my first berkshire abc
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hanukkah stories | table of contents
high holiday stories
A notable feature of modern Judaism, especially in America, is its inventiveness-its many variations within its long-standing traditions. As Passover approaches, some families will bring out a variety of Haggadahs; others will revise the old or write new ones for the events of this year.
Nancy Rips, a bookseller and longtime Seder host, collects anecdotes, observations, memories, and jokes-many of them irreverently hilarious-from the likes of Rita Rudner and Rabbi Harold Kushner. The book underscores the humor, the unpredictability, and the love that have shaped so many Seders for so many generations and includes a helpful glossary of terms for the Passover-unenlightened. For most collections.
Christian Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information - School Library Journal
Besides Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the Jewish High Holy Days), Passover (Pesach) is the most universally observed religious holiday among Jews in the United States. The cornerstone of Passover is a family celebration/religious/educational experience called “the Seder.” The purpose of the Seder is for Jews to recall the “Exodus” from Egyptian slavery, experienced thousands of years ago and described in the Bible.
In every generation, says the Hagaddah (the book of prayers and readings used to conduct a Seder), it is one’s duty to regard himself (or herself) as though he (or she) had personally gone out from Egypt. In so doing, we not only remember for ourselves the value of freedom, faith and tradition, we also pass these values onto the next generations. Nancy Rips' newly-published collection of stories anecdotes, quotations and questions from Cumberland House called simply Seder Stories is a welcome addition to anyone’s Seder planning strategy. Whether you use a “traditional” Hagaddah or have created your own, the quips, quotes and anecdotes contained in Seder Stories can be inserted here and there to enliven your Seder or used as jumping off points for deeper exploration.
Rips presents both traditional and contemporary takes on the meaning of both the holiday of Passover and its celebration. Contributors span pop culture figures, scholars, contemporary thinkers and normal, every-day people. It is the breadth of the wisdom and warmth (and humor) of the of the 101 Passover tidbits that allow this little book to resonate with anyone who attends, prepares, enjoys or is perplexed by this uniquely Jewish week-long festival.
Celebrities, including Richard Dreyfus, Joan Rivers, Billy Crystal and Rosanne Barr offer their lighter thoughts on the holiday alongside quotations from the Talmud, philosophers and scholars, including Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and Rabbi Harold Kushner.
A particularly amusing chapter is called “The Dysfunctional Family Seder Survival Guide.” “Pesach is a time for gathering together around the Seder table and reliving the liberation of our people from Egyptian Bondage with signs and wonders,” says Rips. “Unfortunately this ritual does not free us from enslavement to our extended family. The ‘signs’ of that togetherness included elevated blood pressure, shattered nerves and a churning in the pit of your stomach.”
Rips goes on to provide strategies for dealing with a variety of familial types often unavoidable at the Seder gathering from that annoying aunt, who can’t stop interrupting to your newly self-confessed vegan niece, who scolds (continually) about the hypocrisy of discussing affliction and slavery eating the flesh of exploited animals!
Rips also includes a mini-manual for singles, including a very clever connection between the traditional order of the Seder and the dating game. Seder Stories can help liven up a traditional Seder, or provide source material for those who enjoy creating their own unique Seder experiences. Passover begins with the first Seder on Saturday night, April 19th.
Barbara Barnett - blogcritics.org
After reading this book I appreciate the similar differences between Jews and every other ethnic and religious group. Not being Jewish, I was unaware of most of the tradition associated with the rite of Passover. I certainly knew it to be the celebration of the migration of the Jewish tribes out of the slavery of Egypt to the land now known almost universally as the Holy Land. However, the symbolic reaffirmation of tradition and Jewish roots so inherent in the holiday was not part of my knowledge.
Reading this book certainly changed that and it also refreshed by belief in the universality of humans and their customs. So many of the actions described by these people when they engaged in their Seder celebrations could be slightly altered and they would describe Christians or even atheists celebrating the holiday of Christmas. Yet, deep within the ceremony there is a long history of tradition, the food that is consumed, the reading of the stories and the reminders that the history of the Jews is a long one. A deep, tragic and convoluted history that must be passed from one generation to the next so that all future generations will know what it means to be a Jew.
It is most unlikely that I will ever be personally involved in a Seder, but now I can appreciate the ceremony, what it means and how it reaffirms that there are similar differences between the Jews and every other ethnic and religious group.
Something for all ages and all branches of Judaism. I love this book!! What makes it special is the variety of memories shared by a variety of people from all walks of Judaism, and folks of all ages, which makes this a book that has something for all ages.
Love the size of the book, and its layout, and for someone who is a bibliophile I loved the font (print) used which makes the book easy to read.
I am so happy to have the book in my home library.