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How to have a better seder How to make the 8 days special

Pesach 5769

1788 Second Street, Suite 202, Highland Park, IL 60035 t: 847-266-1919 f: 847-266-1876 Email: Web:

Pesach is the most basic holiday in our Jewish lives. It presents our main theme—going from slavery to freedom. It is like growing up—going from simple certainty to complex maturity. It reminds us that the more freedom we get, the more responsibility we have. It is our most messianic oriented time and it is when we most poignantly consider our responsibility to the needy among us. It is the celebration that has the most activities—cleaning and eating, story telling and dipping, praying and door-opening. We consider it the most important holiday in conveying the joy and meaning of being Jewish to the next generation. The Torah says that each family will eat their own Pesach sacrifice. So it has been through the ages. Each family is responsible for its own Pesach, its own Seders, its own stories, its own rituals. No other person is in charge of your Pesach. But this brings with it a daunting responsibility. Will I do it right? Will it work for my family and my guests? All too often we start by thinking of what shtick will appeal to our guests, no matter how young, no matter how uninterested. Our guide is an attempt to help make Pesach work. It works best if you use it following the basic principle of Jewish education, outlined in the Shema: You shall teach them diligently to your children. But what do you teach? What you teach is what YOU take to heart, when YOU are at home, when YOU rise up and when YOU lie down. So start with what you want to get out of this Passover. What state of slavery speaks to you? What developmental journey are you facing this year? What rituals are meaningful to you and which do you want to learn more about? Relate it to the Seder and the entire holiday. Have you ever thought of the irony that the wicked child who asks the question, “What does this ritual mean to you?” is really wise? Whether the guests at your seder are steeped in Judaism or not even Jewish, use this opportunity to celebrate as family and share the universal themes of our Jewish experience. Hag Sameach!


The story of the Exodus is central to our Jewish identity.
We came from slavery in Egypt to covenantal freedom in the Land—that theme is central in all Jewish activity. But it reaches a crescendo with Pesach. This guide, which we have revised for this year, offers some suggestions for making this most observed holiday both more meaningful and more fun. We invite you to use it as a vehicle for enhancing the customs and traditions that are already part of your family. Its intent is to bring joyful Jewish consciousness to Pesach, not to be a club for one person to tell another what is right and what is wrong. Keep in your heart the words of Rabbi Harold Kushner when asked, “What does Judaism say about…?” the only legitimate answer is, “Some Jews believe as follows, while other Jews believe something different.” We have divided the guide into three sections. The first deals with ways of preparing and living the eight days of celebration; the second includes an outline of the Haggadah that facilitates organizing and running a Seder; and the third, ways of helping to make women true equals at the Seder.

Pesach Schedule

Shabbat Hagadol Maot Chitim Blessing the Sun/ Burning the Chometz 1st Seder 1st Day Services 2nd Seder Shabbat Pesach 8th Day Services including Yiskor

Shabbat, April 4 / 10 Nisan 10 am HPCH, 1991 N. Sheridan Rd., Highland Park Sunday, April 5 / 11 Nisan 9:45 am Deliver Pesach packages, 4500 N. Clarendon, Chicago Wednesday, April 8 / 14 Nisan 7:00 am Highland Park Yacht Club (Central St. Beach) Wednesday evening, April 8 / 15 Nisan Thursday, April 9 / 15 Nisan 9:45 am Slutsky’s, 220 Moraine Rd., Highland Park Thursday evening, April 9 / 16 Nisan Shabbat, April 11 / 17 Nisan 10 am HPCH, 1991 N. Sheridan Rd., Highland Park Thursday, April 16 / Nisan 22 9:45 am Slutsky’s, 220 Moraine Rd., Highland Park

Pesach becomes important in the most visceral way as we eat differently for the eight days that the holiday traditionally lasts outside Israel. Leavened products, such as bread, cakes, and cereals made of the grains rye, wheat, and oats made in ordinary ways, are banned. Crunchy matzah sandwiches, breakfast without Cheerios, and matzah pizza make life different. Eating differently symbolizes all the changes that Pesach represents--slavery to freedom, certainty to uncertainty, dependence to autonomy. Each meal stimulates questions about food in our master story from Adam and Eve eating the fruit, Noah offering an animal sacrifice, Jacob selling the porridge to Esau for a birthright, and Joseph dreaming of wheat before being sold into slavery in Egypt, then saving the country from famine and reuniting with his brothers in a segregated private room. It engages us with Moses in the luxury of Pharoah’s palace, to fleeing to the desert while eating matzoh, to the Pesach offering, to liberation and complaining about food in the desert, and ultimately bringing the first fruits to the Temple. Eating differently is a big deal. Nothing raises consciousness more than changing your diet. Matzah for leavened bread is the basic transformation. It represents the bread of affliction and the bread of freedom. It represents the bread of temple sacrifices. It is both the most simple bread and the purest. But then consider the additions the Rabbis made to this basic diet change. Have you thought about how complicated foods are and what is in the variety of foods we buy? What goes into ketchup, margarine, or potato chips? What does it mean to look at the main ingredient of a product versus the smaller additives in it? Do we consider details or look at the main picture? Is how we decide what we will eat on Pesach a vehicle for understanding ourselves, our families, and our communities? Do we respond to the impulse to follow a ritual perfectly, do we play out the change with actions of symbolic meaning, do we set our norms individually, or do we use a particular community norm? Then there arises the question of various traditions. Ashkanazi Jews traditionally exclude legumes, such as beans, peas, and rice from Passover. The Sephardim are accepting of these items. As you celebrate Pesach how do you define yourself in terms of your (probably Ashkanazi) ancestors versus identifying with the new, evolving, more Sephardic norms in Israel?

