Posts Tagged ‘Pesach’

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

April 15, 2014

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?T

The Haggadah (הַגָּדָה‎) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ritual meal, the Seder.

“There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called ‘symposium literature’. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation.”

–”Platonic Form,” Judith Shulevitz, Tablet Magazine

The ancient Greek symposium (συμπόσιον) was a drinking party; drinking four glasses of wine is a Passover obligation. Diners are supposed to recline while they do so, just like the Greeks.

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The Macaroons of Moses

April 14, 2014

The Macaroons of Moses

Tonight many Jewish families hold the Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

(more…)

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

March 26, 2013

Passover Seder: Greek Symposium?

The Haggadah (הַגָּדָה‎) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover ritual meal, the Seder.

“There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called ‘symposium literature’. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation.”

–”Platonic Form,” Judith Shulevitz, Tablet Magazine

The ancient Greek symposium (συμπόσιον) was a drinking party; drinking four glasses of wine is a Passover obligation. Diners are supposed to recline while they do so, just like the Greeks.

(more…)

The Macaroons of Moses

March 25, 2013

The Macaroons of Moses

Tonight many families (including the Obamas) host the Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

(more…)

The Macaroons of Moses

April 7, 2012

The Macaroons of Moses

Last night the Obama family hosted the annual White House Seder, the ritual meal celebrating the Jewish holiday of Passover. Many Americans are unfamiliar with the customs of this dinner, such as recounting the Exodus story as told in the ancient Maxwell House Haggadah and the obligation to drink four glasses of wine (oh, the sacrifices …).

One seasonal custom puzzling to Gentiles is the appearance of canned Kosher cookies in American supermarkets. Many Jews are puzzled as well, since the cookies are macaroons made with coconut, chocolate, and other ingredients not prominent in the Old Testament.

(more…)

White House Seder

April 17, 2011

White House Seder

At sundown on Monday April 18th, the Obama family and friends will celebrate the third White House Seder, the Passover holiday dinner that commemorates freedom. There are ceremonial aspects to the meal, including four glasses of wine, but basically it’s a feast, a feature of any holiday worth observing.

There is one aspect that sets the Seder apart: storytelling. Guests read the Exodus story from slim booklets called Haggadahs which incorporate Biblical and non-canonical episodes, commentary, prayers, folktales, and folksongs. There are many versions of the story, like you get in any group of Jews; since parents are instructed to tell their kids the ancient story as if it personally happened to them, that’s entirely appropriate. Two new stories have emerged, one about the Obama Seder itself, and perhaps these should be added to American Passover lore:

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On Facebook: Passover 2.0

March 29, 2010

On Facebook: Passover 2.0

Oy! You’re at the Seder table and can’t find those old wine-stained haggadahs. No sweat. Just haul out your iPhone and use the 2010 Facebook Haggadah. It’s based on an ancient text — the 2009 Facebook Haggadah.

A really old-style option: downloading Rabbi Blank’s Internet Haggadah. Of course, many youngsters prefer to follow Moses out of Egypt on Twitter ….

 

h/t: PunkTorah.com

Image (“Moses Gets Friended, after Rembrandt van Rijn”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license. Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.


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