AARC Shavuot 2018: Belonging, Behaving, Believing

“In 1934 Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, wrote his classic text Judaism As Civilization. Kaplan taught that there are three ways of identifying with a religious community: by believing, by behaving, and by belonging…And it’s true that no matter what Jews believe, and no matter how Jews behave, there is an underlying, fundamental and intrinsic interconnection that ties us together in a common history and present reality.”

–Rabbi Joe Klein

Celebrate Shavuot with a Night of Learning

Saturday May 19, 7-10 pm at the JCC

Choose from 4 study sessions taught by AARC community members

Eat cheesecake and other dairy sweets

Bring a box of grain to donate to Food Gatherers

Close the evening with Havdallah

7:00 PM:  Gather

7:15-8:15:  Jonas Higbee: “Building a Community Response to Fascism: Lessons from Richard Spencer’s Visit to MSU” (‘Behaving’)

7:15-8:15:  Clare Kinberg: “Shavuot4BlackLives: Jewish Views on Reparations” (‘Behaving’)

8:15-8:30:  Cheesecake Break

8:30-9:30:  Etta King Heisler: “Belonging in America:  What is Belonging and How Does it Broaden, Limit, Deepen, or Otherwise Define Our Community?” (‘Belonging’)

8:30-9:30:  Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner:  “A Long and ‘Twisted’ Relationship: Us, God, and…Challah?” (‘Believing’)

9:30-10:00:  Havdallah

Misheberakh for the State and People of Israel: Rabbi Ascherman visits Ann Arbor

 By Martha Kransdorf

In the first week of May, Israeli-American human rights activist Rabbi Arik Ascherman returned to Ann Arbor on a speaking and fundraising tour. My co-pilot, Harvey Somers, and I were the anchor people for his visit here. We’d like to first of all thank AARC for their support and to thank all of the co-sponsors for the May 2 JCC Fundraising Dinner and Community Forum: Beth Israel’s Social Action Committee, Jewish Cultural Society, Pardes Hannah, & Temple Beth Emeth. In addition to Rabbi Ora, rabbis from each of the other congregations were present, and took part in the evening’s program.

Rabbi Ascherman was the head of Rabbis for Human Rights for 21 years, and last fall he founded a new organization, Torat Tzedek, Torah of Justice. At the Community Forum, he described some of the current issues that he is working on, and the list is long and quite moving. His work ranges from meeting with lawyers and interviewing people who have been threatened by settlers, to lobbying at the Knesset on behalf of poor Israelis, to helping Arab shepherds hold onto their flocks when settlers frighten them and scare them away. Torat Tzedek has also been involved helping African refugees fight the Israeli government’s efforts to deport them and helping Bedouin communities hold on to their way of life.

Rabbi Ascherman’s courage and commitment have not wavered. He won’t throw in the towel. He admits that he is somewhat less optimistic than he has been in the past, but his response is to roll up his sleeves and work harder. He urges us, similarly, to react with urgency by becoming more active.

In addition to speaking at the JCC, Rabbi Ascherman spoke at Shir Tikvah in Troy, and he led text studies at Lunch & Learn programs at TBE and at Kehillat Israel in Lansing. His visit wrapped up with an “Open House” at BIC. A busy week, by any account. We are grateful to our communities in Michigan, which contributed over $4000 to Torat Tzedek. If anyone would like more information on Rabbi Ascherman’s work or on Torat Tzedek, please feel free to get in touch with either of us.

Martha Kransdorf ,  mkransdo@umich.edu    734-663-7933

Harvey Somers,  harveysomers@gmail.com   734-780-6907

Rabbi Ascherman blogs regularly in The Times of Israel. On April 19 2018 he included this “Misheberakh — A Loving Prayer of Healing for the State and People of Israel

The Hebrew is followed by a transliteration, and then a translation.

