Passover 2009

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Maysie Maysie's picture
Passover 2009

In the last few years I've made a conscious decision to reclaim the passover tradition, having not grown up religious, nor did my Jewish mother. I received this insert from Jewish Voices for Peace, a variant of the Four Questions.

Quote:
Mah Nishtana. Questioning at the Seder Table. BY RABBI LYNN GOTTLIEB Chad Gadya Chava Alberstein wrote this song protesting Israeli militarism: How have you changed, how are you different? I changed this year.On all other nights I asked only Four Questions. This night I have a fifth question: “How long will the cycle of violence continue?"

(snip)

In the Mishnah we find another variant of the four questions: One for flat bread. One for bitter herb. One for dipping twice. One for the lamb roasted instead of boiled.

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301/images/2009JVPPassover.pdf

Michelle

Sounds lovely, Maysie!  I hope you have a happy and peaceful Passover.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Having no religious (at least, monotheistic) beliefs, myself, I've found a number of anti-occupation and feminist interpretations of the haggadah that have been very helpful for me in reclaiming this tradition. As well, in Toronto, for a few years there was a seder held by some people I know, all food and time donated by local foodies and chefs, with tickets sold and all funds going to Palestinian groups.

I respect your decision Unionist, and where it comes from.

I'm looking forward to my seder with family and friends.

Star Spangled C...

A chag Pesach sameach to all.

L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim.

Hoodeet

A chag Pesach sameach to all.

 

 

As for "L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim" - that is indeed a prayer that has become suspect . The right-wing Jewish fanatics have taken this so literally that the Holy Land is now infested with illegal settlements and the Jews are encroaching on Arab Jerusalem. Whoever is having or attending a seder and considers her/himself progressive should probably clarify the meaning of this sentence...

 

 

the truth

I also want to wish a Chag Sameach to all.

However, I am very concerned by the growing number of Jews who have fallen victim to the Palestinian propoganda.

The poor Palestinian people and especially those living under horrible conditions in Gaza need all the help and understanding that we can give them.

Unfortunately, most people tend to look to Israel when they ask why these people are in such a teribble state. The real truth is that that these poor people have been totally betrayed by their own leadership. In 1948 they were told to leave their homes so that the invading Arab armies could "throw the Jews into the sea". Then they could come back and reclaim not only their homes but the vacated Jewish lands as well.

Why didn't they accept the UN resolution which partitioned the land into Israel and Palestine. They could have had their own country then, but they prefered to kill the Jews rather than live side by side in peace.

After loosing the war, those same leaders that told them to leave their homes kept them in refugee camps. They were marginalized from society.

Then came the great Yasser Arafat and his Fatah movement. Again totally focused on killing Jews. He and his organization were a horribly corrupt dictatorship that deprived the people of freedom and hundreds of millions of dollars of aid that they pocketed. Every time Arafat had a choice between peace and war he chose war. The Palestinians could have had a country, but he cheated them out of it.

And now the great "democratically elected" Hamas leadership. It astounds me why everyone refers to Hamas as the democratically elected government of the people. They were elected and immediately stage a violent military coup, killing their parliamentary oppontents, cynically eliminating the parliament to which they were elected and becoming a new military dictatorship. They were elected to help create a democratic government that would focus on improving life for their people, not to stage a military coup and become dictators. Why not focus on looking after your people? Because it is more important for them to kill Jews.

Don't blame Israel for the blockade. Eygpt has also maintained a closed border policy. If Hamas were interested in economic reasons to cross the border, and not in smuggling in rockets and other weapons there would be no blockade.

Israel left Gaza. Why continue to shoot rockets? Why not focus on improving conditions? Because again the leadership is much more concerned with killing  Jews than giving their people a better life.

When Hamas refers to the occupation, they aren't just refering to the west bank, they mean, Tel Aviv, Haifa etc. They are not interested in living side by side in peace. They still just want to throw the Jews into the sea. 

The people of Palestine and of Gaza deserve what all people deserve; to live in freedom, with diginity and peace. They will never have it until they find leaders who focus on giving them that. Unfortunately their leaders are far more focused on killing Jews.

