SUKKOT is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th of Tishrei as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. A Hebrew word meaning “booths” or “hut, ” Sukkot refers to the Jewish festival of giving thanks for the fall harvest as well.

Ethiopian Jewish Sukkot Celebration!

A beautiful Bnei Menashe sukkah in Mizoram, in northeast India.

Sukkot reminds us how fleeting and fragile is all that we treasure in God’s world. On Yom Kippur we recited Yizkor, the memorial prayer. A certain kind of deep learning begins in loss but cannot end there. On Sukkot we gather up our fears and failures, and boldly build a hut on shifting ground. We are not forever, but we are here now to grab life with both hands. ~ Rabbi Wolpe

On Sukkot, we leave the comfort of our permanent homes for temporary dwellings that remind us of our journey in the desert. In honor of the holiday’s historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, as our ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah.

According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or “lulav,” with two other branches, along with an “etrog,” they make up the “four species” used in holiday rituals.

 Serigraph: Time of Our Joy by Lynn Feldman


Rabbi Capers Funnye talks about Global Judaism at Sukkot gathering.

The Sukkah in Kurdistan: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Sukkah in the Desert: Movable Feast: Sukkahs from Around the World, 2003 exhibit, Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The world goes around. The seasons come and go. The festivals seem to repeat themselves. Yet the message is clear. With all our differences – we are the same. With all our similarities, we are different. With all our uniqueness – we sit in one Sukkah, the same one wherever we go. And in it, we realize we are all G-dly souls, destined to work on ourselves, to grow and fulfill G-d’s wishes. Next to G-d, however – next to Infinity, we are all exactly the same. ~Rabbi Eliyahu Shear 

 May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported – In the coming year.

G’mar Chatimah Tovah ~ May You Be Sealed For A Good Year!

Kol Nidre, an Aramaic song, whose unforgettable melody ushers in the holiday of Yom Kippur, allows Jews to take back promises that could not be fulfilled or were made under force. It performs the psychological function of allowing Jews to clear their conscience of promises of a personal nature that could not be kept. In the historical sense, it was created in the Middle Ages to permit Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity to return to the faith of their ancestors.

Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl joined Central Synagogue as senior cantor in 2006. In 2014, she was chosen by the congregation to lead Central Synagogue as senior rabbi. Here she sings Kol Nidrei.

 Kol Nidre Transliteration: Ve’esarei, Ush’vuei, Vacharamei, Vekonamei, Vekinusei, Vechinuyei. D’indarna, Ud’ishtabana, Ud’acharimna, Ud’assarna Al nafshatana
Miyom Kippurim zeh, ad Yom Kippurim haba aleinu letovah
Bechulhon Icharatna vehon, Kulhon yehon sharan
Sh’vikin sh’vitin, betelin umevutalin, lo sheririn v’lo kayamin
Nidrana lo nidrei, V’essarana lo essarei
Ush’vuatana lo shevuot.

Translation: All Vows, prohibitions, oaths, consecrations, vows that we may vow, swear, consecrate, or prohibit upon ourselves- from this Yom Kippur until the next Yom Kippur, may it come upon us for good – regarding them all, we regret them henceforth. They will all be permitted, abandoned, cancelled, null and void, without power and without standing. Our vows shall not be valid vows; our prohibitions shall not be valid prohibitions; and our oaths shall not be valid oaths.

Listen to Kol Nidrei Musical Traditions From East to West: Sephardi, Moroccan, Yemenite, Koenigsburg, Berlin.

Yom Kippur occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. It is a time of continued reflection, a time to examine human behavior. History has taught human beings to rely on themselves for creating change in our society. Yom Kippur is the culmination of our examination of our behavior begun on Rosh Hashanah. It is a time to reflect on the moral quality of our values and actions. Yom Kippur a celebration of inner strength and a time of self-forgiveness.

Introspection and goal setting are traditional behaviors on the High Holidays. There are three key elements to for Yom Kippur: teshuva, tefilla, and tzedaka.

Teshuva is a Hebrew word, usually translated as “repentance,” but which actually means return. Teshuva is the action of returning to our values and ideals, renewing our commitment to the highest standards of our ethics.

Tefilla is traditionally translated as “prayer,” but comes from a word that means self-reflection. Tefilla directs us toward self-evaluation.

Tzedaka usually signifies “charity,” but the deeper meaning conveys what kind of human beings we wish to be: tzadikim, or people who embody the highest ideals of the Jewish people.

Teshuva, tefilla, and tzedaka – meaning a return to our ideals, self-reflection, and puttingour ethics into action .

Artist Lynne Feldman

May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported In The Coming Year!

Tizku L’Shanim Rabot ~ May You Merit Many Years!