Shopping for Pesach items can become an exciting experience. Isn’t it amazing that, because there are some restrictions, people buy “junk” they would never consider the rest of the year. In fact, it seems everyone, faced with fantasies of deprivation, overstocks. Think about your state of optimism versus fear as you walk through the grocery aisles. Consider how you want your kitchen to look. Do you want to experience the “starting over again feel” of eliminating all that has accumulated chometz during the year or do you want to get some samples of the special- for-Passover products? What products do you buy? Matzah and wine are products that can represent support for the Israeli economy.


Sunset Foods has an outstanding Kosher for Passover wine selection. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignons from Hagafen and Baron Herzog and South African Backberg Estate Chardonnay, Israel has produced Golan Heights Cabernet Sauvignon and Dalton Winery ’Reserve’ of outstanding quality. Whether you have a full kitchen of exclusively Kosher for Passover products or not, shopping for some sets a tone. If you don’t ordinarily shop at a Kosher butcher, get a feel for the Pesach excitement that permeates the store. If you purchase Kosher meat, this may well be the time to make certain that you will follow the additional Conservative Hekhsher Tzedek, which certifies that the meat is produced with humane treatment of the animals and the workers. Empire products and the meat at Shavitz and Romanian meet the standards.

twentieth century These will have become the days when all Judaism was really authentic.)

Nothing can do more to get the whole family into Pesach than the “process” of getting rid of the chometz. First there is the removal. Use it up. Donate it to a food pantry. Lock it away. Old leavened bread represents the accumulated negatives that are part of all of us. This spring cleaning is an opportunity to start fresh.

Now, in our time, we have the opportunity to involve a non-Jewish friend or neighbor in celebrating our story of liberation. Here is how. Share the story of Passover with a non-Jewish friend. Write up a contract which gives them unconditional title to all your chometz and gives them full access to it even though it is in your house. If you want to do it the old- fashioned way, write a contract with the sale price high and due eight days later. The down payment is small. When Pesach is over, the purchaser chooses to default and you get your chometz back. Just as the Pesach story begins when Batya, the daughter of Pharaoh, rescued Moses, let your reenactment begin when your neighbor rescues your chometz.

For some families, having entirely different dishes, pots, utensils, and Cuisinarts makes the holiday. Others follow procedures, such as boiling water and soaking to change items. Others don’t. If you shlep kitchenware up from the basement, you more fully appreciate the experience of fleeing Egypt. If not, get a special pot or dish for something or maybe boil the tableware to feel the change. You may want to get a special “Pesach soup pot” that will create a tradition for future generations. Some day you will be somebody’s great-great-grandparent who actually lived in the twentieth century. (It’s hard to believe that the Four Questions will be asked by little ones who have never lived in the

One custom that really works was developed by Highland Parker Larry Cohen. It is “formally” 5

conducting the final chometz inspection the night before Pesach. With your children, become “official chometz inspectors.” Dress up as an inspector, and carry a flashlight and feathers. Search for chometz in your home and in the homes of your friends (give them a warning before you descend upon them) and certify their home as “chometz free.”


No kid or adult doesn’t like this part. Get what is left of bread or other chometz. Put it in paper in a fire-proof pot. Douse it with lighter fluid. Prepare a bucket of water to put out the fire, if necessary. The “service” is located in the beginning of the Hagaddah but the fire tells the whole story. As part of the every 28 year Birchat Hachammah, Blessing the Sun, ceremony, we wiill burn chometz communally at the North Shore Yacht Club (Central St. Beach in Highland Park) on Wednesday morning, April 8 at 7 am.

The Torah makes it clear. The sun and the moon and the other heavenly bodies are not to be gods to us. It is idolatry with no moral value. Yet go to Miami Beach, Eilat or even Club Med at Cancun (created by Israelis) and you will find beaches of worshiping Jews covering the exposed surfaces of their bodies with carcinogenic tanning mutations. The sun is the source of life and the energy that sustains us. Yet the prophet Malachi envisions it as the mechanism of consummate global destruction. Only in Chelm did they think differently. Through "Talmudic" discussion, they concluded that the moon is more important than the sun because the moon shines when you need it, at night when it is dark; the sun during the day when it is already light. We, too, under appreciate the sun. Renewable solar energy is under used. The migration to the sunny southern states was made possible by air conditioning which makes us cool yet contributes to the carbon waste in the atmosphere that interferes with the path between sun and earth. We fret about global warming, for example, yet we are thrilled by a warm day in winter. So it should not be surprising that we have a traditional Jewish ritual that we can reclaim to help us navigate our understanding and stewardship of nature without imbuing it with "moral" and magical powers. The rabbis of the Talmud celebrated the sun every twenty-eight years with an early morning gathering of blessing, Birkat HaChammah. This ceremony takes place this year on the morning of April 8-the 14th of Nisan-the morning before the first seder. What an opportunity to bless the sun without making it regular ritual practice. What a way to link the cleaning out and the burning of the old chometz with a focus on our most primary source of energy-photosynthesis for life, carbon and now global warming. We will meet at 7 am on the porch of the North Shore Yacht Club, which is on the lake below Central Park, at the east end of Central in Highland Park. Stairs from the parking lot lead directly to the Yacht Club. (There may be car access by taking Park Avenue all the way to the lake and turning right to the Yacht Club. The gate is not always open that early depending on other police duties at the time.) Meditation on this process will begin at 6:45 am. Whether we focus on the sun or the leaven we accumulated over the year as we balance worship with appreciation, isn't that the ultimate Jewish challenge?


