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How did the Pesach Seder become a Family Affair?

How did the Pesach Seder become a Family Affair?
This lecture will explore biblical, second temple, and rabbinic texts about how Pesach was celebrated in a diversity of ways in antiquity - as it is observed in many different ways in the present as well.  We will think about how Pesach was imagined to originate as a family ritual, how it took a detour as a priestly and scholarly men's endeavor, and then how it circled back in new ways to the family table.  We will begin, though, at the 2018 Samaritan Passover sacrifice in Nablus, in order to consider as expansively as possible the various trajectories that Pesach celebrations have taken or could have taken since antiquity, and then go back in time to the book of Exodus and beyond.  This lecture will be anchored in historical sources, but it aims to provoke us to think creatively and practically about how ideas related to time, memory, historical reenactment, and intergenerational rituals can be incorporated into contemporary Seders today.
Pre-Pesach Webinar 2019

Pre-Pesach Webinar 2019
Pre-Pesach Webinar with R. Daniel Reifman and Dr. Malka Simkovich Sunday, April 7th, 2019 Join from the comfort of your own home! "How was the Holiday of Passover Celebrated in Antiquity?" with Dr. Malka Simkovich "'I am that I am': The Exodus and the Problem of Knowing God" with R. Daniel Reifman 
The Renee and Alexander Bohm Memorial Lecture

Posted: 11/04/2019
The Renee and Alexander Bohm Memorial Lecture
Lecture is sponsored by their grandchildren, Elissa Shay Ordan and Daniel J. Ordan Rabbi Menachem Leibtag on Holidays and Theology in the Biblical Calendar: From a 'Holy Land' to a 'Holy People' Many of the practices of the festivals seem odd or out of place. The imagery of being "judged" in Tishrei, the practice of saying ya'ale ve-yavo on holidays and Rosh Hodesh, our counting both days and weeks in the omer - all of these take on new significance in light of the agricultural roots of the Jewish festivals and the biblical calendar. In this lecture, Rabbi Leibtag explores those, in order to better appreciate the way the calendar has evolved together with the world, and yet preserves its eternal sanctity. (11/04/2019)
Exodus: The Prequel (or: Why did Lot serve matzah to the angels?)

Exodus: The Prequel (or: Why did Lot serve matzah to the angels?)
Recorded from a webinar given March 25, 2018.
Under the Sea: The Song of the Sea and the Creation Stories of the Ancient Near East

Under the Sea: The Song of the Sea and the Creation Stories of the Ancient Near East
The Song of the Sea, the famed song of victory and thanksgiving recited by Moses and the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea and ritualized into our daily prayers, contains an apparent anachronism. In our quest to identify what appears to be out of place and why, we will examine selected excerpts of the Song, study its classical and modern biblical interpretations, and look at both the book of Psalms as well as ancient pagan creation stories. Join us as we seek a better understanding of the Song of the Sea, an iconic piece of the Exodus story.
The Haggadah

The Haggadah
Rabbi Silber shares his insights into the Passover Haggadah.
Go Forth and Learn: Thoughts on the Haggadah

Go Forth and Learn: Thoughts on the Haggadah
David Silber shares his thoughts on the Passover haggadah.
Only Ten Plagues, or More?

Only Ten Plagues, or More?
The Hagaddah suggests that ten plagues afflicted Egypt, and fifty plagues afflicted them at the Sea. (It even suggests there were fifty, not ten, plagues in Egypt!) Is the number of plagues important? What can the varied enumerations and structures of the plagues as found in Tanakh and rabbinic literature teach us about their desired objective and effect?
Songs of My Beloved: A Musical Celebration of Shir HaShirim

Songs of My Beloved: A Musical Celebration of Shir HaShirim
Thoughts on Passover

Thoughts on Passover
How do temple sacrificial rituals tie into the Seder service?
The Passover Seder

The Passover Seder
Thoughts on the Haggadah

Thoughts on the Haggadah
Love, Longing and Liberty: Reflections on Shir HaShirim

Love, Longing and Liberty: Reflections on Shir HaShirim
Shir HaShirim is at once the most sacred and most profane book of the Tanach, eliciting reverence and fear — and hence interpretation and re-interpretation — throughout history. This podcast explores how it came to thematize Pesach and how reading it closely might shape our experience of the holiday.
A Passover Message

A Passover Message
The Seder ritual employs two interwoven acts - eating and speaking. How do these two central features of the ritual inform each other?
Deception in the Exodus Story

Deception in the Exodus Story
There are many instances in the story of the exodus of God and the nation of Israel’s deception of the Egyptian people. Download this podcast to learn more. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture.
Passover Haggadah: Midrashic Reflections

