For PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc)., Ritualwell Connects Innovation with Tradition
March 8, 2012
Contact: Bonnie McEwan
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Philadelphia, PA – This year Passover begins on the evening of April 6. It is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday in North America and an occasion when many struggle to honor ancient tradition while recognizing the new realities of contemporary life. Ritualwell.org, which offers innovative rituals that add meaning to Passover celebrations, is the perfect resource.
Passover’s themes of slavery and liberation resonate deeply with people from all cultures and religious traditions. Increasingly, the holiday is marked with extended family, friends and colleagues who share a culture that calls for a more inclusive Passover ceremony, or sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees.—one that acknowledges feminist contributions and other innovations.
Ritualwell.org includes a robust Passover section, which offers additional songs, poems and readings as well as interesting perspectives on the traditional seder. One example is the inclusion of the prophetess MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance., who plays a central role in the Exodus story. Ritualwell.org features Miriam’s cup—honoring the healing well of water associated with Miriam—and the song “Miriam haNeviah”—placing her as a prophetess alongside the prophet ElijahElijah is a biblical prophet who is said never to have died. There are therefore many legends associated with Elijah. In the Talmud, unresolved arguments will be resolved when Elijah comes. He will herald the coming of the messiah. In Jewish ritual, Elijah is a liminal figure, arriving at moments of danger and transition – at a brit milah, a chair is put out for him, a cup is poured for Elijah at the Passover seder, and he is invoked at havdalah. His Hebrew name is Eliyahu..
“Seder tables around the world feature new interpretations and practices that give life to the compelling themes of this powerful holiday,” said Rabbi Roni Handler, editor of Ritualwell.org. “The site offers a rich palate of creative readings to enliven the ancient text of the haggadahLit. "Telling.” The haggadah is the book used at the seder table on Passover to tell the story of the Exodus, the central commandment of the holiday. It is rich in song, prayer, and legend. There are many different version of the Haggadah produced throughout Jewish history.. Miriam’s cup joins Elijah’s on our seder tables, reminding us of the importance of women’s leadership and initiative.”
An anonymous site contributor agreed. “It’s important to build upon Jewish tradition so that people today recognize the Passover themes operating in our own lives. I want this for myself, and I want it especially for my children.”
Ritualwell.org is more than an information site. It is a community of seekers who wish to explore innovative ways to honor important milestones in their lives. Handler describes the group as “curious, engaged and committed to innovation that is grounded in tradition. We honor our shared past, and we recognize its relevance for today and for the future,” she said.
Ritualwell is supported by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In addition to the website, Ritualwell.org maintains an active Facebook page and a Twitter account (@Ritualwell) to help ensure broad access to its materials. Visitors to the site can watch videos, register for email updates, download a ritual or build their own to share with the online community.
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