Passover 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). is the most widely celebrated Jewish holiday in North America. What makes Passover appealing to so many of us? Is it the fact that Passover is a home-based holiday, which offers an opportunity for family and friends to gather around the Lit. 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. table, recalling past memories and creating new ones? Or is it that the core themes of slavery and liberation still resonate so deeply within us that we want to retell the story of Passover again and again each year? From our elaborate holiday preparations through the seder rituals and beyond, the timeless Jewish traditions of Passover have been transformed and enhanced by feminist contributions to Jewish ritual. Seder tables around the world feature new interpretations and practices that give life to the ancient, resonant themes of this powerful holiday. A rich palate of creative readings enlivens the ancient text of the Lit. “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.. The orange on the seder plate, once solely a symbol of gay and lesbian liberation, is now often used to highlight the role of women in Jewish life as well. Miriam’s cup joins Elijah’s on our seder tables, reminding us of the importance of women’s leadership and initiative, of the power of song and dance, and of the living waters that—in Miriam’s honor—sustained us in our desert wanderings.
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