Passover Haggadah: Midrashic Reflections
How do midrashic sources reflect on themes raised by the Passover Haggadah and how does the Haggadah uses such sources to tell its story?
The Omer Festival: Recovering a Lost Holiday and its Surprising Roots

The Omer Festival: Recovering a Lost Holiday and its Surprising Roots
We usually think of the Omer as a commandment to count up to fifty days as a bridge between Passover and Shavuot. What is much less familiar is that in certain post-Biblical works the Omer is considered its own festival. This podcast examines the surprising roots of the Omer. It analyzes passages in rabbinic literature alongside writings from the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo and the early Church Fathers. Listen and learn about the surprising roots of the Omer Festival!
Thoughts on Passover

Thoughts on Passover
What was the intention of the Mishnah in instructing us to read and perform exegesis of the text Arami Oved Avi during the Seder when on first glance it appears so unrelated?
Thoughts on Passover

Thoughts on Passover
What spiritual messages about the Exodus can be derived from the Dry Bones haftarah reading?
Thoughts on the Passover Haggadah

Thoughts on the Passover Haggadah
A sampling of Rabbi David Silber's insights into Arami Oved Avi, from A Passover Haggadah: Go Forth and Learn (JPS, 2011).
The Machine-Made Matzah Controversy: Law and Tradition in Conflict

The Machine-Made Matzah Controversy: Law and Tradition in Conflict
The acrimonious international debate that ensued in the mid-nineteenth century, when a machine for baking Passover matzot was invented, touched upon essential questions concerning the development of Jewish law and lent expression to deeply-held convictions regarding the relationship between traditional piety and modernization.
Thoughts on the Passover Haggadah

Thoughts on the Passover Haggadah
You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt: A Redemptive Reflection on ‘Strangers’ in Judaism

You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt: A Redemptive Reflection on ‘Strangers’ in Judaism
As Jews we are constantly reminded, “Be kind to the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” and the Pesach seder begins with the words, “Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the Seder of Passover.” Shuli Taubes will focus on developing a definition of the word ger (stranger) in Tanakh and rabbinic Judaism and its implications for how we think of ourselves in relation to the exodus from Egypt. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture 2012.
Home for the Holiday: The Miraculous Crossings of Passover

Home for the Holiday: The Miraculous Crossings of Passover
As modern people living in relation to ancient traditions, how can we conceive of the miracles and wonders that are so tightly woven into the holiday’s fabric? Download this podcast to learn more. The Rapoport Family Memorial Lecture 2011.
Song of Songs (part 1 of a 2-session class)

Song of Songs (part 1 of a 2-session class)
Click here to listen to the second session. We will engage in a close reading of Song of Songs and examine how it has been understood over the ages.  
Songs of the Seder

Songs of the Seder
For many, the songs of the seder are among the evening's true highlights. We will explore the midrashic relationships between the seder and song and focus on the roots and interpretation of three songs: Dayyenu, Echad MiYode'a, and Chad Gadya.
Blood, Bread, and Redemption: What is the “True” Story of Pesach?

Blood, Bread, and Redemption: What is the “True” Story of Pesach?
The biblical account of the Exodus has been utilized for millennia as the source-text for discussions on central dichotomies in the human experience (death versus life, slavery versus freedom, and a life of meaning versus a life without). In this lecture, we will explore some of the richest of these readings, and ask how the Passover narratives of the past answered the question, What is the real Passover story?
Major Prayers of the Jewish Festivals (part 1 of 3 sessions)

Major Prayers of the Jewish Festivals (part 1 of 3 sessions)
Click here to listen to the other class sessions. The class will focus on the festival amidah and hallel and the prayers for rain and dew.
Hallel: Song and Expression

Hallel: Song and Expression
Mystery of the Afikoman

Mystery of the Afikoman
The afikoman plays a central role in the celebration of the Passover seder. What is the history of the afikoman and what is its relevance for both children and adults? We will survey the traditional sources for an halakhic and historical study of this beloved tradition.
Israel Unbound: The Legacy of Slavery

Israel Unbound: The Legacy of Slavery
Why do we begin our history as a people with the story of our enslavement? We will explore the role of slavery in the development of our national identity and in our celebration of Passover.
In Your Blood Live, In Your Blood Live: Understanding the Blood of Circumcision, the Blood of the Pascal Lamb and the Blood of Childbirth

In Your Blood Live, In Your Blood Live: Understanding the Blood of Circumcision, the Blood of the Pascal Lamb and the Blood of Childbirth