The words at the beginning of the Seder, Let all who are hungry come and eat, are so important that the Rabbis put them in Aramaic, the vernacular language. For us today, Maot Chitim is the distribution of food to the needy in our community. This includes large numbers of new immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are the Exodus story of our day.

9:45 to 11:30 am, Sunday, April 5 4500 Clarendon, Chicago. South of Wilson Ave. Just west of Lake Shore Drive. Call the office 847-266-1919 and let us know if you want to participate. Bring a wagon or dolly. This is a favorite family mitzvah.

This preparation for Pesach offers all the opportunity to live the liberating Exodus experience. The goal of making Pesach a fun family experience represents the change from a slave to a free mentality. The decision to decide how to do it embodies the dilemmas of a free person and the sharing of the experience with family and friends is what being a free,responsible covenantal community is all about.

Open the door to your seder
“Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover with us.” Although the Torah stressed that every family was to eat its own or share in a Pesach lamb, that was reframed to invite those who need food and religious/cultural nurturing to share your Seder table. It is like bringing Elijah to the table. If you have a place at your seder table or you are needing a seder to go to, call the office and we will try to make a match.


Shabbat Haggadol
Before modern times, the Shabbat morning before Pesach was one of the two times during the year a rabbi would deliver a sermon. His task was to outline the intricate rules for observing the holiday. In many communities that is still the case. However, the haftarah for this Shabbat, the words of the prophet Malachi, the last words of all the prophets, has a powerful message. Consider it because it brings together meaningful concepts in Judaism. Some are comfortable and familiar while others seem alien at first. We will be redeemed. But it is conditional on our behavior. God puts it bluntly: You stand accused of having no fear of God, practicing sorcery, adultery, swearing falsely, cheating laborers, and subverting the cause of the widow, orphan, and stranger. These failings, described twenty five hundred years ago, are as contemporary as today’s cable news. God acknowledges that we may not know how we have been failing, but God makes it clear how: In tithe and in contribution. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse and let there be food in My House and thus put me to the test. I will surely open the floodgates of the sky for you and pour down boundless blessing. And then when your attitude and actions change: And you shall come to see the difference between the righteous and the wicked. Be mindful of the Teaching of My servant Moses, whom I charged at Horeb (Sinai) with the laws and rules for all Israel. And finally the last words of prophecy, the messianic vision for what it will ultimately be like: Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction. The messiah will be here when children and parents mutually respect each other. What does it take to get there? The prophet charges that our challenge is that we have not done well as individuals and groups in creating a holy society. The consequence is intergenerational tension. The way to bring the messianic era and with it harmony between the generations: to act with righteousness and tithing. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel put it clearly when he said, “Parents want their children to revere them, but to achieve that they must be worthy of reverence.” How must we act so that our children will see us as worthy of respect? That is not a bad place to start a Pesach dialogue. Think about it. What do your children really need from you? How do you really want them to appreciate you? How would you like them to be so that you respect them? As we share our views, the messianic era will truly come closer.


The planning for Pesach that leads up to the eight chometz-free days dates back originally to the grain farmers’ spring holiday, which became tied to the celebration of the Exodus. The Seder itself follows from shepherds’ spring sacrifice of the first lamb, which became the Pesach offering, first in the wilderness and then in the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple, the Rabbis developed the Seder, the most complicated ritual in the entire Jewish calendar, to continue the celebration of the Pesach festival. They based all of their creative development, which has been evolving through the centuries, on the words in the Book of Exodus, “And you shall tell your children on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” You can have a great Seder if people truly experience that they are part of the liberation from slavery to freedom. You can have a terrible Seder if your guests leave feeling enslaved and unaffected. To create a liberating experience, conceptionalize a Seder that speaks to you. Then think about how to share it with your guests and engage them in the process. The one thing you cannot have is a “complete” Seder. That is because, as Noam Zion has pointed out, there are multiple perspectives in the Seder that are mutually exclusive. If you follow every detail of the priestly Seder and do every step “right,” you will miss the opportunity to lead an interactive discussion Seder. If you are so absorbed in teaching the story, no one will get the opportunity to link personal and communal experiences to the text of the Haggadah. We all have needs to do ritual, so every Seder must have “traditional” elements. We all benefit from understanding, so adding insights gives meaning. And we all have engaging experiences only when we integrate what the text or others say with our own ideas and emotions, so our personal stories must be added to the communal history. The Haggadah can at first look like a series of random paragraphs or even fifteen unrelated steps. The task of using it as a guide can feel overwhelming unless you develop a sense of how it is structured. The chart inserted on a separate page is a listing of all the steps that are found in most Haggadahs. After you look the list over with your Haggadah, consider this multi-layered perspective, which builds on the base of what is involved in every Jewish meal, what is special for all holiday meals, our incorporation of Roman custom, and what steps are special for the Pesach story.