מי שברך קדמונינו אברהם ושרה, יצחק ורבקה, יעקב לאה ורחל, הוא יברך וירפא את החולים, מדינת ישראל ועם ישראל. הקדוש ברוך הוא ימלא רחמים עלינו להחלימנו ולרפואתנו מכל מחלה המקשה עלינו להגשים את הטוב ואת השאיפות לצדק שבליבנו – ביניהן: העיוורון לנוכחותך בכל אדם והעיוורון למציאות; החירשות לקול הדממה הדקה בתוך רעש הפחד וההפחדה, קולות הענות והמלחמה במחנה; והפקודות; האטימות לסבל של האחר/ת;  הרשימו שנשאר מכל מה שסבלנו אנו, השיכרון מכוח ומשלטון; השנאה לחושב/ת אחרת מאתנו; והאהבה היתרה לארץ ישראל ולמדינת ישראל ולעם ישראל ולכל דבר קדוש המסנוור אותנו לקדושתך ולרצונך. אנא, החזק בנו את היצר הטוב והחיות את אמונתנו בעולם מתוקן במלכותך וביכולתנו לקרבו.  שלח לנו במהרה רפואה שלמה, רפואת הנפש ורפואת הגוף, בתוך שאר החולים/ות, השתא בעגלא ובזמן קרים, ונאמר אמן.

Mi sh’beirakh kadmoneinu Avraham v’Sarah, Yitzhak v’Rivkah, Ya’akov, Leah v’Rakhek, hu yivarekh v’yirapeih et ha’kholim, Medinat Yisrael v’Am Yisrael. HaKadosh Borukh Hu yimaleh rakhamim aleinu  l’hakhlamatanu v’l’rfuatanu mi’kol makhalah ha’makshah aleinu l’hagshim et ha’tov v’et ha’sheifah la’tzedek sh’b’libeinu-beiniehen: ha’ivaraon l’nokhakhutkha b’kholadam v’ha’ivaron l’mitziut; ha’khershut l’kol ha’demamah ha’dakah b’tokh ra’ash ha’pakhad v’ha’hafkhadah, kolot ha’onot v’kolot ha’milkhamah b’makhaneh v’hapekudot;   ha’atimut l’sevel shelha’akher/et; ha’rashimu sh’nishar mi’kol mah sh’avalnu anu; ha’shikaron mi’koakh u’mi’shilton; ha’sinah l’khoshev’et akheret m’itanu; v’ha’ahavah ha’yiterah l’Eretz Yisrael v’l’Medinat Yisrael, v’l’Am Yisrael, v’lkhol d’var kadosh ha’misanveir otanu l’kedushatkhah v’l’ratzonkhah. Anah, he’khezeik banu  et ha’yetzer ha’tov v’ha’khayot et emunateinu b’olam mitukan b’malkhutkha u’v’yekholteinu l’karvo.  Shlakh lanu b’meheirah refuah shleimah, refuat ha’nefesh v’refuat ha’guf, b’tokh sh’ar he’kholim, hashta b’agalah’ u’v’zman Kariv, v’nomar amein.

May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, bless and heal the ill:  the State and People of Israel.  May the Holy One of Blessing be full of mercy and us to heal us from every illness that keeps us from fulfilling the good and the aspiration for justice that is within us – Among them: Blindness to Your Presence in every human being and blindness to reality; deafness to the Still Small Voice within the thundering fear and fearmongering, the sounds of war and singing in the camp,  and orders; hatred of those who think differently than us, disproportional love for the Land of Israel, the State of Israel, the People of Israel and every holy thing that blinds us to Your Holiness and Your Will.  Please strengthen within us our good inclination and revive our faith in the possibility of a repaired world under Your Sovereignty and our ability to bring that world closer to reality. Send us complete and speedy healing of body and soul, along with all who are ill, speedily and in our day.  And let us say, Amen.

 

Our Measure of Grain

“Memorial Tablet and Omer Calendar” by Baruch Zvi Ring, 1904. Paper cut, pencil, ink and paint. Owned by the Jewish Museum in NYC. Baruch Zvi Ring (Ringiansky) came to Rochester from Vishya, Lithuania, in 1902. Please visit this artwork on the Jewish Museum website to learn more about the incredible intricacies in this work.

Our Beit Sefer, led by our Yeledim class (Bass, Ben, Ellie, Isaac, Joey, Miles, Molly, and their teacher, Shlomit) is collecting boxes of grains (pasta, cereal, rice, etc) to make a collective donation to Food Gatherers. We started collecting right after Passover and we will continue through Shavuot. By collecting donations for the Food Gatherers, the Yeledim are learning to connect the Jewish holiday cycle with a need in our community.

