 character segments, but some of the tweets contained links to exciting multi-media resources to tell the story.  A particular favorite of mine was a Youtube video of a family caught in their car surrounded by a massive locust swarm. (http://youtu.be/wxHOxCmbs-8). It was terrifying and awe-inspiring, and helped me understand better than anything else what it might have been like to witness this plague.  Can you imagine being able to share some of the other plagues this way? Or what about showing a short clip discussing what scientists have said most recently about the splitting of the Red Sea? You could even show a map tracking the 40 year journey of the Israelites stop by stop. Unfortunately, you cant embed Youtube videos in a printed haggadah.  But you can put them up on a screen.

Dan3And thats what I love about using Visual Tfilah at a seder: you can add new readings, videos, and more to enhance the experience and enrich the story (without creating a handout and adding yet another item to juggle on the table).  You could insert a PollEverywhere (polleverywhere.com) into the Visual Tfilah to ask your participants to vote on their favorite plague or even to pick the closing song.  You could ask participants to record a short skit ahead of time to be shown during the seder.  As long as you have the screen set up, you might even want to Skype in Bubbie who couldnt join you at the seder this year.  In fact, the screen becomes a blank slate for including almost anything you can think of, and the Sharing the Journey Visual Tfilah gives you the framework from which to unleash your creativity.

The nice thing about VT is that it doesnt negate the use of your printed haggadot.  No matter your inclination or comfort level, everyone can be included. Many folks are accustomed to using print haggadot and will be resistant to giving them up.  And anyway, who can deny the fun of being able to flip ahead to count how many pages are left, or even the benefit of being able to linger on a reading or an idea on your own?

Sharing the Journey VT is designed for both large communal seders, as well as smaller in-home seders.  If you dont have your own large built-in screens and projectors, smaller portable ones or even flat screen TVs will work perfectly.  In fact, an iPad and an AppleTV can be the perfect way for the seder leader to lead from her seat.

Sharing the Journey is also available as an ebook for iPads. (ccar.co/journey). One can follow along with the seder, just as in the book, but also find interactive features and embedded audio.  (Please note: we discourage disDan4playing the ebook on a large screen.  It is not designed for this and will be too difficult for seder participants to read.  Conversely, the VT is specifically designed to be projected and read from a distance.)

So while youd never want to spill wine on your iPad, nor get crumbs up on the screen, we hope Visual Tfilah becomes another tradition at your seder table, and a way to help all of us actually return to the table to finish the seder after the meal is served.  Chag sameach!

 
Rabbi Dan Medwin is the
Publishing Technology Manager, CCAR Press.

p.s.: A Seder Leader’s Guide, complete with two CD’s of music, is also available for Sharing the Journey.  In addition, the music can be downloaded from iTunes 

Categories
Books Passover Pesach

Pesach Blog: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Buy a New Haggadah

My history with haggadot is probably typical but certainly multi-layered.  I grew up with the venerable Union Haggadah.  In rabbinical school I was exposed to its successor, the “Baskin” Haggadah.  I then worked for an HUC administrator in researching various haggadot.  Even in the mid-eighties there were countless varieties, including one for vegans: The Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb.  Around this time David Moss was previewing his soon-to-be famous haggadah, Song of David.  I joked to my fiancée that she could have that instead of an engagement ring.  She took me seriously and we use the haggadah (alas, only one copy) every year.

For my family, after many years of experimenting we settled on the Shalom Hartman haggadah, Seder for a Different Night, and its successor.  They are wonderful resources but quite complicated.  For second night seders at the congregation I have used for many years the Eli Gindi Berhman House Family Haggadah.

Art from Sharing the Journey, by Mark Podwal
Art from Sharing the Journey, by Mark Podwal

In my new congregation – Temple Sholom of Chicago – I have decided to use the new CCAR haggadah, Sharing the Journey by Alan Yoffie, with art by Mark Podwal.  We will also try it out with our family on the first night.  The haggadah appeals to me because of its mix of being user-friendly and having some depth.  I am also excited about incorporating the visual t’filah element, having made my own power points for the seder in the past few years.

In the coming weeks I look forward to reporting how my preparation and execution goes.  Like a prayer book, I know that a haggadah does not a seder make.  But it is a sacred and useful tool, if it meets that elusive balance between being complex but not complicated.

Edwin Goldberg, D.H.L., is the senior rabbi of Temple Sholom of Chicago.