Graphic courtesy of

Pomegranates are traditionally eaten on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. They are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate

Crown of a Pomegranate


Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson, Track: B’Rosh Hashana featuring Lynette

L’Shanah Tovah! 

NACOEJ Limudiah Student in Rishon LeZion

What is a Shofar?

…In the seventh month, on the first of the month, there shall be a sabbath for you, a remembrance with shofar blasts, a holy convocation. -Leviticus 16:24

How is a Shofar made?

Shofar Shogood!!!

“May it be Your Will That Our Merits Increase Like The Black-Eyed Peas.”

Sephardic Black-eyed Peas

1/2 pound dried black-eyed peas, or 3-4 cups frozen black-eyed peas cooked according to directions on package

5 cups water 1 tablespoon tomato paste

3/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika salt and pepper and cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

To prepare the peas: pick them over, getting rid of any pebbles and   broken or discolored peas. Soak them 8 hours or overnight in water to cover; or put them in a saucepan with a quart of water, bring to boil, boil uncovered 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand one hour. Drain and rinse the peas. Put them into a medium saucepan and add the water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook about 1 1/2 hours (or until tender) over low heat. Drain the peas, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. (I’d reserve more to be on the safe side; this doesn’t seem like enough to me.) Put drained peas into a medium saucepan. Mix the reserved cooking liquid with the tomato paste and add it to the pot. Add the coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil, add the onion, and saute over medium head, stirring often, about five minutes. (She uses a non-stick skillet; you might need more oil with a regular skillet.) When the onion begins to brown, add a tablespoon of water and saute until the onion is deeply browned. Then add the onion to the pea pot, cover, and gently heat for five minutes. Add half the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve it sprinkled with the other half the cilantro. Beth Greenfeld.

Indian Rabbi in Israel blowing the shofar
Photograph courtesy of
Life Magazine -Your World in Pictures

May all of us be Listened to & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported in the coming year

Ben Sidran: Life’s A Lesson: Track: Avinu Malkeinu featuring Lynette


“Contrary to the belief of some, the Jews are a multiracial, multi-ethnic group. But it should not be surprising that Judaism’s 4,000-year-old creed spans geography as well as time, or that its message appeals to members of all races, on all continents.” ~Karen Primrack, Author, Under One Canopy


 The Jewish People embody a spectacular bouquet of cultural characteristics which enriches our lives immeasurably. 


 10 Tips Toward Racial & Cultural Sensitivity in the Jewish Community

1 ~ Reach out to other Jews across difference because you will find our commonalities exceed our differences by far.

2 ~ Do not assume that Jewish history and the current Jewish population is comprised most significantly of Jews of European culture ancestry.

3 ~ Consider that within the customs and traditions of the Jewish people, there is a great diversity of language, culture, custom and color. Be willing to reach for and stay connected to the diversity of the Jewish people.

4 ~ Do not assume that because a person has dark skin that they must be a convert. This is not necessarily true or fair to individuals that have been Jewish all of their lives.

5 ~ Learn to value the “inner” Jew in yourself so that you can better appreciate it in others.

6 ~ Get to know the customs and traditions of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and welcome this knowledge as a necessary component of your Jewish education.

7 ~ If you find a person’s journey around difference to be inspiring, be it their color, background, abilities, culture, traditions, etc., try not to limit your praise of them to their being “inspiring”.Tell them what about them inspires you specifically.

8 ~ Remember that it’s o.k. to be curious, but to become fascinated with a person because of an aspect of their physicality ALONE, is to turn that person into an object in your regard. Make efforts to make your relationships with people who are different than you, more than skin deep.

9 ~ Keep in mind that Jews of Color have a lot to offer the Jewish community, both in experience and perspective and should be welcomed to participate in all levels of Jewish social interaction, including leadership.

10 ~ Remember that denial is not just a river in Egypt (smile), it can also be an obstacle toward finding lasting solutions. When we sit with the things inside us that make us the most uncomfortable, we often find deeper truth and growth on the other side. ~Courtesy of Ayecha

Olam Echad! Hashem Echad! Ha’am Echad!

Lev Echad means One Heart in Hebrew and is symbolic of Jewish unity. We are allowed to think and observe differently than one another, but we must always act decently toward each other.

“One Love, One Heart. Let’s get together and feel all right.”


May all of us be listened to and embraced and welcomed and supported.

Shavuot, the Feast of the Weeks, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest season in Israel. Shavuot, which means “weeks”, refers to the timing of the festival which is held exactly 7 weeks after Passover. Shavuot also commemorates the anniversary of the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. The Book of Ruth is read during Shavuot. Ruth, a convert, was the model of Torah acceptance and the great-great-grandmother of King David.

