When asked to name early American Jewish poets, the first name that comes to most people’s mind is Emma Lazarus. It may therefore be surprising that the first published American Jewish poetess was a woman named Penina Moise.
Although the site of the mountain fortress of Masada, the history of which was recorded by the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, was “discovered” in 1842, the site was not excavated until the 1960s. The dig was led by Israeli Archeologist Yigael Yadin, who was joined by thousands of volunteers. Today, this incredible archeological site is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel.
“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your goodly oils, your name is ‘oil poured forth.’ Therefore, the maidens loved you. Draw me, we will run after you…” (Song of Songs 1:2-4).
Ashkenazi or Sephardi? Hungarian, Yekke (German), Lithuanian?
“…The prophets of the Jewish people ordained that the Hallel be recited on special occasions and celebrations [like Yom Tov], and at times of national deliverance from peril, in gratitude for their Redemption” (Pesachim 117a).
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.
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.
On Passover, we commemorate the Exodus from Egyptian slavery. The following is a brief summary:
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.
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.