Every year, poet and novelist Marge Piercy creates her own Passover seder with a group of family and friends. Babies have been born and grown up, friends have moved or divorced, but the principals continue to gather in her rustic Cape Cod home to participate in a seder that Piercy takes joy in tweaking each spring to make it more meaningful. In this journey through the ritual, Piercy coaxes us toward “a significant contemporary interpretation, rather than an emphasis on what is strictly ‘correct’ or traditional.” She reminisces about her grandmother, who thought herself unworthy to lead a seder because of her limited Hebrew but presided “morally” at the table; she urges adding an orange to the seder plate; she even describes her heroic efforts to make her own gefilte fish (an experiment not to be repeated).
Piercy offers her distinct slant on each element of the feast and provides dozens of her own wonderful recipes, which she delivers in the same warm, commanding voice as is heard in her poems and prose: “When I told Ira that I was going to explain how to cook matzoh brei, he thought I was crazy. Everybody knows how to make matzoh brei, he said. But I am of the opinion that there is no longer anything that everybody knows how to cook.”
It is in that spirit–no question too simple–that Piercy welcomes readers to her kind of seder: a homemade and personal affair, the kind we all wish we could attend. This charming and instructive book of Passover wisdom, brimming with favorite dishes and Marge Piercy’s own moving Passover poems and blessings, invites us to look at an important Jewish ritual in a whole new way.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Pesach for the Rest of Us|
|Release Date: 04-02-2009|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Pesach for the Rest of Us
Chapter 1: What Kind of Book Is This and Who Is It For?
Pesach is a very important holiday for me. Every year, I lead a seder with a haggadah I have been working on for twenty years. Mostly the same people come from Boston, from New Jersey, from Arlington, Massachusetts, from two miles away, and from a quarter of a mile—we all gather gradually in my small Cape Cod house. Over the years, a couple and their children moved to Chile; some people tried it and it was not their kind of seder. One young woman grew up and now brings her husband. Children have been born and joined the seder. But basically we’re pretty much the same core group year after year.
Like many Jews, Pesach is my favorite holiday and the one where I find the strongest personal meaning. I came to studying it earlier than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, perhaps because it is preeminently a holiday to share with family and friends. In this little book, I will make my way through the ritual one item and one practice at a time. I am looking for a significant contemporary interpretation, rather than an emphasis on what is strictly “correct” or traditional. I want to encourage you to fashion your own seder in a way that speaks honestly and powerfully to you and your circle, whoever they are—family, friends, an organization.
I often provide a historical perspective to help you choose or create a ritual that works for you. Much of what we may have been brought up with in modern Judaism in siddurs, in customary rituals of brit or bar or bat mitzvah, in holiday services or activities, was invented, worked out, haggled over, revised over many generations. You can borrow or create or c