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Velveteen Rabbi’s Passover Haggadah

Once again, the Velveteen Rabbi has updated her Passover Haggadah for the imminent arrival of Pesach 2012.

What’s different? According to the good Rabbi:

“…I want this edition to be user-friendly for a broad congregational audience, while still retaining the poetry and the beauty which make it my haggadah. So I trimmed it down — 48 pages instead of 82. Of course, I also wound up adding some material; I couldn’t resist!”

Read the entire description, plus download a copy from the original post.

Welcome! !ברוכים הבאים Read Me First If You’re New Here!

Welcome
Creative Commons License photo credit: disparkys

I wanted to take a minute and offer a hearty “Bruchim HaBa’im” – welcome – to any new readers who’ve wandered over here from the Cleveland Jewish News. An article that appeared in this week’s edition (“Connect with each other on CJN Connect“) listed a number of sites “by or of interest to members of the Cleveland Jewish community.”  If you want to get the latest EdibleTorah information there, click on over to CJNConnect, create an account and check out the “Chatter” section (about halfway down the page).

While I’m extremely excited to be included in the blogs listed, the others are, quite frankly, incredible and worth mention here as well:

That said, if you are new here, feel free to click around and get the lay of the land. Each Sunday morning you’ll find the food theme and invitation for the coming week.

If you want more information, you can take a quick look at “How Does This Work“, or get the full history from “And So It Begins“. Of course, there’s always the “About” page as well.

If you like what you see, you can stay in touch via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feed or good old email updates.

CROSSPOST: Not Religious, but Spiritual (and BORING)

While she hails from a different tradition, I DEEPLY appreciated Lillian Daniel’s observations, and wanted to share them during this introspective month of Elul. You can read the original post here

Riffing on Ms. Daniel’s theme, I think that Elul offers us the opportunity to explore the boundaries of what might be our comfortable habits, and approach a God who is not always convenient, not always understanding, and not always willing to forgive us offhand. We might find ourselves standing in front of a God who is justifiably upset with our behavior – individually or collectively – and wants something more than a trite “sorry”. If/When we find ourselves in that position, our responses – both active and emotion – can tell us a lot about ourselves.

Spiritual but Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me.

“On airplanes, I dread the conversation with the person who finds out I am a minister and wants to use the flight time to explain to me that he is “spiritual but not religious.” Such a person will always share this as if it is some kind of daring insight, unique to him, bold in its rebellion against the religious status quo.

Next thing you know, he’s telling me that he finds God in the sunsets. These people always find God in the sunsets. And in walks on the beach. Sometimes I think these people never leave the beach or the mountains, what with all the communing with God they do on hilltops, hiking trails and . . . did I mention the beach at sunset yet?

Like people who go to church don’t see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.

Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn’t interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself.

Thank you for sharing, spiritual but not religious sunset person. You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating. Can I switch seats now and sit next to someone who has been shaped by a mighty cloud of witnesses instead? Can I spend my time talking to someone brave enough to encounter God in a real human community?  Because when this flight gets choppy, that’s who I want by my side, holding my hand, saying a prayer and simply putting up with me, just like we try to do in church.

Prayer

Dear God, thank you for creating us in your image and not the other way around. Amen.”

Chosen, Choosing, Choices

Over on Open Source Judaism, Aaron has taken a look at the whole “Chosen People” topic, viewed through the lens of Harry Potter (also Chosen, but not quite in the same way).

One of his points caught my eye:

“We became chosen because God chose us. Nothing more, nothing less.”

I take issue with that idea – we weren’t just lucky winners in some galactic lottery. As I said in my comment on his site:

“…We had to opt-in first.

I never get chosen to be pitcher on the baseball team. Why? I never show up to practice. I actually have no interest in being on the team (or at least, not enough interest to get my butt off the couch and get to the field). So I can’t be chosen for anything.

The Israelites made the trek – whether you want to see it as physical or spiritual – to a new place, a place that was outside the conventions of the time, unclaimed by anyone, in the middle of nowhere.

They came and met The Coach even without knowing the exact rules of the game, but knowing they wanted to be part of it.

And THEN they were chosen. It took nothing more than that, but it also took nothing less.”

You can view the entire thing – including all the comments here.

Meanwhile, what do YOU think? Feel free to comment here or there.

Welcome to CJN Readers!

Welcome
Creative Commons License photo credit: disparkys

I wanted to take a minute and offer a hearty “Bruchim HaBa’im” – welcome –  to any new readers who’ve wandered over here from the Cleveland Jewish News.

An article that appeared in this week’s edition (“Foods That Elevate“) profiles the early years of the EdibleTorah experience, and how it went from an informal social gathering into the trend-setting cultural phenomenon it is today.

…or something like that.

If you are new here, feel free to click around and get the lay of the land. You will see a lot of posts labeled “OmerChallenge” because I’m wrapping up a 49-day blogging challenge, where I posted one short piece every day. Each Sunday morning you’ll find the food theme and invitation for the coming week.