At some point in time the people of Gaza, need tio take responsibility for the situation that they find themsleves in, and need to look to their own leadership and ask why.

Until they get honest leadership they will not be able to improve their situation. Blaming Israel foe everything is simpler than taking responsibility for their own leadership's activity. It is time for them to grow up. For their sake.

 

Unionist

Star Spangled Canadian wrote:

L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim.

The U.S. doesn't suit you any more?

 

Caissa

LMAOROTF, Unionist. Thanks for today's chuckle.

Star Spangled C...

Unionist wrote:

Star Spangled Canadian wrote:

L'shana haba b'Yerushalayim.

The U.S. doesn't suit you any more?

 

hahaha. just an expression, unionist, as I'm sure you know. Has a nicer ring than "next year in charlottesville, virginia."

Unionist

By the way, "shanah" is feminine, so it's "l'shanah haba'ah". And you need the extra syllable to fit the usual tune.

Anyway, the Palestinians have more right to this expression than anyone else, so I will wish it on their behalf:

في العام القادم في القدس

Star Spangled C...

Now I have to get my wife to translate that for me...

Unionist

I thought your wife was Persian. I wrote in Arabic.

Here, I'll give you the Hebrew version:

לשנה הבאה בירושלים

thanks

thanks for the conversation here, i don't know alot about these traditions.

i'd appreciate it if anyone can provide translations to english for the meaning of the salutations.

i'm also very unfamiliar with the perspective outlined in #2 here.  if possible, i'd like to hear more about it. 

on another thread somewhere there was mention of Jews being 'amongst the nations'. 

how do these understandings integrate culture? of Jewish culture, and of other surrounding cultures?

this thread has reminded me that there are many currents in the upcoming weekend.

i have familial and cultural expectations, many of which i'm not comfortable with, but there is a dance in negotiating with family members around these things.  which goes on for years, generations. 

and at some level, there is learning which happens through diverse traditions, even traditions from my own background which, because they are associated with other elements i don't like, do have aspects which are significant. 

mostly i find that the most significant aspects of traditions from my own background are entirely in synch with the most significant of other traditions, and entirely in synch with anti-traditions. finding the translation is what is key.  which can be liberating for all.

so if people are able to share more about some of the understandings mentioned in this thread so far, i'd appreciate it. thx.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

thanks

these considerations also have implications for other threads, as people often, erroneously, seek to choose ethnic-specific schools for their children.  when i was a kid i went to public school, as my folks believed in that, and we got our cultural education at another program on saturday mornings.  but that's really around the other thread.

for here, i'm wondering what the scenario might have looked like, eg. if Jewish people in Egypt had acted differently-  what is the secular Jewish narrative in this area?  just curious.

Star Spangled C...

Unionist wrote:

I thought your wife was Persian. I wrote in Arabic.

Here, I'll give you the Hebrew version:

לשנה הבאה בירושלים

She speaks farsi but the letters are the same...jsut like Aramaic is written in Hebrew letters. she loves showing off how she knows more languages than I do...

How was everyone's seder? I maaaay have had more than the required 4 cups...

Unionist

thanks wrote:

i'd appreciate it if anyone can provide translations to english for the meaning of the salutations.

The Hebrew is: "Next year in Jerusalem!" In the traditional Jewish liturgy, it never meant physically going there - it was a wish for the coming of the Messiah. But the Zionists appropriated it for a very different purpose. That's why I questioned SSC's use of it, and suggested that if anyone had the right of return to "Zion", it was the Palestinian people.

Quote:
i'm also very unfamiliar with the perspective outlined in #2 here.  if possible, i'd like to hear more about it.

Any questions in particular?

Quote:
on another thread somewhere there was mention of Jews being 'amongst the nations'. 

how do these understandings integrate culture? of Jewish culture, and of other surrounding cultures?

Cultures don't need to be "integrated". People living as part of the same country or nation may share features of a common culture, while also maintaining other features unique to their own origin or tradition. Likewise with Jews.

Passover is part of my tradition, associated with religious, legendary, and family themes. Many people suggest that Passover is about freeing of the slaves, and I long bought into that view. Like Maysie, I long participated in seders that altered the liturgy and emphasized themes of peace, liberation of the Palestinian people, feminism, and anti-racism.