We are commanded by the Torah to bring, on the second day of Passover, a measure—an omer—of the first cutting of our barley harvest to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to G‑d, and not to partake of that year’s grain crop until that offering is made. We then count 49 days, and on the 50th day, which is Shavuot, we bring the first of our wheat harvest as an offering to G‑d, and we do not use of the year’s wheat crop for Temple offerings until this is done. Hence, the 49-day count leading from Passover to Shavuot is called “the Counting of the Omer”—a reference to the omer of barley that was brought on the first day of the count.
(from “Grain, Growth and Goodness” by R. Shlomo Yaffe)

The Yeledim have set a goal of collecting as least 49 boxes of grain, one for each day of the Omer. And you can help! We will be collecting this Saturday, May 12th at the JCC during Second Saturday Shabbat morning services, and also at our congregational observance of Shavuot on Saturday May 19th.

Nice things

There has been a lot of overwhelmingly bad news lately. But nice things happen all the time, too. This blog post is to connect us to a few of the nice things that happen in our congregants’ lives.

Brayan 3rd from left, Max on the right. Congrats!

Building Award
Two AARC members, Max Resnick and Brayan Zivan competed in the SkillsUSA Michigan State Leadership Conference. Max Resnick came home with the State Championship.

 

Award and Book

Sara Ahbel-Rappe recently received a Diversity Service Award at UM, an award which recognizes faculty who contribute to equality and diversity at the university. And her book, Socratic Ignorance and Platonic Knowledge in the Dialogues of Plato, was recently published in the SUNY Press series in Western Esoteric Traditions.

Dinner with old friends

The Carol and Matt Ullmann family had dinner with some old family friends they haven’t seen in a while. It was wonderful to spend time together.

 

Endorsement

At the Michigan Democratic Party’s Endorsement Convention, held on April 15 at Cobo Hall, a historic turnout of 6,700 delegates voted to endorse Samuel Bagenstos for the Michigan Supreme Court.  The turnout was fueled by a surge of over 3,000 new members of the Democratic Party.

 

 

Quoted in the Press

Andy Kirschner talks musicals in FMT News article, “Musical resurgence has Hollywood changing its tune.”

New Company
Jeff Basch started his new company, Trove Analytics. They are commercializing a technology developed at U-M that uses algorithms to analyze an existing electrocardiogram (EKG) signal to predict a patients trajectory. The algorithm informs nurses and doctors so they can prioritize patients that are most at risk of death and take action to save their lives 7 to 30 hours before the visible onset of the deterioration.

 

 

Levi Kopald Bar Mitzvah drash: Sh’mini

Shabbat shalom. My parsha, or Torah portion, is Sh’mini, which is in the book of Leviticus. Most of Sh’mini is about dietary laws which is what you can and cannot eat in Jewish law. Some things you cannot eat are animals that do not have true hooves or do not chew their cud. Also, you may not eat birds of prey, and most insects and shellfish.

But what I think is the most interesting part of my parsha is the story of Nadav and Avihu. Two sons of Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, put fire and incense in a fire-pan, and then offered to God some sort of unholy, bad, or alien fire. And then for some reason God killed them; fire shot out and they died! Then Moses said to Aaron: “This is what God meant when God said: ‘This is how I will make myself holy – through those near to me I will show myself to be holy.’” And Aaron remained silent.

I had a lot of questions about what happened to Nadav and Avihu. Why did Nadav and Avihu make this offering in the first place? What made the fire they offered unholy? When God said “This is how I will make myself holy” – how did God killing Nadav and Avihu make God holier?

Many commentators have had similar questions about what happened. One explanation for what happened to Nadav and Avihu is that they were being punished because they were drunk.

Rashi, born in Northern France in 1040 and one of the most widely read commentators of the Torah, quotes an ancient rabbi named Rabbi Ishmael, who said: “[They died because] they had entered the sanctuary after having drunk wine. The proof is that after their death, God told Aaron and his remaining sons that they may not enter the sanctuary after having drunk wine. . . .”

Rashi offers another possible reason for why Nadav and Avihu were put to death: they were  punished because they were being disrespectful. In fact, Rashi mentions two ways that Nadav and Avihu could have been disrespectful. Rashi quotes another ancient rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, who said: “Aaron’s sons died only because they rendered halachic decisions in the presence of Moses, their teacher.” In other words, Nadav and Avihu decided for themselves what the law meant.  They were being disrespectful to Moses, and therefore they were punished by God.

A second possibility comes from a midrash that says the Israelites were journeying through the desert with Moses and Aaron at the front, and all of Israel came after them. As they traveled along, Nadav said to Avihu, ‘Shortly, these two old men will die and we will lead the congregation.’ The way that they refer to Moses and Aaron, as old men – it could be realistic, saying that they’re going to die soon because it’s true, but it’s also very  disrespectful, and they clearly wanted power for themselves. On a deeper level, Nadav and Avihu were doubting Moses and Aaron’s abilities to teach them anymore, or to lead the nation.