King David, Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery, NACOEJ

Judaism has welcomed those who voluntarily become Jews and considers them full-fledged members of the Jewish community. The Hebrew Bible, as well as later Jewish texts, includes examples of such individuals. The most famous and honored example appears in the biblical book of Ruth, where Ruth joins the Jewish people and eventually becomes the great-great grandmother of King David, from whose descendants, according to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will come.

In our day, most Jews welcome wholeheartedly those who have chosen to become Jews. Nonetheless, some Jews-by-choice report occasional offensive comments directed toward them. Although the reasons for such attitudes are complicated, they are based on ignorance and prejudice and are by no means sanctioned by Judaism. As more and more Jews-by-choice enter the Jewish community, as we promote education about Jewish views of conversion and sensitivity to Jews-by-choice, and as public discussion of such a choice grows more commonplace, these negative views continue to fade.

THERE ARE NO “CONVERTS’ IN JUDAISM – ONLY JEWS (PDF) by Rabbi Moshe Ben Asher & Magidah Khulda bat Sarah

On Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy dairy food. Some say it harks back to King Solomon’s portrayal of the Torah as “honey and milk are under your tongue”


Ruth and Naomi, Painter He Qi
What a joyful swirl of humanity! The figures twine together so harmoniously you can hardly tell where either one of them begins and ends, even though each has its own distinctive colors. As it should be with a family. Harmony in Nature, with a glowing sun behind and green swaths beneath their feet.

Shavuot Foods Span a Myriad of Cultures

Ashkenazic: Hungarian blintzes, called palascinta, evolved as a first-cousin to the French crepe and became another popular food for Shavuot.

Beet borscht from Russia and the Ukraine, often served with sour cream, as well as cucumber soups, cheese pastries, strudel and schav – sorrel soup – are popular Shavuot foods.

Some families make challah for Shavuot with a ladder of dough on top to symbolize the giving of the Torah. Others add a set of tablets made from dough for the Ten Commandments.

Cheese kreplach became a specialty of Shavuot, according to Claudia Roden in “The Jewish Book of Jewish Food.” This stuffed pasta traveled from Venice, Italy in the 14th century to the Jews of Germany, along with other noodles which came from Italy. These evolved into lokshen kugel, dairy noodle pudding with cheese, also a holiday favorite.

In “The Sephardic Kitchen,” Rabbi Robert Sternberg writes that some Sephardim make a braided round loaf centerpiece called los siete cielos, the bread of the seven heavens, whose bread is referred to as el monte, representing Mount Sinai. The seven rings of dough surrounding the mount refer to the seven holy living spaces through which the soul ascends to heaven.

Yemenite Jews:
Because the Yemenite Jews from Southern Arabia do not consider themselves a part of either the Ashkenazim or Sephardim, they do not eat dairy foods on Shavuot and presume the children of Israel knew about kashrut while waiting for Moses. They do study Torah all night and in the morning, they eat malawach, a pancake bread, with something dairy.

For other Shavuot meals, they eat meat and pita or traditional Shabbat foods with their condiments – schug, the paste made with red peppers and spices; and hilbe, a paste made with fenugreek seeds.

Jews of Persia:
In her book, “Jewish Cooking from Boston to Baghdad,” Malvin W. Liebman uncovered some interesting research about Persian Jewish eating on Shavuot. She writes that the holiday symbolized the marriage of God and the people of Israel to the Jews of Persia, so they prepare for it like a wedding, serving grain and cereal dishes, fruits and sweets.

Iraqi Jews:
Kahee, a food made from a dough which has been rolled flat, buttered, folded into squares and fried then sprinkled with sugar on top, is eaten for Shavuot by Iraqi Jews.

Tunisian/Moroccan/Libyan Jews: Some Tunisian and Moroccan Jews eat a seven-layer cake called sieta cielos (seven heavens) for Shavuot. It represents the seven spheres of God, passed in order to present the Torah to Moses. Jews from Tripoli make various shaped wafers for Shavuot. Some like a ladder, others like a hand and others like two tablets.

Moroccan Jews recite the Kiddush on Shavuot eve they take a few pieces of Matza that they saved from Passover and break them into small pieces. They then make a mixture of honey and milk. Immediately after, they blend the Matza pieces into the mix. Everyone gets their own portion, savoring the taste of this Shavuot treat.

Syrian Jews: Atayef, a filled cheese pancake, and ruz ib asal, a baked rice pudding with honey and rose water, are traditional for Shavuot.

Kurdistan Jews: For Shavuot, Jews from Kurdistan prepare a ground wheat dish, cooked in sour milk and served with butter and flour dumplings.

