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Chag Ha’matzot
Chag Ha’matzot

The name of the holiday “Passover,” is an allusion to God’s passing over the Israelite households during the plague of the firstborn, a critical element in the events of the Exodus. The name “Passover,” however, may be derived from an English convolution of the Hebrew Pesach, the Torah’s term for the Pascal lamb sacrificed on the holiday.

Fast Of The Firstborn
Fast Of The Firstborn

There has always been a lot of pressure on firstborn children, as they were often expected to care for the family property or business in order to ensure stability within the community. Even in modern society, the firstborn usually receives the most attention, the most responsibility and the most mistakes.

The Passover Story in Brief

On Passover, we commemorate the Exodus from Egyptian slavery. The following is a brief summary:

How Pharaoh Enslaved The Israelites
How Pharaoh Enslaved The Israelites

While reading the Book of Exodus, one might wonder at the swift descent of the Jewish nation from being the privileged family of the Viceroy, Joseph, to becoming downtrodden and abused slaves. Xenophobia, the fear of foreigners, is a common historical phenomenon. But, one would think that transforming a nation into slaves would take generations or result in rebellion.

Development of the Haggadah
Development of the Haggadah

On Passover night we are commanded “v’hee’ga’d’ta” and you shall tell, the story of the Exodus. (Notice the shared root of hee’ga’d’ta and Haggadah.) The Passover Haggadah serves as a step-by-step guidebook for telling the story of Passover.

The Beauty of the Book
The Beauty of the Book

Illuminated manuscripts inlaid with gold or silver leaf and spectacularly illustrated, are most often associated with the Medieval church (the Gospels, Psalters, etc), where texts were generally hand-copied until Western Europeans discovered the printing press.

The Rosenberg Trial
The Rosenberg Trial

In the early 1950s, the cold war brought to the limelight what appeared to be the vilest case of national espionage. At the center of this whirlwind was a middle-age Jewish couple, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.

Traditional Jewish Views on Birth Control
Traditional Jewish Views on Birth Control

Judith, the wife of Rabbi Chiya, having suffered in consequence [of pregnancy] agonizing pains of childbirth, changed her clothes [in disguise, in order to get an unbiased answer] and appeared before [her husband] Rabbi Chiya. ‘Is a woman,’ she asked, ‘commanded to propagate the race [fulfill the mitzvah of ‘Be fruitful and multiply’]?’–‘No’, he replied. Relying on this decision, she drank a sterilizing potion (Yevamot 65b).

The Nathan Sisters
The Nathan Sisters

The Suffragist Movement of the early twentieth century was a political cause about which many people felt strongly, either one way or the other. Maud Nathan and her sister Annie Nathan Meyer are excellent examples of this divide. Both exemplary women and activists, Maud was a leading suffragette, while Annie was known as an outspoken opponent.

Oh My Gosh…Passover Is Coming
Oh My Gosh…Passover Is Coming

The intensive physical and emotional preparations for Passover come from one seemingly simple commandment: “Seven days you will eat only matzah, but on the first day you shall have put away chametz from your houses…” (Exodus 12:15). Therefore, by the beginning of the holiday of Passover, no chametz whatsoever may be in one’s possession.

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