The Superhero Haggadah

The Superhero Haggadah: When Monoculture Meets Mono-Judaism

We live in a disjointed media market. Gone is the monocultural dominance and the sense of camaraderie you and your coworkers would feel as you gathered around the watercooler to discuss the latest twist on Lost. Instead, we binge whatever Netflix series our personal algorithm drops in our queue or turn to The Office for the umpteenth time. Jews too live in a disjointed market, albeit a religious one. Everyone knows the expression “two Jews, three opinions.” Whether it’s politics, God or Israel, we have never been able to come to a consensus on anything. Heck, we can’t even agree on how to spell the holiday Chanukkah Chanukah Hanukkah.  However, when it comes to Passover, the Jewish people display a certain level of unity and community not seen throughout the rest of the year. On the...

Continue reading

My Mother’s Three Seders

Though Rachel never felt it, her family was poor. She liked visiting friends who came from smaller families, had more room in their homes, and whose mothers served rich cakes. But her parents, Blima and Moshe, managed to eke out a living for their growing brood, and she never went hungry.  The Genuths, among 10,500 Jewish residents of Sighet (comprising 40 percent of the town’s population), lived in a three-room apartment near shops, a movie theater, synagogues and churches. Most importantly, they lived in the same long yard as Rachel’s grandmother Chaya, to whom Rachel and her siblings ran whenever Blima scolded them. It was Chaya who never let Rachel or her older sister Elisabeth forget that they must help those less fortunate. Never mind that Blima sold gifts of toys they received. Never mind that...

Continue reading

rabbis seder

Ask The Rabbis | Should Jews at the Seder Ask God to Smite Our Enemies?

Pour out Your wrath upon the nations that know You not, and upon the families that call not on Your name; for they have devoured Jacob, yea, they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation... May Your blazing anger overtake them. Pursue them in wrath and destroy them from under the heavens of the Lord.” — Passover Haggadah HUMANIST Even the seder itself appears to be of two minds about whether we should ask the Deity to smite our enemies on our behalf. On the one hand, there is a tradition to ask God to “pour out wrath and indignation upon the heathen who will not acknowledge him, who have devoured Jacob and laid waste to his dwelling.” On the other hand, we have a cautionary piece of advice from elsewhere in...

Continue reading

Passover Remixed

by Amanda Walgrove For thousands of years, the Passover Seder has evoked universal themes of personal liberation and religious freedom. Each generation tells and retells the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt. But the annual remembrance also has a history of being a uniquely malleable occasion that can be customized to certain values of an individual or household. From its conception, Passover has been a holiday predominantly based on interpretation of Bible narrative, using an aggadic midrash as its leading text for instruction and discussion during the Seder. While tradition has always been an important aspect of Jewish practice and ancestry, how much wiggle room is there to expand upon and perhaps amend certain traditions? The adaptation of the Passover Seder is commonly accomplished through the modification of two main tools used during the...

Continue reading

For Refugees, a Modern Exodus

By Adam Chandler Before escaping to Israel in 2003, Ephraim lived in a camp with 15,000 other Eritreans. Like a growing number of refugees from Eritrea as well as the Congo, Darfur, and Southern Sudan, Ephraim set off to evade the lethal farrago of political unrest, genocide, and deprivation that has come to typify the drought-laden portions of Eastern Africa. He left when he was 19, some seven years ago, a decision he says he made “to preserve life.” The trek itself was a life-risking gambit. He paid smugglers to take him north through a maze of menace filled with unceasing obstacles. Those who don’t die of fatigue, starvation, or dehydration on the way must make it through the Sinai Desert where an Egyptian policy of shoot-on-sight...

Continue reading