So far, I’ve looked at the deaths of Nadav and Avihu as a punishment from God, either because they were drunk or because they were being disrespectful. But another, very different interpretation of what happened is that Nadav and Avihu just wanted to be close to God. What do I mean by this? Back in the book of Exodus, there’s a story of Moses, Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu going part of the way up Mt. Sinai to prostrate themselves before God. Quoting from Exodus Chapter 24, it says: “Moses and Aaron, Nadav and Avihu, and the seventy elders arose. They saw the God Of Israel and beneath God’s feet, a brickwork of sapphire … They viewed the Lord, they ate and drank.”

What’s happening here?  Nadav and Avihu went up Mount Sinai, and saw God! What was this experience like for them? It was probably incredible – and pretty unimaginable. So maybe they had such a transcendent experience that they wanted to repeat it, and that’s why they ran to bring God a fire-offering, not thinking about or even caring about what might happen to them. Or, maybe they just made a mistake based on this past experience. Maybe they assumed that because they’d gone partway up Mount Sinai in the past, with Moses, to see God, they would also be able to offer sacrifices however they wanted in the future – because they were so dear to God.

Up until now, we’ve looked at Nadav and Avihu’s actions and motivations. But what about God’s?

If we look back at Leviticus chapter 10, verse 3, it says: “Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what God spoke, [when God said], ‘I will be sanctified through those near to Me, and before all the people I will be glorified.’”

Some commentators have suggested that this verse is related to what happened to Nadav and Avihu. What could this mean, that in killing Nadav and Avihu, God was glorified? Perhaps God wanted the people of Israel to see God again, because God had already been seen at Mount Sinai. So God demonstrated God’s glory to the Israelites by consuming Nadav and Avihu.  In other words, God wanted an audience. And I can relate to this – for example, I want people I’m close to to see me at my basketball games or baseball games–it’s understandable to want to be seen, especially when you’re good at something.

In this interpretation, God acts without caring about Nadav and Avihu. But there’s also another possible interpretation: that  God actually helped Nadav and Avihu by killing them.  In this interpretation, their death is not a punishment, but actually a reward from God–a way of being one with God, which they desperately wanted. It’s even possible that the strange fire they offered was such a wonderful, spontaneous offering that God instinctively drew them in and consumed them.

This interpretation is supported by a passage from  Torat Kohanim, which says that when Nadav and Avihu died, “Two thread-like [sparks] of fire entered their nostrils thereby destroying their souls along with all their internal organs, but leaving their external body structures intact.” It’s possible that this is proof that their being consumed by fire was a favor or blessing from God because their souls simply joined God and their bodies were left unharmed.

So. What kind of God is this? How does this relate to our lives?

The first time you hear this story, you might think Aaron’s sons died for no reason. Yet after many weeks of study and comparing the commentators’ interpretations, I think this story teaches us that there’s more than one way to be close to God. Everyone doesn’t have to have the same practices. However, the repercussions of trying to get close to God can be very dangerous.

Another possible moral of this story is that it’s hard to get close to God. It takes a lot of work, and we don’t necessarily know how to do it. There’s a lot of mystery there–not knowing what will happen. But above all, it’s important to be respectful–not just respectful to God, but also respectful to those around you, because they are extensions of God.

We don’t actually know what God is like, or what will happen when we try to get close to what is holy. This is all a mystery. However, what we’re left with is something that’s less mysterious, but almost as challenging: We know that what we can do to be close to God is to be respectful of other people.

With this in mind, Rabbi Ora asked me to come up with a new set of Ten Commandments on how to be respectful, and I’m going to teach them to you now: 

  1. Don’t say hateful things – don’t swear, don’t say hurtful things, don’t be mean, don’t insult people.
  2. Don’t talk bad about people behind their backs. In Hebrew, the phrase for this is lashon hara.
  3. Give compliments to people – truthful ones, in order to make them feel good. In order to do this, first you have to think about the person and think about their positive qualities. Like my sister Ahava – she helps with my math homework, and then I thanked her for it.
  4. Say thank you to people. Showing manners is important by thanking people, and showing gratitude and appreciation for people.
  5. Show respect to parents, teachers, principals, rabbis, adults in position of authority – to people who can teach you things. Listen to instruction. Don’t argue with someone in authority.
  6. Greet people – show people that you care that they’re there. I could do that here at services – saying hello to a new kid, a new family.
  7. Listen – honor when someone else is speaking and don’t interrupt.
  8. Always keep promises that you make.
  9. Be respectful of places – of other people’s property, and don’t litter.Take care of nature, don’t pollute.
  10. Show that you care about people through your actions – let them know you’re thinking about their feelings.