When the Temple was destroyed, the holiness of that place was transferred to the table. Every table became an altar. And every meal was to become a spiritual experience that transcended just eating. That is why washing the hands symbolized the preparation for ascending the Temple. It’s another way of appreciating the phrase “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”


One element of keeping Kosher is that you should be sitting down when you have a meal. Rather than being rushed, a meal ought epitomize the dignity that comes from being in the image of God. Pesach is the ultimate meal. Consider two options for your menu. One is that it is a link to family traditions—your grandmother’s brisket recipe or her sponge cake for dessert. Some feel that it is only really Pesach if you use the same limited ingredients that were available generations ago. Today, because of Israel and affluence in America, we have Pesach products that were never imaginable before. Maybe using them will enhance the celebration of freedom. Great cookbook authors like Judy Ziedler and our Aitz Hayim scholar Joan Nathan, have Pesach recipes, including non-dairy desserts, that make the Seder the best meal of the year. After every meal, the birkat hamazon is said. It is built around four blessings—for the food, the Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and the goodness of which we partake.

else is said and done during the week, an important moment of loving and caring will be shared during the giving of the blessing.

One of the ironies of history is that we often learn and take from the very people from whom we want to distinguish ourselves. Even as we rebelled against and suffered under Roman rule, we adopted customs from the Romans that are part of our Seder rituals. Eating dipped appetizers while relaxing and reclining was a style of the free life of the Roman Empire. It marked the opportunity to eat and talk leisurely. The Rabbis linked it to the Temple ritual by including a special purification hand washing before the dipping. Although for hundreds of years the karpas, or appetizer, has been parsley or a piece of boiled potato in Galitzia, it is a wonderful chance to expand what you dip to include artichokes in margarine, hot dogs in ketchup, gefilte fish in horseradish, as well as vegetables and hard boiled eggs in salt water. More than any other single step, this makes Seders user friendly. The afikoman was originally a Greco-Roman postmeal celebration of going from house to house schmoozing along the way. The Rabbis noted that eating the afikoman as a symbol of the Pesach offering was to be done by each family or group of families alone and nothing was to be eaten after the Pesach offering. So they took the Greek word and flipped its meaning around to make it the small piece of matzah which would mark the end of the meal.

Distinguishing holy time has been a central element of Jewish life. The Seder, like every festival celebration, begins with lighting the candles, blessing the children, and making kiddush over the wine. Every one of these seemingly essential elements of Judaism entered the tradition only after major debates and struggles. If they are a regular part of your family’s life and they epitomize the continuity of “Jewish” time, consider what special holiness you want this Pesach and what special blessing you want to share with the children and others at the table. If you have not benefited from the reinvigoration that comes from a weekly Shabbat kiddush or the bonding that comes from blessing the children, Pesach might be a liberating time to do so. Nothing is more comforting and encouraging to children (and parents) than knowing that whatever


The main focus of the Haggadah is four tellings of the Pesach story. They all follow the same form— questions, answers, and praise to God. The first telling begins with the Four Questions, tells the story of our freedom from slavery, and praises God. Even though reciting the classical Four Questions is a rite of becoming an involved Jewish child, let it be the beginning for additional questions. Let the answer which begins with the basic telling of the story, “We were slaves in Egypt,” open the door to a fuller sharing of the entire Exodus story. Use a chumash or let all the adults create a collective memory. The second is more abstract. It deals with four archetypal children and their struggles or lack thereof to be part of the story. Are these children representative of different types of people or does each of us contain them all? Does it make sense to call the child who asks, “What is the meaning of this ritual to you?” wicked? The answer begins with our evolution into the monotheistic Jewish people. The praise deals with our historic success in surviving and in trying to include in our community all kinds of people with different perspectives. The third telling begins with the short statement/ question, “Come and learn.” This is the story from Devarim 26: 1-10, which is the very story pilgrims told the Kohanim when they brought the first fruits to the Temple on Shavuot. In the traditional Haggadah it ends with the phrase, “God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with awesome power, signs, and wonders.” With the State of Israel, should we now add the next sentence, “God brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land of milk and honey”? How do we interpret the ten plagues that are part of this telling? Are they statements of how blessed we are or do they represent the price that is paid in

all conflicts? Does the song Dayenu really imply we would be satisfied, or does it mean we really are always struggling for more? The fourth telling utilizes the symbols of Pesach, the arrangement on the Seder plate. The three primary symbols are the matzah, the lamb bone that represents the Pesach offering, and the bitter herbs. In addition, on the plate arrangement are the roasted egg, which symbolizes the holiday Temple offerings, the salt water, and the karpas. When women (in another telling, gays) were told that they have as much place on the synagogue bimah as an orange has on the Seder plate, there was only one possible response—put an orange on the Seder plate. Now we have added an extra layer of meaning. A Jaffa orange from Israel conveys our ties to the Land and to the opportunity to actually go to Jerusalem this year. Perhaps in this year’s telling it might be meaningful to create a second Seder plate, with symbols such as handcuffs, which in our society represent bondage and security, rice which symbolizes our two traditions, Ashkenazi and Sephardic, a picture of the Pope at the Wall which demonstrates dramatic transformation in our two-millennia Jewish–Christian story, an American flag that proudly says that we can live among other peoples in a land of freedom, and El-Al tickets to Israel which remind us that we can go beyond even what Moses did.

Blessings are a way of noting the special significance of what we do. That is why the Seder is marked by blessings highlighting the special experiences we outlined above. The blessings are over the vegetable (karpas), the four cups of wine that serve to introduce the holiday, conclude the story, conclude the birkat hamazon, and conclude the final praise (hallel), the washing of hands, the matzah, and the bitter herbs (maror), and you may want to add a blessing in celebration of our privilege to eat a Jaffa orange.