But I often wondered how people who support apartheid, occupation, and aggression can mouthe the words of the Passover story without any feeling of hypocrisy. I re-examined the story, and came to the conclusion that it's not about liberation at all. Hence the points I made in post #2 above.

 

Star Spangled C...

Can any of these "alternative Hagaddahs" be downloaded online?

By the way, on Sunday, I will be helping to conduct a seder in a maximum security prison. Should be very interesting.

Unionist

Travelling to Gaza?

 

Star Spangled C...

Nope, a federal penitentiary in Virginia. Chabad is holding a seder for the jewish inmates there and I volunteered to help out...in the spirit of "Matir Assurim."

thanks

thanks for the clarifications in #16.  i hear you saying that because of the behaviour of some who practice the traditions, ie) those who practice the traditions and oppress others, you looked at the narrative again and found it was a story designed at one level to promote oppression. i can understand that, there are similar dynamics in other religions.  it makes for challenges - challenges for dialogue.

i'm still curious about the q. i asked in #14. any thoughts on that?

Unionist

SSC is plotting a prison break!

Caissa

The Hagaddah provides the model.

Unionist

thanks wrote:

i'm still curious about the q. i asked in #14. any thoughts on that?

I can't answer your hypothetical question about what the Jews in Egypt should have done differently, even assuming the story has any historical basis. Nor can I tell you what "the secular Jewish" line is. I don't think secular Jews follow some dogmas.

I've given you my take on the significance today of the Passover story. What's yours?

Tommy_Paine

It's my understanding (by which I mean, I may have it wrong, I am amenable and ultimately thankfull for correction)  that this part of the Exodus story, while it may have been in oral tradition,  was not written down until the time of the Babylonian Captivity.  If so, it's easy to interpret this story as one being told to the Babylonians, hopefully to scare them into allowing the Hebrews there to return to the Promised Land.

As a story, I find elements disturbing.  We all know Pharoah was an absolute dictator.  Yet all the punishments seemed to have fallen against Egyptians that had no say about whether to let the Hebrews go, or keep them in, as Chuck Heston juicily kept saying, bondage.

I bring up the Cecil B. Demille version because, face it, that's the story most are familiar with.   There's a very subtle, but rather telling departure from the old testament account.  If we remember Cecil's narrator telling us that Pharoah's wife "hardened Pharoah's heart"   every time Yul Brenner wavered on Hebrew emancipation, and compare that to the old testament, we find it wasn't Pharoah's wife--- but god himself.

Just what sadistic game is being played here, by god? 

And what of the innocent first born of Egypt?

 

thanks

i don't really know a lot about the Passover story, historic or otherwise.

some of the themes have carried along.

the whole theme of a slaughter being salvific, the blood of a lamb, i find very disturbing, and that theme is unfortunately very central to views of Christianity in some circles. 

at one level in reality, we sometimes do see that often it is blood that leads to change, say political change.   but in my mind that's not something redemptive, rather unfortunate, and which usually only leads to more blood, and ongoing conflict.

at an ecological level, letting animals and the rest of creation 'suffer to redeem our loss' is unjust.

and of course there are so many more elements that need to be addressed.

generally speaking, in response as well to TPs comments, i think there are many ancient views of what god is or is not like, which may be out-of-synch with other elements in ancient texts pointing to different interpretations, including what/if spirit is/like, indwelling and the whole.

Tommy_Paine

 

You know,  in spite of the fact that it would seem this avowed athiest is yet again trying to rain on the religious parade,  I'm not.  I hold the old testament in high regard.  In fact, the stories there fill me with what Sagan called "the numenous"-- a sense of wonder not different from what religious people feel.

I know the religious use these stories to shed light on the mind of god, or look for direction on this behavior or that.  But to me they are as invaluable as any academic work on telling us who we were, and who we are.  I get the same spine tingling sensation of knowing I am not alone when I read "The Epic of Gilgamesh",  the poems of Catulus, or Asser's accounts of Alfred the Great.  