In conclusion, I have learned many things throughout this process like the many ways to respect other people and God. But I have also learned what is disrespectful. Most of the things I have learned from reading my torah portion is from Nadav and Avihu. What do you think about Nadav and Avihu? Do you think it is just as simple as God killed them because they were drunk or do you think there is some higher meaning involved such as that God did Nadav and Avihu a favor?  What do you think?

Finally, I would like to thank my mom and dad for helping me in the entire process with making sure I practiced, taking me to different appointments, my dad helping me write this speech and  my mom planning the party and helping me study my Torah portion. Also, I would like to thank my Zede Newman for helping me embrace Jewish culture and become my Jewish self. I would also like to thank my Bubbe for teaching me about Judaism and about life in general. I would also like to thank my sisters Ahava and Clara for helping me study my Torah portion and helping me throughout this entire process. I would also like to thank Scott for helping make sure I practiced and also taking me to appointments. I would also like to thank Kathy for making my invitations and decorating the baseballs for my party. I would also like to thank Deb Kraus for helping me learn my Torah portion my haftorah and how this whole service is run. I would like to thank Rabbi Ora for helping me write this speech and teaching me about my torah portion and more about Judaism. Last but not least I would like to thank this whole congregation for supporting me throughout this entire process. Shabbat shalom.

Next Year, Together

At Mimouna this year, we had a serious discussion after Shulchan Orekh/Dinner feast that began with Rabbi Ora making a connection to the afikoman and asking us questions about our relationships with our neighbors:

The word afikoman can be broken up into two Aramaic words, אפיקו מן, meaning “bring out sustenance.” According to the mystical text Sefer HaSichot, eating the afikoman draws down God’s infinite bounty into the framework of our material world.

In light of our many blessings, and the blessings of being in relationship, let’s answer these questions together:

  1. What relationships do we (individually and collectively) already have with local Muslim communities?
  2. In the coming year, what new relationships might be established?
  3. What could AARC’s Mimouna celebration look like next year?

We talked about ways we individually and as a Jewish congregation could grow our relationships with other vulnerable and targeted communities. As a beginning, here are some upcoming activities that were mentioned:

 

This Sunday, April 15, 3-7pm, Open House at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor, sponsored by the Muslim Association of Ann Arbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday and Saturday April 20 and 21st, Temple Beth Emeth Social Action Committee is hosting Jan Harboe, author of Train to Crystal City, a book about the secret American internment camp and incarceration of U.S. citizens of German and Japanese descent during WWII.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 25, the film And Then They Came for Us about the Japanese interment during WWII, at UM-Rackham Amphitheatre, 915 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor.

Sign up to be a member of the Ann Arbor Jewish Sanctuary Ann Arbor Jewish Sanctuary and Immigration Committee by going to this website, We Were Strangers, MI. 

 

Here is a really good article from the Detroit Jewish News, “Detainee Defenders,”  about the work to defend several hundred Iraqi who have been detained with deportation orders.

Mimouna 2018 in Full Color

What is Mimouna, and where does it come from?

Urchatz: Acknowledge the Source
Cultural appropriation is defined as “the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture.”

The holiday is traced back to medieval Morocco and the Jewish community’s Passover observance. Because the Jews could not keep chametz in their homes during the Passover holiday, it was customary to give all their flour, yeast and grain to their Muslim neighbors. On the afternoon of the last day of Passover, these neighbors would bring to the homes of their Jewish neighbors gifts of flour, honey, milk, butter and green beans to be used to prepare post-Passover chametz dishes. That evening, Jews would throw open their homes to visitors, setting out a lavish spread of traditional holiday cakes, candies, and sweetmeats.

Motzi ‘Matza’: Lift up Goodness
What is on the Mimouna ‘seder plate’? What could each object represent?
Question for your neighbor:
What would you add to the seder plate to symbolize the blessings of your life, in this moment?