The Seder begins with the special welcoming, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Our story has meaning only insofar as it is a commentary on the ultimate creation story—all people are created in the image of God. Our liberation from slavery to freedom must be our gift to engage us with the aspirations of all people. The Seder, especially the often neglected after dinner part, is the expression of our future goals. The image of Elijah, the carrier of our messianic dreams, carries with it multiple messages. Does it bring with it the hope that our victimhood in a hostile world will end with punishment directed toward our oppressors? Does it represent the full establishment of reconciliation between generations in a hospitable world? How we experience and conceptualize our world will influence how we live every element of our lives. In good times, the Seder offers us the memory of the evil we survived, whether Pharaoh’s Egypt, Hitler’s Europe, or Soviet oppression. In difficult circumstances, we remember the good and the opportunities that are ahead.

when we commit to the covenant of responsibility to ourselves, our communities, and God. While most of us will not participate in the formal counting during daily maariv minyans, we can each plan to express to ourselves each day a way (a mitzvah) through which we can assume greater covenantal responsibility. Six months after Yom Kippur when we listed the ways we missed the mark, we can use these fifty days to add to our personal and communal holiness. The final words of the Seder, L’Shanah HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim, Next Year in Jerusalem, guide us to go to Israel now. Whether it be a family vacation, a JUF mission, a study program, such as Alexander Muss High School, Ta’am Yisrael for eighth graders, Shorashim, Young Judea, an ulpan, or Birthright, opportunities are abundant. Here are some additional thoughts for an exciting Seder: We are obligated on Pesach to "tell the story" of the Exodus from Egypt. Further instructions are not forthcoming. Which parts of the story? From whose perspective? Which characters should be the heroes and heroines? And who should be the villains? How should we relate it to our lives? We are given a few commands about leavened and unleavened bread and how many days to observe. The rest, as they say, is commentary, developed from the rabbinic period to our own time.

The second Seder marks the beginning of counting the Omer. What was originally an agricultural counting of the time from the barley to the wheat harvest became, during Temple times, the link between the first pilgrimage of the year, Pesach, to Shavuot, the time of the first fruits. After the destruction of the Second Temple it became a time of mourning. Now we have an opportunity to reframe the Omer as a period of development and anticipation— going from receiving our gift of freedom on Pesach to Shavuot, fifty days later,


Once a Seder was reading through the Maxwell Street Haggadah. Now Haggadahs are written to be guides, not to be texts for reading. Classic Haggadahs, such as the Silverman and Bronstein, can be used for the table, but consider looking at the Hartman Haggadah, the new Reform and Reconstructionist books recently published, as well as an assortment of Haggadahs with perspectives ranging from feminist to peace, to ecology to psychology, to Jewish renewal. They have ideas, themes, and even plays for adult and child participation. Many invite participation and involvement and yet they, too, can be read hurriedly, with beautiful passages glossed over in the rush to get to the dinner. Ron Wolfson and Joel Grishaver have written a guide entitled, Passover, The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, that will provide significant help and advice. The Hartman Haggadah is a book which is designed as impossible to read from cover to cover, and which f o r c e s participation, not just at the Seder, but through preparatory activities in which everyone attending can become involved. In a sense, the Hartman Haggadah is a sourcebook. The Santa Cruz Haggadah, on the other hand, makes explicit many of the introspective questions the Seder encourages. To use either of these, the Seder leader must become a facilitator. One thing the leader can do is talk about what is and isn’t in the Haggadah. Since Moses isn't mentioned in the Haggadah text, for instance, people often assume they shouldn't mention his name. In reality, at the time the Haggadah was written, it was probably such common knowledge that Moses was involved that it wasn't deemed necessary. Today, when people may be less familiar with the story, it might be valuable to tell the story including such a central character. Another common assumption is that we ask four questions and get four answers. In reality, the Haggadah text never formally answers the questions asked. So why not view them as discussion points, as they were probably intended, and facilitate a discussion about what is asked. For example, implicit in the question about reclining is a contrast between a meal taken hurriedly, as a slave might, and in the relaxed mode of freedom. Yet the model of freedom is one of a Roman banquet in which reclining was the custom. What, you might ask, would be a question that would suggest a meal taken in freedom in the world of today? Consider the question of the wicked child. He/she asks, “What is the meaning of this for you?” The Rabbis viewed this from the perspective of an alienated child. Perhaps it has new meaning today. Is it not a legitimate question in the age of pediatric Judaism (when continuity is more important than what we continue) for a child to ask parents, “What is the adult meaning of this experience for you?” What a discussion this might stimulate!


Perhaps it will demonstrate how much children learn from adults talking rather than merely participating in childish activities. Don’t wait to eat. Karpas is a perfect opportunity early in the Seder to dip everything from fish to meatballs and hard boiled eggs to artichokes, potato chips, and broccoli. No one will ever again ask that old question, “When do we eat?”

