Sometime during the mid-70s, a friend and I had the idea of changing the way we celebrated Passover. We didn't know anyone else who was doing this at the time. Therefore, the idea of re-writing the Haggadah seemed startling and even blasphemous. Now, 30 years later, this re-writing has itself become part of an emerging Passover tradition.
Here I am, almost 65 years old, with 150 words to describe my life! That’s less than three words per year. Clearly, there is a need for consolidation. But consolidation according to what principle? What really matters about my life? What counts professionally, personally, intimately, collectively? What do I want to set down in this brief space? After a moment’s thought, I know: I come from a Russian-Jewish, Marxist family that had set aside its practice of Judaism. I didn’t even realize until long after he was dead that my father, who was born to an Orthodox family, had been a bar mitzvah and as an adult still read Hebrew. I have had to discover Judaism on my own, educate myself, and learn what it means to be a Jewish woman who worships Shekhinah (the feminine presence of God). I am proud of this accomplishment. I am a Jewish writer. What more is there to say?
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The Spirit of Peace Haggadah, by Kim Chernin, 1973.
Credit: Courtesy of Kim Chernin.