Once you understand them as stories, stories that illuminate the minds of the people who wrote them, you get a linkage more powerfull, I think, than the suggestion of the supernatural could ever inculcate.

 

thanks

those are all good linkages TP, but how can anyone say that spirit is not natural?

Tommy_Paine

Depends on what you mean by "spirit",  I guess.

thanks

yup

Unionist

Thought I'd bump this with Passover approaching and see if there are any fresh thoughts on the matter. I have none beyond what I said in [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/body-and-soul/passover-2009#comment-1006360]... #2[/url] last year.

 

 

al-Qa'bong

Quote:

As a story, I find elements disturbing.  We all know Pharoah was an absolute dictator.  Yet all the punishments seemed to have fallen against Egyptians that had no say about whether to let the Hebrews go, or keep them in, as Chuck Heston juicily kept saying, bondage.

 

I've often wondered how history might have been different had, say, Peter Lorre or Lon Chaney played Moussa in that picture, or if Paul Newman had played the role of a Palestinian in Exodus.

 

Unionist

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I've often wondered how history might have been different had, say, Peter Lorre or Lon Chaney played Moussa in that picture, or if Paul Newman had played the role of a Palestinian in Exodus.

Good question, but I think the effect would have been fleeting at best. Peter Shurman and Cheri DiNovo would still have risen in the legislature to condemn Paul Newman for not helping the cause of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

Aristotleded24

Maysie wrote:

Having no religious (at least, monotheistic) beliefs, myself, I've found a number of anti-occupation and feminist interpretations of the haggadah that have been very helpful for me in reclaiming this tradition. As well, in Toronto, for a few years there was a seder held by some people I know, all food and time donated by local foodies and chefs, with tickets sold and all funds going to Palestinian groups.

I respect your decision Unionist, and where it comes from.

I'm looking forward to my seder with family and friends.

I certainly agree that those interpretations are there. Particularly the theme of liberation. The Christian tradition tells us that Jesus ate the Passover meals with His disciples before He was handed over to the Roman authroties and eventually executed. For me, liberation ties in very well, here, as the Jews remembering their oppression in Egypt were also experiencing oppression under the Romans at the time. We all strive to be liberated, whether being experienced as a group or as individuals in our own minds.

To those babblers and lurkers who are Jewish, happy passover. To those who are Christian, happy Easter.

al-Qa'bong

al-Qa'bong wrote:
Quote:
As a story, I find elements disturbing.  We all know Pharoah was an absolute dictator.  Yet all the punishments seemed to have fallen against Egyptians that had no say about whether to let the Hebrews go, or keep them in, as Chuck Heston juicily kept saying, bondage.

I've often wondered how history might have been different had, say, Peter Lorre or Lon Chaney played Moussa in that picture, or if Paul Newman had played the role of a Palestinian in Exodus.

Someone is finally addressing this problem:

Quote:
Maintaining control of the Uris narrative is thus an important task for protectors of the status quo. Certain "balanced" accounts may be acceptable, but not mainstream versions that simply tell the story from a Palestinian point of view.

So what happens when a new film set for major American theatrical release threatens to do just that - with a premiere at the UN General Assembly, no less?

The movie is Miral, based on the autobiographical novel by Rula Jebreal that tells the story of three generations of Palestinian women. Its UN opening was greeted with protests from mainstream American Jewish organisations. "The show went on and, once again, Israel got the short end of the stick," wrote David Harris of the American Jewish Congress (AJC) in a Jerusalem Post piece. Harris' protests were couched as a criticism of the UN General Assembly and the fact that a pro-Israel film had never screened there, in part because of "the powerful Arab bloc" and "their buddies".

Yet the real concern of groups like the AJC is that they are losing control of the narrative. Harris quotes a review from his colleague, Lisa Palmieri-Billig, complaining that "Israel is portrayed as the unequivocal villain" in the film, by director Julian Schnabel, who is Jewish. "Not only did Schnabel choose not to tell the whole story, but he also shirked a director's responsibility of providing the historical framework necessary for even his half of the story."

Palestine comes to Hollywood

RosaL

I'm intrigued by the idea put forward by some scholars that the 'Habiru' who appear in ancient sources were marginalized peoples from various places who gathered together in Canaan and eventually became Israel and that the Exodus narrative is the story one of those peoples brought with them: they had been slaves in Egypt. 