Sometimes it is a good idea to give people preassigned sections to lead. With other groups or at other times, surprise is the key. Make your Seder different and fresh every year. Although it may seem that change violates tradition, in reality that is tradition. The brilliance of the Seder design is not the specific words it utilizes, but the tension it incorporates between fixed elements and varied, thus mirroring the essential tensions in ourselves and our world. We see this in the two central words: “Seder,” which refers to order, and “Haggadah,” which refers to telling the story. How do we utilize fixed anchors, such as the elements of the Seder plate, the four glasses of wine, and the eating of matzah, so that they can have the most meaning for people in a particular time and place? How can these anchors connect us to the story as we seek to make it our own? How we manage these polarities is what Judaism mentors us to do. A fun Seder is a learning Seder is a traditional Seder. In time, new traditions may be created and "field tested" and may become incorporated in the ongoing custom. Some

people put a potato skin on their Seder plate in remembrance of the Holocaust, where potato skins were the only available food, yet some used the skins to write out a Haggadah. And there is a custom from Afghanistani Jewish communities of “hitting” the person next to you with a green onion while singing Dayenu. This adds a note of levity and physicality to the Seder and it also “drives in” the message. Two customs to consider: Tealights, scattered over the table, are lit by each individual as they tell a story about a previous Seder, something about someone who isn’t there who they wish to “bring” to the Seder, or another memory or story. The tealights, gathered in central places in the table, glow brightly through the evening and the memories of one generation, for example, a grandfather’s davvening, are passed to another. Also, scatter pens and post-it notes on the table. Whenever someone has a thought or comment on a discussion they make a note and paste it in the Haggadah. That way, the next year, we can see where we “were” last year and remember things we want to make a tradition. The tradition, which demands involvement, invites us, actually requires us, to be creative-on Pesach and throughout the year. It is a law of nature that what doesn't grow and change, dies. In a festival of spring, a festival devoted to life and freedom, it is essential that we utilize the Pesach story to seek our own growth and new possibilities. Only then, will we have truly "told the story" as the Rabbis envisioned. Long after the karpas is all dipped and the brisket or turkey digested, there is always a need to bring sweetness to the seder. These are recipes that Barbara Slutsky has served at family seders and at Aitz Hayim Pesach services. Each is fully Pesadik when made with Kosher for Passover ingredients, including such delicacies as Pesach marshmallows and vanilla.


Serves 12 1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and coarsely chopped 2 egg whites 2/3 cup sugar 2 teaspoons lemon juice Optional: A few drops of red food coloring to make a richer color. In the bowl of an electric mixer begin to beat the egg whites. After about 30 seconds add the sugar and when it is incorporated add the berries, sprinkled with the lemon juice. After a few minutes add food coloring if desired. Mix on high speed for about 10 minutes. Have a towel handy in case mousse starts splattering. Mousse should fill entire bowl. When it is finished, transfer it to a serving bowl. Top can be decorated with chocolate shavings or fresh berries. Place in freezer until serving time…it will never get frozen solid …and remove just before serving time.

2 cups ground almonds ½ cup sugar 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind 2-3 egg whites (batter shouldn’t be too wet) Chocolate garnish (optional) 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate 1 tablespoon unsweetened margarine Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Combine ground nuts and sugar. Stir in egg whites gradually. Take dough by teaspoonfuls and roll each into a ball. Put on baking sheet, flattening slightly. Bake until tops of the cookies seem dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. If desired, melt chocolate with margarine until smooth (I use microwave). Dip one end of macaroon in chocolate and set on wax paper to set. Refrigerate.

1 cup matzah farfel 1 12-15 oz. package of chocolate chips, melted

Yield: about 4 dozen small clusters 1 ½ cups chopped pecans 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the farfel and nuts until golden and fragrant. Mix together first 3 ingredients. While chocolate is still warm (but not hot) fold in marshmallows. Make clusters from about 1 teaspoon batter. Drop on cookie sheet (lined with waxed paper). Refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour). Store in zip lock bags in refrigerator or freezer. 15

A Clue for Seder Leaders: Karpas and Quinoa
No matter what creative ideas you have for engaging your diverse guests in the Seder, nothing can stand up against one or two hungry people demanding, “Let’s eat!” If they are sophisticated they will add, “Why are we enslaved by this Seder?” Soon you are no longer reenacting the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, you become a weary Moses trying to subdue your rebellious stiff-necked flock. Even if you devise games worthy of the game network, your Haggadah is colorful and personal, your questions profound and relevant, and you present the plagues with special effects worthy of Spielberg, you will remain defeated and on the defensive. The solution is not through the mind, the heart, or even the spirit. It is through Karpas, the dipped “fruit of the earth,” which is served at the beginning of the Seder. To serve a swig of parsley as the appetizer is a call to rebellion. It is a cruel tease. It is a challenge to the insight of Franz Rosensweig that a recipe should be as important as a text. Poor, simple, primitive Galitzianer Jews understood this when they served a boiled potato. It wasn’t much, but it was filling. Hosts at weddings and B’nai Mitzvah understand this when they make certain that the appetizers are at least a whole meal. Yet this was lost in planning the Seder. Give them something to eat and you will be guaranteed a better Seder. Be true to the old Roman custom of dipping appetizers. But make it worth dipping. Consider: Artichokes in margarine Latkes in apple sauce Gefilte fish in horseradish Chips in ketchup Hard boiled egg in salt water Carrots and celery in dressing Meatballs in sauce

The traditional blessing for the vegetables is: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam Borei pree haadama. Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the earth. The blessing for all other foods is: Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, she-hakol neeheeye beed’varo. Blessed are you. Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates everything by the power of the divine word.