If you want more information, you can take a quick look at “How Does This Work“, or get the full history from “And So It Begins“. Of course, there’s always the “About” page as well.

If you like what you see, you can stay in touch via Twitter, Facebook, RSS Feed or good old email updates. There’s also a chance to sign up for the weekly Email newsletter, which contains a brief wrap up of the posts that week, the food theme and invitation, and discussion questions you can use to keep the conversation going.

 

 

 

EdibleTorah D’var Torah on PunkTorah

The great folks over on PunkTorah asked me to offer some Passover ideas. You can read all about it there.

Here’s a taste, if you are curious:

In the movie “The Princess Bride”, the heroine Buttercup negotiates what she believes is safety for her true love Wesley before she is whisked off as a prisoner. As she rides away, Wesley looks at his captors (who have no intention of honoring the bargain) with a calm that contradicts his situation and says “We are men of action, lies do not become us”. Whereupon they knock him senseless and drag him to his death. (For those who haven’t seen the movie: Don’t worry, eventually he gets better).

In his essay “No, Everything Is Not Going to Be OK”, author Seth Godin eschewes the trite (and often empty) offer of hope that people seek. We are told by everyone from parents to spouses to managers to people at the other end of the bar that “it’s going to be OK”, when it is obvious that they barely understand our situation; when it is clear to us that it really WON’T be OK. But we choose to accept and believe their words because sometimes we want reassurance more than we want honesty or clarity.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that sometimes – maybe a lot of times – it WILL be OK. Our moment of panic is just that, and once the stress has passed things really will return to the way they were before.

But, Seth posits, when people need to create, or innovate, or adapt – in those situations, honestly it’s not going to be OK.

It’s going to be different. Some things MIGHT be better, but there’s a good chance that at least some things won’t be better, that some things won’t be the same and that some things could get worse. In fact, when we introduce change, there’s a chance that everything will get worse, at least for a while.

Standing at the edge of the sea – with the vast expanse of water in front of them and the might of the Egyptian army bearing down on them from behind, the Israelites may have realized this.

Click here to read the full article on Punk Torah.

Fanfare For the Kosher Man(ischewitz)

As I’ve mentioned before (in “Pork-nography” and “Pork-nography Revisited“), it’s a shame that “cooking kosher” has become somehow synonymous with “restricted and limited beyond all hope of having culinary validity”. I don’t think it’s that hard to imagine a setting where “kosher” is simply part of the rules of the game. Not the ONLY restriction, and not even a required, continuous restriction (I’m talking in terms of the larger culinary world, here, not the Jewish community) but simply another acceptable and welcomed style of cooking. Kosher cooking should be able to stand – proudly and un-self-consciously – shoulder to shoulder with French, Asian and other cooking styles.

Hopefully that will come about sooner rather than later.

I wrote recently (“Top Kosher Chef“) about a culinary school in New Jersey that teaches classic styles within a kosher context. That’s a good first step.

And now this Tablet Magazine article (“Eat, Eat“) has come out highlighting The Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off (which just celebrated it’s 5th year) brought cooking legend Jacques Pepin to the judging table. It doesn’t get more legitimate than that.

What was most inspiring was his attitude. Kosher was not some monumental obstacle that disrupted his creative culinary muse. It was just the nature of the setting – the same as if he were judging (and cooking) in a vegetarian context, or using all-local ingredients in some exotic locale. Of the fact that he couldn’t complete his vélouté with cream, he said,

“Normally, we finish with some cream, but of course, it’s kosher, so you cannot. We tried non-dairy creamer, but then we decided it was better to have it plain.”

No crime against gastronomy. Simply C’est la vie.

You can read the full article here, which is encouraging for the attitudes, but also for the implied changes brewing over at Manischewitz.

I am hopeful that more good (and oh by the way, kosher) things will served up soon.

The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah

Just like last year, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat (aka The Velveteen Rabbi) has updated her Haggadah and posted it as a free download from her blog.

Click here to read more about it, and click this link to download it directly.

From Aish: “Google Exodus”

After two years, the old “Facebook Haggadah”  has gotten a little stale.

Leave it to the jokers over at Aish.com to give the whole concept a fresh coat of virtual paint – working in  Google, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube (and yes, Facebook too) into a VERY modern retelling of the Exodus story.

Tradition teaches that each of us should feel as if we were personally freed from slavery in Egypt.

And for some of us, that freedom story includes wifi hotspots and unlimited downloads. Enjoy!

Good Morning, Atlanta!

Anyone who subscribes to the weekly EdibleTorah email Newsletter may remember that the Atlanta Jewish Times published one of my essays last month – a version of this post from over on GoingKosher.

Well, I was delighted to find out that in today’s edition they have also published a profile on EdibleTorah.com.

So first, I want to say “Bruchim HaBa’im” – welcome – to anyone who read this week’s AJT article and decided to check us out.

Second, for non-Atlanta dwellers, here’s a copy of the article for your reading pleasure! (click the picture for a larger, more readable version).