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Pre-Passover Special Edition: Let My People Go

Dear friends,

I assume that many of you are getting ready for Pesach, just as I am. My house is in a bit of disarray - bags of unopened chametz to donate, bags of opened chametz to finish or throw out before the holiday begins on Monday night, bags of Kosher for Passover dry goods to go onto the shelves - but first of course, is Shabbat, so we haven’t yet brought up the six massive boxes in which we store all of our Passover cookware. After our surreal Saturday night, things are back to our “normal” post-Oct 7th reality. Day 196. Bloody hell. It’s long past time to Let My People Go.

As Pesach is my favorite holiday, I thought I’d share with you some resources, literary, culinary, spiritual and academic, though not in that order.

An Inspiring Resource for Your Seder

Here is part of a post that Josh (my husband) wrote today. (As I mentioned previously, he’s been teaching and posting pictures from haggadot from the 1940s and 1950s - WWII and the early days of the State):

Today…a woman in line [at the butcher] told me she wishes Pesach would be canceled this year. The situation is just too terrible. I didn't argue with her in line but I'll do so here.Pesach is a time of optimism, a holiday in which we celebrate the blessings we were given, even if we were not given enough, and in which we muster our strength to build a better world.Today's Haggadah pic offers such inspiration. The Haggadah is from 1943 and was composed by Jewish soldiers serving in various allied forces (England, Canada, US and many soldiers from Palestine) fighting the Nazis and Italians in Libya. These people were living among the worst times Jews had known, but they were part of the forces that fought back and won. Their story is one of the stories we need to tell.

Josh has created a haggadah supplement that we’ll be using at our seder this year, and after so many people asked for copies, we’ve created a PDF version that can be downloaded here. As he says, seder should be inspirational and hopeful.

In addition, the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center has put out a Pesach Magazine with articles and resources, including several by Josh and his colleagues, which you can find here.

Rabbi David Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, has composed a prayer for the return of the hostages. Halavai (may it come to pass) that by the seder, all hostages are back home and we won’t need to recite it. I found an English translation and this can be downloaded here. (I’m not familiar with this organization, but thanks for the translation!)

A Pesach Recipe Book

Turning to culinary matters, when I was new to this newsletter and new to Canva and it was Covid, I put together some Passover recipes that are featured in The Book of Jeremiah, just for fun. I updated it two years later. I see that I wrote in the introduction back in 2020 that I was trying to distract myself from the news…hmm…Anyhow, if you’re still recipe hunting, you can download the cookbook here.

And in the literary department…

Some readings and recommendations from my friends Vivian, Merri, and Erika:

  • The October 7th Haggadah (Jewish Book Council) - by Vivian Cohen-Leisorek, which I meant to share in my mid-month update, but certainly relevant here!

  • Merri Ukraincik’s latest Days of Rest newsletter features a great reading list, an interview with Sarah Ansbacher (appearing at next month’s Literary Modiin), suggestions on how to help authors, and more.

  • Erika Dreifus’ My Machberet is a weekly blog about goings on in the Jewish literary world (and yet another example of Erika’s amazing, selfless literary citizenship). Give it a read and subscribe!

And in case you missed any of these, my own Pesach writings:

  • On Pesach, She, an essay published by TC Jewfolk

  • “A Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm” is the first story in The Book of Jeremiah, and takes place, partly, a seder. Hope you’ll give it (and the whole book!) a read. Follow the “Buy Me a Coffee” link below to get a signed copy.

If you’re in need of some uplifting, may I suggest listening to the Literary Modiin Israel solidarity event from the other night? And please take this 2-minute survey that I meant to post during the event about things you’d like to see in the Jewish literary world.

I’m excited about our May and June Literary Modiin events (featuring Gila Green, Sheryl Abbey, Sarah Ansbacher, Don Futterman, Joan Leegant, and Dawn Promislow)…If you can think past Pesach, register for them now!

Last but not least in the literary section: mazal tov to Elizabeth Graver on winning the Edward Lewis Wallant Award this year for Kantinka, and mazal tov to Oren Kessler for winning the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for Palestine 1936: The Great Revolt and the Roots of the Middle East Conflict, announced this week. It’s cool to host authors at Literary Modiin and then see them go on to win major awards! And it’s cool that there are too many to list…

ביי בינתיים (Goodbye for now)

Tonight - as I was hosting a webinar (for my actual paying job) - I was getting simultaneous reports from the unity rally in Tel Aviv attended by my daughter AND from my Barnard friends about the mayhem at Columbia. I wish I could have been at the former, and a huge thank you to Columbia President Minouche Shafik for her Congressional testimony on antisemitism and for her stand today. Spotted this column in the NYT by Pamela Paul At Columbia, the Grown-Ups in the Room Take a Stand. Right on. (Hey literary journals and publishers, take note! )

Tomorrow I’m off for more volunteering in the agricultural sector, this time with my parents in tow. We’ll be packaging herbs and leafy things at שדות ירוקים (Green Fields, aka the Levi farm) in Matzliah, near Ramle. Who is having kale at their seder??

Laila tov (goodnight), shabbat shalom (self explanatory?), chag sameach (happy holiday), and b’sorot tovot (you should know this one by now…may we hear good news soon). May our holiday of freedom bring freedom for the 133 hostages. May our soldiers stay safe or heal quickly, and may there be less suffering all around.



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