Rochtza: Awash in Blessing One Mimouna custom: To dip a mint leaf in milk and wipe it across a loved one’s forehead. The accompanying blessing (in Judeo-Moroccan)? ‘Tirbehu u’tisaudu!’ – ‘May you increase (in blessing) and be satisfied!’

Maggid: Tell the Story
What are possible origins of the name ‘Mimouna’?
Mimouna may be derived from the Arabic word for good fortune (literally “protected by God,” ma’amoun). Since the end of Passover marks the beginning of the new agricultural year in North Africa, Mimouna is thought to be the ideal time to pray for a year of bounty and plentiful crops.

Shulchan Orekh:

Feasting!

Meanwhile, the kids prepared to lead us through the water. On the final day of Passover, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea.

[All words from the Mimouna “haggadah” prepared by Rabbi Ora. Photos by Marcy, Dave and Clare]

Preparing for Mimouna

Rabbi Myron Kinberg blessing guests with dates stuffed with butter and anointing them with buttermilk, 1996.

AARC is doing something new this year. We are getting together to learn about and celebrate Mimouna, the hametz-laden Moroccan Jewish end-of-Passover celebration.

Mimouna

Saturday April 7

5:30-7:30

at the JCC.

Because my beloved sister-in-law, Alice Haya Kinberg, grew up in Morocco and taught my family about Mimouna many moons ago, I have known about the special holiday for a long time. But this year, when Rabbi Ora suggested we have a Mimouna “seder” where we as a community learn about Mimouna traditions, I learned a lot more!

Thanks to Carol Lessure, our community has had several Mimouna-inspired pizza parties at the end Passover. Now we have the opportunity to learn more about the traditions of sharing with non-Jewish neighbors, enjoying Moroccan food, and celebrating the blessings of springtime.

In this article, “Ten things you didn’t know about Mimouna,” I learned several surprising ways that Jews and Muslims in Morocco expressed appreciation for each other. “Inside the Mimouna, Passover’s Best Kept and Sweetest Tradition,” I found a picture of the custom of  wiping the forehead with mint leaves dipped in buttermilk which, Alice explained to me, is a blessing for gaining wealth and wisdom and feeling satiated. And in this essay by Alicia Sisso Raz I learned about the Mimouna being brought to South America and the traditional Judeo-Arabic greeting Tirbeḥu Utis’adu (success and good luck), and the Spanish greeting for Mimouna, “A Mimon, a Shalom, a baba Terbaḥ.”

Along with the seder, we will be having a potluck dinner, and we encourage you to bring a dish that includes at least one of the following ingredients common to Mimouna celebrations: milk or buttermilk; wheat flour (try your hand at moufleta); eggs; bean pods; dates and preserves; butter; honey; Zabane (marshmallow sauce); fruits or candied fruit; spring greens; fish; wine.

Einat AdmonyCandied Citrus Peels

Ingredients:

1 large red or pink grapefruit

1 large pomela

2 oranges

1 cup sugar, plus more for tossing

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 pieces star anise

Resources for Passover 2018

A contemporary illustrated haggadah by the Israeli artist Avner Moriah in the Jewish Museum (NY) collection

If every year we used the Haggadah from last year, Dayenu, it would be enough.

But given our creative, ever seeking natures, we also like to embellish the Haggadah (and our seders) each year with something new. The history of adding to the Haggadah with additional readings, illustrations, and songs is explained in this Jewish Virtual Library entry.

At Haggadot.com, you can create your own Haggadah using clips that others have contributed. The site has some great examples of Haggadot that you can use, too!

 

Below are some resources for celebrating Passover this year:

The Hadar Institute, whose mission is to empower Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah, Avodah, and Hesed, is the only full-time, gender-egalitarian yeshiva in North America. Here are Passover resources from Hadar.

Jacob Richman’s (a Jewish librarian colleague) Passover Spotify Playlist (over 100 songs).

From Jews for Justice (Baltimore): A Seder for Migrant Justice

From the 1969 Freedom Seder

The Shalom Center has put together a new “MLK + 50 Interfaith Freedom Seder” commemorating 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated.  And here is a link to the original, 1969 Freedom Seder.

Repair the World and Be’chol Lashon have partnered to create two resources for your Passover Seder: Avadim Hayenu is a one page Haggadah insert and Trivia Place-Cards for your seder table  highlight multi-ethnic and multiracial Jewish Passover traditions from around the world. You can download the insert and the Trivia Place-Cards here.