Even at the first seder, your Israelites are already kvetching about the missing pasta or other carbs they know they should always avoid. The pressure is on. Do you go Sephardic and add rice or do you stick with potato starch noodles or kugel? Next to manna, quinoa is a gift that creates new opportunities for freedom and plenty. It is the perfect gluten free Passover grain. It dates back to the Incas in Peru 5000 years ago. There it is known as the “Mother Grain.” It is high in protein and adaptable in many ways for salads, pilafs, and stuffing. Here are two tasty recipes:

Quinoa Salad
quinoa, 2 cups water, 4 cups ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ¼ teaspoon

Serves 8-10
cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon

Bring the above ingredients to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until all water is absorbed (about 12 minutes). When done, the grain appears soft and translucent. Toss with a fork to separate the grains. Add about 1 cup diced dried fruit (dates, apricots, for ex.), mix and cool to room temperature. Add about 3 cups chopped raw vegetables (for example, carrots, green onion, celery, blanched asparagus, blanched broccoli). dress with: fresh lemon juice, 2-3 tablespoons salt, ½ teaspoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons

Combine and refrigerate overnight. Add salt if necessary. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with: toasted slivered almonds, ½ cup chopped parsley, ½ cup

Quinoa with Thai Flavors
(adapted from "Passover by Design" by Susie Fishbein)
2 cups dry quinoa 4 cups water 1/4 - 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (or I sprinkle with a few pinches of cayenne powder, instead) 1/3 cup minced red onion 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced 3 tablespoons olive oil 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

about 8-10 servings

Place quinoa in a pot and add water. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed (about 12 minutes). Toss with a fork to separate grains. In a serving bowl, combine jalapeno, onion, mango, oil salt and lime juice. Stir to combine. Add quinoa and toss. Season to taste if necessary. Just before serving, add basil and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature. 17

We all know that the orange on the Seder plate has become a metaphor for the feminine voice so often absent in the Jewish legacy. But that is only the beginning of enhancing the Passover story by including the pivotal role of women. In our retelling of the story, we can acknowledge Miriam, the heroic midwives Shifra and Puah, and Pharaoh’s daughter. We can give voice to women touched by God and inspired to act.

By placing a Miriam’s Cup beside the Cup of Elijah, we remember the importance of Miriam’s well, the source of water that sustained and healed the Israelites as we moved through the desert. Miriam’s Cup is a symbol of acknowledging our needs, including our need and desire for sustenance. After the first blessing over the wine, we say a blessing over the Kos Miryam. All who are gathered pour water from his or her own water glass into the Miriam’s Cup. Each person, thereby, brings his or her unique qualities to the Seder to act with inclusiveness and collectivity. Then we are prepared to evoke the healing powers of Miriam’s well. This indeed might be the most appropriate time to offer a mishaberach prayer for healing. This text might well serve as the blessing over the Kos Miryam: “Let us remember that we are still on the journey. Just as the Holy One delivered Miriam and her people, just as they were sustained in the desert and transformed into a new people, so may we be delivered, sustained, and transformed on our journey to a stronger sense of ourselves, both as individuals and as one people.”

Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project of the Jewish Community Center on the Upper West Side of Manhattan created a new Seder with a new Haggadah in 1994. Now they have 1,500 participants every year. This is their alternative to the Four Sons. The daughter in search of a usable past. Ma hi omeret? What does she say? “Why didn’t the Torah count women among the 600,000 men on foot, aside from children, who came out of Egypt? And why did Moses say at Sinai, ‘Go not near a woman, addressing only men, as if preparation for Revelation was not meant for us, as well?” Because she already understands Jewish memory is essential to our identity, teach her that history is made by those who tell the tale. If Torah did not name and number women, it is up to her to fill the empty spaces of our holy texts. And the daughter who wants to erase her difference. Ma hi omeret? What does she say? “Why must you keep pushing your women’s question into every text? And why are these women’s issues so important to you?” “To you,” and not “to me.” Since she so easily forgets the struggles of her mother and sisters, you must tell her the story of your own journey to the seder table 18

and invite her to join you in thanking God for the blessing of being a Jewish woman. And the daughter who does not know that she has a place at the table. Ma hi omeret? What does she say? “What is this?” Because she doesn’t realize that her question is, in itself, a part of the seder tradition, teach her that the Haggadah is an extended conversation about liberation, and tell her that her insights and questions are also text.

And the daughter who asks no questions? You must say to her, “Your questions, when they come, will liberate you from Egypt. This is how it is and has always been with your mother and grandmothers. From the moment Yocheved, Miriam and the midwives questioned Pharaoh’s edict until today, every question we ask helps us leave Egypt farther behind.”

A Time for Social Justice
Let all who are hungry come and eat. All who are in need, let them come and celebrate Pesach. Now we are here. Next year in the Land of Israel. Now we are enslaved. Next year we will be free. These are the words that begin the Seder. Clearly it is a little late to invite guests. Clearly it is a statement that defines the meta-purpose of celebrating Pesach—to remember and continue our journey from slavery to freedom and to bring all Israel and all humanity with us. Inherent in celebrating Pesach is a commitment to creating a better and more beautiful world. Consider these mitzvot. Act on them when you rise up and when you lie down. Teach them diligently to your children. Support the B’nai Mitzvah twinning program at Neve Hanna in Kiryat Gat. This is our direct link to helping disadvantaged Israeli children to become full members of society. Let all who are fed at your Seder send help to these kids who are hungry. Send contributions to: Neve Hanna Children’s Home, c/o the Aitz Hayim office. Change the incandescent light bulbs in your home to low energy fluorescents. Maintain proper tire pressure to your vehicles. If we all participate, it will significantly lessen global warming. Support the Jewish people through Jewish United Fund Join us at Aitz Hayim’s JUF Shabbat, Friday evening, May 15th with author and frequent Oprah guest Joshua Halberstam