I agree there's some material in the whole story that sounds very much like genocide. There are many disturbing things in there, frankly. But it helps - at least it does me - to remember that these people were not an imperial power. They were dispossessed people. Outcasts and wanderers. Some of them (on this theory) were escaped slaves. 

Mr.Tea

Chag Sameach to all celebrating tonight.

My house sure smells delicious with all the cooking we've doing today. Can't wait to eat it but that is still many hours away...

Slumberjack

My understanding is that there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that any of the events referred to in the Passover story occurred.

6079_Smith_W

Slumberjack wrote:

My understanding is that there isn't a shred of evidence to suggest that any of the events referred to in the Passover story occurred.

If you mean the alleged historical event, you are absolutely right. So what? I think the fact that it has a pedigree of many thousands of years gives it a firmer foundation than a lot of cultural festivals. Plus, much of the symbolism is a reflection of a history that is all too real.

 

 

 

Slumberjack

Well, it ranks right up there with two of every kind aboard Noah's Ark, the feeding of the multitude, and the Isra and Mi'raj.  It has no firmer foundational truth than last week's horoscope.

6079_Smith_W

No. neither is Christmas, Halloween, New Years, or Mardi Gras. But all of them, including Passover, are very real in terms of their symbolic meaning.

I read an article a few years ago in which Christopher Hitchens pointed out that he held a seder every year. And if you want to look at the historical record it is more likely that the hyksos who ruled northern Egypt were more closely related to what became the legendary 12 tribes than any imagined slaves.

But again, neither the historical record, nor even the scriptural record sums up what it means for people.

(edit)

Don't mean to get in your face about it, but I think we have enough trouble with fundamentalists insisting on a literal reading of things.

 

 

Unionist

I think the Passover tradition is unreclaimable.

Passover is portrayed as being a celebration of liberation from slavery. I used to kid myself about that too. Here is how I have come to understand the lessons of the Passover story:

1. The oppressed (Hebrew slaves in Egypt) are utterly powerless without external intervention (Yahweh).

2. The Israelites are strangers in a strange land. They don't really belong where they are - hence, their liberation entails flight, rather than fight.

3. They must have blind faith in their external liberator - to the extent that when they momentarily hesitate, yearn for their old homes, and worship an alien god, they are mercilessly condemned to wander and die in the desert. Only one single Israelite (Yehoshuah Bin Nun, aka Joshua) survived the trek. Even Moses died while watching the end of his journey just beyond his grasp.

4. Their ultimate "liberation" is possible only through the expulsion / extermination of the indigenous residents of Canaan (the "promised" land).

It's an allegory for modern imperialism, for antisemitism (the wandering and alien Diaspora Jew, existing everywhere and belonging nowhere), and the Zionist colonial enterprise.

The story may have inspired some in the past, but that time is gone. People today must rely on themselves for salvation, and they must not achieve it by enslaving others. Like the angel of death in the story, we are well advised to pass over this holiday.

ETA: (4 years later) - Re-reading this thread, I just realized I was wrong in #3 above. In fact, two Israelites survived the God-slaughter and were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The other was Caleb ben Yephuneh. I would estimate that doubles the historical validity of the Jews' claim to Palestine.

 

Caissa

Most of the Bible is aleegory/myth, Slumberjack.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Caissa wrote:

Most of the Bible is aleegory/myth, Slumberjack.

Some of it isn't? I didn't know that.

Unionist

*bump*

Even though I no longer believe in the virtues of Passover (see my [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/body-and-soul/passover-2009#comment-1006360]divine revelation[/url] at post #2 above), I still admire those who seek to imbue it with some progressive content. And there's generally good food associated with the experience. So hag sameach and gut yontiff to those who still believe and celebrate!

 

quizzical

Quote:
A bid by a group of Jewish women to challenge tradition at Jerusalem's Western Wall with a blessing usually conducted by men was curtailed Sunday after a decision by Israel's attorney general.

The plan was the latest by the group, Women of the Wall, to push for equal prayer rights at the site, the holiest location where Jews are currently allowed to pray.