Just a really nice interview with Marquis Hollie from Reform Judaism, At the Intersection of Passover and Shared Otherness: The Making of “Go Down Moshe

American Jewish World Service has a full Haggadah, an insert about the Rohingya Crisis, “An Exodus in Our Time,” and several different readings all downloadable here.

Refugee Haggadah: This 2017 supplement, created by the refugee resettlement group formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, ties the Jewish refugee experience to that of modern-day refugees.

T’ruah Rabbis for Human Rights is distributing stickers that say “Resisting tyrants since Pharaoh” here.

 

 

AARC Mimouna 2018: Abandon Bitterness, Celebrate Blessing

Photo of Mimouna foods from an article in The Nosher, includes recipes.

This year, AARC will be celebrating Mimouna on Saturday April 7, 5:30-7:30pm at the JCC. We’ll have lots of food, music, and a short ‘seder’ to learn about the symbols and traditions of Mimouna. We will also begin a conversation about things our congregation can do to form relationships with other faith communities in the coming year.

Mimouna, the traditional Moroccan Jewish celebration held the day after Passover, marks the start of spring and the return to eating chametz, i.e., leavened bread and bread by-products, which are forbidden throughout Passover. In centuries past, Muslim neighbors would bring gifts of flour, honey, milk, butter and green beans to their Jewish neighbors to help them prepare delicious, chametz-rich recipes. More recently, Moroccan Jews brought the holiday to Israel where it is now widely celebrated with picnics and visiting with friends and neighbors. Recently, an organization of Moroccan Muslim students was founded which preserves and promotes the history of Morocco’s ancient Jewish community and seeks to educate about Jewish culture to encourage harmony between Jews and Muslims.

“Unlike Passover, which is charged with religious meaning, this is a festival devoted to the celebration of community, friendship, togetherness and hospitality. Mimouna is celebrated by throwing one’s home open to friends, neighbors and even strangers, with public parties, and by sharing – a large portion of that sharing involving food. Mimouna is thus clearly all about encouraging peace, kindness and human warmth. It also centers around making music, singing and dancing,” explains an article in Haaretz which includes a recipe for the traditional crepe, mofleta.

The piyyut (ligurgical poetry) below, “Atem Yotzei Maarav ,”composed by Rabbi David Bouzaglo (1903-1975), to commemorate the Mimouna holiday tells–in Hebrew with some Judeo-Arabic interspersed–the various aspects of the holiday including the foods eaten, the friendly atmosphere, and the significance of the holiday. It tells a story of strife and its resolution, and in conclusion calls for the abandonment of bitterness between Muslims and Jews.

 

Atem Yotzei Maarav

A Moroccan Jewish Piyyut:

You, who come from the Maghreb, from Morocco, men of faith –
praise G-d in assembly, this day of the Mimouna.

Yesterday the Red Sea opened its gaping mouth before Pharaoh,
it moved over all their wagons and swallowed them.

Israel, the flock, his servants crossed through passages,
as the waves of the sea were piled up by the hand of Moses, the faithful father.

The wealth of their enemies and tormentors Israel collected,
between the waves of the sea, they received it as a gift.

On every doorstep, all congratulated each other:
“Be blessed, friend, all the months of the year.”

And in Morocco, for many generations, the Hebrews say,
in blessing their friends, “good luck, brother, good fortune!”

The strangers, their waters were spilled on them;
the fear of G-d, in Heaven poured down on them.

Loads and loads of wealth and grains
were delivered from all comers of the world to the people G-d has chosen.

And it is the way of the sons of Arabia, in Morocco,
each according to his means brings the Jews an offering of value.

Yeast, honey and flour, the milk of a healthy cow,
fish, mint, and butter with wild flowers and flowers from the garden.

This night, Hebrews and Arabs are all seated together –
they rejoice with musical instruments and singing.

The Hebrew woman wears the clothes of an Arab,
the man wears an Arab vest, and the scent of incense and perfume.

One can no longer distinguish between a Hebrew and his Arab brother,
or if they are city dwellers or villagers: the good spirit overtakes them all.

The borders between Israel and the nations are blurred
If it wasn’t for the bloodthirsty who run the states.

It is these evil kings who deliver their people to catastrophe –
They are concerned only with their thrones, not the soul who suffers.

Abandon for all time conflict and bitterness!
Stop the bitter cries! Stop in the name of peace and freedom!

(Translation – Ruben Namdar and Joshua Levitt)