Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a rock-star of Jewish feminism, delivered a speech called “The Ten Plagues According to Jewish Women,” at the Downtown Seder on March 25 in Manhattan. An adaptation of this speech has been published on The Sisterhood blog, and it is fabulous. Pogrebin goes through each of the 10 Plagues and demonstrates how each symbolizes a problem facing Jewish women today.
In the degradation of Passover tradition that happens when parents get older and children move away; at times when there is no one young enough to sing the Four Questions without embarrassment; when the eating of the Hillel Sandwich is skipped because everyone at the table gets acid reflux; when the traditional four cups of sock-rotting Manischewitz dwindles to a single glass of Hagafen Chardonnay that is raised four times and demurely sipped by the host alone, one Passover tradition lives on: Matzoh balls, or knaidlach. Or, as my neighbor calls them, “those cool things you Jewish people put in soup on Passover.”
Yesterday,the Jewish Women's Archive sent out a Passover e-greeting with the subject line: "Who says there are only four questions?" One of several responses to ourgreeting was from Nina Amir who affirmed that, indeed, there are far more than four questions to explore on Passover.
Passover is next week. How did that happen?! I haven't even begun to prepare, but was reminded that I better get on the ball after reading the opinion piece "Raising Cups, Dropping Oranges" by Aurora Mendelsohn in the Forward. Mendelsohn discusses the ways in which her Seder's feminist rituals have changed over the past decade: Miriam's Cup has endured while the orange on the Seder plate has disappeared.
Apropos of Ellen's comment about "what makes Thanksgiving so meaningful for some American Jews" in her prior post, I thought I'd share an excerpt from an article published in The American Jewessin November 1896.
With Passover fast approaching, now is a perfect time to think about the many roles of courageous women in historical and contemporary quests for freedom.
As a start, check out the Jewish Women's Archive's resource on Jewish midwives which highlights Shifra and Puah, two women who play a critical part in the Exodus story through their acts of resistance in sparing the lives of Hebrew male babies born in Egypt.
In my online preparation for Passover, I came across a site called “japshopper.” How is this connected with Passover, you might ask? It’s actually the site of an artist named Melissa Shiff, and JAP stands for “Jewish art projects, products, politics.” Redefining the term, Shiff is selling her Jewish-themed, activist art creations (e.g. the Crush oppression matzo pillow and Matzo Ball Activist Kit) and donating a percentage of the profits to feed hungry people and to support progressive art projects.