...The rabbi who oversees the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitz, called the gathering a "provocation" and argued that the blessing they wanted to carry out had never been done "by any (Jewish) community in the world."

He said their actions "hurt feelings and desecrate."

huh.

 

Unionist

Thanks for this story, quizzical. Unfortunately, a state which oppresses, occupies, and murders the indigenous Palestinian population can't really be expected to be enlightened when it comes to women either.

Sadly, when Stefan Jonasson, Unitarian Universalist minister and NDP candidate for Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley riding (in Winnipeg) prior to the October election, decided to speak the truth (three years earlier!) about these ultra-Orthodox women-hating sects, he was forced to pull out of the race by Tom Mulcair and his handlers.

Rev. Jonasson is well worth learning about and learning from, IMHO.

johnpauljones

this is not a new story and i actually dont think it has a lot to do with the government of Israel. Rather speaks volumes to the divides within the Jewish community and levels of observance -- reconstrucitonist, reform, conserive, orthodox, modern orthodox, Torah Egal and more

 

we see similar play out in Canada as well with who may be counted as part of a minyan and the differences in how one is counted across the spectrum of observance.

 

the woman of the wall to some are champions and to others are not. That being said I have often wondered how this issue of the wall will translate to Canada. So far i have not seen it translate at all or change anything regarding what and how the different canadian streams of judaism operate and worship.  

Unionist

johnpauljones wrote:

this is not a new story and i actually dont think it has a lot to do with the government of Israel.

The government of Israel enforces this hateful patriarchal practice, as pointed out by the article:

Quote:
A decision from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday prohibited the first-ever "women's priestly blessing" at the wall because it did not conform to local custom.

Such a decision would be unlawful in Canada. Clearly Israeli law permits such discrimination.

Quote:
we see similar play out in Canada as well with who may be counted as part of a minyan and the differences in how one is counted across the spectrum of observance.

Yes, because a minyan is a purely private matter. Even though I'm male, I'm quite sure some sects wouldn't count me because I'm an atheist, or because I'm anti-Zionist, or a host of other reasons. Doesn't bother me, and it's not a matter for human rights legislation. Use of a public space, however? Not the same.

Quote:
the woman of the wall to some are champions and to others are not.

This isn't about whether one supports them or not. Personally, I can't fathom why anyone, regardless of gender, would want to waste their time praying at the Wall. This is about whether one treats woman as unequal to men when it comes to the use of public spaces. It's disturbing that you appear not to appreciate that distinction.

Quote:
That being said I have often wondered how this issue of the wall will translate to Canada. So far i have not seen it translate at all or change anything regarding what and how the different canadian streams of judaism operate and worship.  

Well, I gave a clear example of how it translates to Canada. Stefan Jonasson called out Haredim of this ilk for their misogynistic practices, and he was forced to resign as an NDP candidate. This clearly shows how dangerous this toxic misogyny is and how urgently it needs to be eradicated.

The Canadian Charter gives primacy to the equality between men and women over all else. Anyone who wants to discriminate against women is allowed to do so - in their private lives - not under the law, not in employment, not in lodging, not in the provision or use of any public service, etc.

johnpauljones

Unionist our views are not that far apart on this. My beef is with the chief rabininette and the inequality across the spectrums of judaism rather than the government on this one. That is the main difference. For generations the Chief rabinette has discriminted against those that we call reform, conservative and reconstructionist whether it be on issues of kashrus, the granting of a get or the definition what type of conversion is allowed. 

 

i am not learned enough on catholicism or anglicanism to know if non-orthodox voices are heard or pushed to the sides

that being said and as an aside i do think that it is time to see the end of the strong religious party influence -- but with pr in israel i am not sure how that is done. maybe raise the threshold for "party elected" 

oldgoat

Speaking of alternate hagaddahs I was listening to the author of the baseball hagaddah (a reform Rabbi) being interviewed, along with a conservative Rabbi. As well as being intersting, they could both give up their day jobs and be comedians, but anyway....

 

http://www.timesofisrael.com/baseball-haggadah-takes-us-out-to-the-seder/