Sunday, April 1, 2012

"New American Haggadah" and Interfaith Seder - Shabbat-O-Gtram for March 30

Shabbat Shalom!

Just to let you know, our entire staff has pitched in for some lottery tickets.  if we win, next week's Shabbat-O-Gram will be written from Tahiti.  Check that - I mean GHOST written.  But while you fret about what it would be like for the entire staff to win multi-mega-bucks at the same time, you can take comfort in that each of us has pledged to donate a million to TBE if we win. I'm sure all of you would do the same (hint, hint)! 

Last night's Interfaith Seder was a fitting conclusion to our month-long "March to Passover."  Over 120 people representing many faiths, including about 15 clergy, gathered in our social hall to learn about the rituals and symbols of the Seder and share various perspectives on liberation, both personal and collective.  At how many Seders have you heard the Four Questions recited in Hindi?  This was a Seder that looked like America, with so many different voices heard, plus great music from Cantor Mordecai and the New World Chorus.  In addition the many Jewish lessons shared, We learned about the Last Supper as a Seder and how Moses is portrayed in the Quran.  I've uploaded some photos of what was a most memorable evening.  If you have pictures that we can include in our album, please send them to me.

The New American Haggadah (see  next blog entry for fmy full review
Much has been made of the newly minted "New American Haggadah," edited and translated by two shining stars of new American Jewish literature, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander.  I can't recall a Haggadah receiving more widespread publicity in recent times (with the possible exception of one written for interfaith families by Cokie and Steve Roberts), with the editor appearing everywhere from Colbert to NPR's "Fresh Air" (hear NPR interviews here).  Even the President received a copy, from one of the commentators, Jeffrey Goldberg.   On the first week when the book came out, the only book to sell more copies was "The Hunger Games."  They sold out the first printing in days, but the publisher regrouped and a second printing was completed in time for the holidays.  I received my copy this week and will be discussing it at services tonight and on Shabbat morning. 

There are a number of Haggadahs I'd choose over it for my Seder table.  Topping them all is Noam Zion's "A Night to Remember: A Seder of Contemproary Voices," where you can read passages  by David Ben Gurion and Primo Levi, and poetry by Marge Piercy and Yehuda Amichai.  If you are looking for ideas for your Seder, you can see the entire book online.  This wonderful book is a better-crafted sequel to the popular "A Different Night" Haggadah, which we use at our TBE Seders.  I also recommend the Reconstructionists' "A Night of Questions" by Strassfeld and Levitt, and the more scholarly"Go Forth and Learn."  Though too expensive for use around the table, the best current commentary on the Haggadah is the two volume"My People's Passover Haggadah"  by Hoffman and Arnow.  

A lengthy review by Leon Wieseltier can be found here.  In the interest of giving equal time for the editor to give his slant, see a video of Jonathan Safran Foer's  streaming discussion held at JTS yesterday, where  he explains why Englander did not use gender neutral language.

And more for Passover....
-- Click here for the downloadable 2012 Rabbinical Assembly Passover Guide.
-- Click here for my "Passover Preparations Guide to the Perplexed"
-- And here for the 2012 Sale of Hametz form
-- And here for Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner's Seder supplement chock full of those silly songs and explanations everyone loves.

The Israeli Network Comes to Cablevision
Good news!  The Israeli Network is now being offered locally on Cablevision as part of its tier of international channels, at a cost of $15 per month.  I've been watching it religiously this past week.  At a time when Israel is so often in the news, Cablevision customers will now be able to see Israel's most popular nightly newscast with English subtitles and gain a greater understanding of the complex issues that confront the Jewish state.  Several news and entertainment programs will include subtitles, and others (sports, music) speak in a universal vernacular that all can understand.  Although much of the programming has yet to be subtitled in English, American Jews will be able to engage with Israeli culture in a manner never before so accessible to those not as proficient at Hebrew.  Read more here.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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