Participate with your colleagues at the JUF Trades, Industries and Professions Dinners listed on the following page. Details are at or call 312.444.2835. 19

May 13 at 5:30 PM, Foods & Hospitality, High Tech, Wholesalers, Retailers & Manufacturers Westin Chicago – North Shore, 601 N. Milwaukee Ave., Wheeling Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben &Jerry’s Ice Cream May 19 at 5:30 PM, Dental, Educators, Physicians & Surgeons, Professional Health Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 East Wacker Drive Jeffrey Goldberg & David Gregory

May 27 at 5:30 PM, Financial Services, Marketing & Media, Real Estate & Building Trades Sheraton Chicago, 301 E. North Water St. Professor Alan Dershowitz June 3 at 5:30 PM, Government Agencies, Non-Profit, Lawyers Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Ave. Michael Chertoff

Nothing is more important than realizing that the needs of the Jewish people are more varied and widespread than any of us could imagine. With one contribution, you feed the hungry, educate the children, resettle the refugees, provide respite care for the disabled, and send our college students to Israel. With one contribution your help is ongoing in Chicago, Israel, the former Soviet Union, and South America. Check out the American Jewish World Service website ( and understand the latest in the genocide in Darfur. Write your representative and senator and send a contribution to provide humanitarian relief in the name of the Jewish people. Call the TOV hotline 312-357-4762 to participate in one of the many Spring Mitzvah Mania projects. They include opportunities at the Uptown Café, Catholic Charities, Council for Jewish Elderly, Greater Chicago Food Depository, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Luggage for Freedom, and Lambs Farm. The complete list is on the website:

Pesach is only the beginning
Yom HaShoah, Tuesday, April 21 Israel Solidarity Day/Walk with Israel, Sunday, May 3

The Cortesi Family of Sunset Foods makes Pesach and all shopping special as they pour out their love with service, support, and delicious Pesach products.

The Haggadah all too often to most people, including Seder leaders, looks like a series of pages with random blessings and paragraphs. This grid, which is drawn from the work of Ron Wolfson, Joel Grishaver, and Noam Zion, helps organize the Haggadah and the Seder experience. The entire Seder is in four parts: an introduction to holy time and Pesach in particular, four tellings of the story, each with an introductory question, a historic or educational explanation, and praise to God reflecting that the liberation from slavery in Egypt was a gift, the meal and the surrounding rituals, and the messianic hope and expectation, in the after-dinner part. This includes the Birkat Hamazon, Elijah’s cup, our hope that there will be no longer any evil directed against us, and in the Hartman Haggadah an appreciation of the righteous in the nations among us, and songs of praise and hope, particularly Had Gadya, which is the ultimate overturning of death.Your Seder will be more meaningful and you will be a better leader and participant by using this grid to understand your Haggadah and by approaching the Seder as a meaningfully structured participatory drama. It can guide you in figuring out how to introduce the personal with individual stories of the struggle for freedom and hopes for the future. By using this guide in following whatever Haggadah you use, you will no longer be enslaved to read page after page of the Haggadah, but free to live the Exodus in our generation.
THE THEME INTRODUCTION THE STEP CANDLE LIGHTING (beginning holy time) BLESSING THE CHILDREN KIDDUSH CUP OF MIRIAM URHATZ-Washing hands- a Temple reminder and provocative ritual KARPAS -Dipping Appetizers like the affluent Romans. No longer will people be preoccupied with the sole question, “When do we eat?” YAHATZ —Breaking the matzah and hiding the afikoman TRANSITION THE STORY LET ALL WHO ARE HUNGRY—The multiple levels of Seder needs FOUR VERSIONS AND APPROACHES—Each of the four tellings in the Haggadah has the same form--question, answer, praise to God Question—The 4 Questions—a classic way of asking what’s happening Answer—We were slaves— The history from the Book of Joshua Praise—Bless God SECOND TELLING Question—The 4 Children—The different types of people at the seder Answer—We were idol worshipers—Our humble beginnings, preAbraham Praise—The promise has stood PAGE #



THE STEP Question—Come and learn Answer—My father was a wandering Aramean to the 10 plagues Classic text from Deuteronomy 26:1-10 This section is not to be a script but a stimulus to discussion. Praise—Dayenu



Questions—Pesach, Matzah, Maror, & Jaffa Orange Answer—Explanation of symbols & In every generation this is our experience Praise—Hallel of praise


The second cup of wine RACHTZA —Hand washing as at any meal MOTZI MATZAH —Eating the matzah MAROR —Eating the bitter herbs and Hillel sandwich JAFFA ORANGE —Including women and Israel (Blessing; Borei prei ha-aitz)

SEDER MEAL AFIKOMAN BIRKAT HAMAZON—The blessing for the food, the land, Jerusalem, and goodness TRANSITION TO THE FUTURE The third cup of wine MESSIANIC HOPE—ELIJAH—Visions of the ideal, personal, communal, and universal

Overcoming our fears—Pour out your wrath Our hopes for the world—Pour out your love HALLEL TRANSITION CONTINUING ON The fourth cup of wine COUNTING THE OMER—To mark the path to the covenant at Sinai HAD GADYA—Beyond death in the messianic time CONCLUSION—Next Year in Jerusalem