Greek /Turkish/Balkan Jews: Greek and other Sephardic communities serve cheese pastries and pies and delicacies based on cheese, eggs, milk and yogurt for their main meals during Shavuot. They also bake special breads with symbols on the surface of the bread such as a mountain like Mount Sinai, tablets of law, a scroll with pointing hands, Jacob’s ladder, a well in the desert or a serpent. Roscas, sweet yeast bread rings, sometimes braided, called tsoureki in Greek, are also served with cheeses for Shavuot, along with bougatsa, a cheese-filled phyllo pastry.

Italian Jews:
Some Italian Jews eat dairy dishes for Shavuot plus a special Passover dish called matza cperta, a kind of omelet. They also take the last crumbs from the Pesach matzo and feed them to the fish on Shavuot. Tortelli dolci – cheese turnovers filled with ricotta cheese – are another favorite for the holiday.

Jews of Rhodes:
Elsie Manasce in her book, “Sephardic Culinary Traditions,” which pays tribute to the Sephardim who came from the Island of Rhodes, writes that on Shavuot men and boys stayed awake throughout the first night to study and chant songs in Hebrew and Ladin. In the morning, they were served bolelmas de espinaka, a savory spinach pastry; roskas, a hard, brown, crisp roll; soltac, a ground rice pudding; and cheddar-like kashkaval cheese.

Jews of Spain: For Shavuot, Jews of Spain baked cookies called “the peaks of Mount Sinai,” with walnut halves on top representing the asereth dibrot – Ten Commandments. They also made cookies in the shape of the Ten Commandments called “Moses’ biscuits,” which were given to children.

Cheesecake and Other Desserts: Matthew Goodman, author of “The Food Maven” column in The Forward, once wrote an article stating that he learned from British cookbook author, Evelyn Rose, that Jews first encountered cheesecake during the Greek occupation of then Palestine in the third century B.C.E.

Cheesecake was also a favorite of European Jews who made it with curd cheeses such as farmer’s cheese and pot cheese and flavored it with lemon rind.

Another form of Central and Eastern European cheese dessert is called rugelach, which is a nut and raisin crescent with cheese in the dough. Gil Marks, author of “The World of Jewish Desserts,” writes that popular desserts among European Jews include kaese fluden, a layered cheese pastry, also called Mount Sinai cake; smeteneh kuchen, a sour cream coffee cake; pirishkes, a half-moon shaped Ukrainian and Russian turnover filled with cheese; strudel filled with cheese; and zeesih lukshen kugel, a sweet dairy noodle pudding.
by Sybil Kaplan, author of “Kosher Kettle: International Adventures in Jewish Cooking” and six other kosher cookbooks.

May we come together as a heart centered community, building responsibility to each other and sustaining awakening¨*•ღ✫*¨*♥

Recognized in Israel as the 5th of Iyar on the Hebrew calendar, Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) marks the date on which Israel was declared a nation by the Israeli Knesset in 1948. For many North Americans, Yom Ha’atzmaut is a time for showing solidarity with Israel’s right to exist and its importance as a Jewish state. Celebrations are common in North American cities with large Jewish communities like New York, Los Angeles, and Vancouver Canada where the day takes on a festive air and is often marked by parades musical events and fairs.




Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) 2016 begins the evening of Wednesday, May 4 and ends in the evening of Thursday, May 5.

Yom_Hashoah_candleAt the rising of the sun and at its going down,
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

Ani Ma’amin
Also known as the ‘Varshever geto-lid fun frumer yidn’ (Song of religious Jews in the Warsaw ghetto), the song ‘Ani M’amin’ (I believe) takes its words from a prayer written in the 12th century by the great Judaic philosopher Moses ben Maimon (Maimonedes’/ acronymed Rambam for “Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon“). It is a declaration of faith and certainty that redemption will come in the form of the Messiah, even though he may delay. The song was sung by Jews as they rode on boxcars to the camps during the Holocaust. In the face 0f the most unspeakable horror, there was this majestic affirmation of hope.

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson
Ani maamin beemuna shlemah

B’viat hamashiach
V’af al pi sheyitmameha
Im kol zeh achake lo
B’chol yom sheyavo

I believe with a complete belief
In the coming of the Messiah
And even though he may tarry
I will wait for him whenever he comes.

 Personal photos from family visit to Dachau






Blacks During the Holocaust

We Remember the Afro-German Rhineland Children

agThere, but for the grace of God, go I… ~MochaJuden

Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further “race polluting”, as Hitler termed it.

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder.


Above: Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. On the right is presumably Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo, was the only black prisoner in Dachau.


Gert Schramm, born: November 28, 1928, Erfurt, Germany, Died: April 18, 2016, Erfurt, Germany, was a survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, where he was the only black prisoner. He was the son of a German woman and an African-American father and was arrested in violation of Nazi racial purity laws.


Interview in German. In a nutshell, he is saying he was born in 1928, illegitimate son of an African-American and a white German woman. His father perished probably in Auschwitz, while he himself survived the Concentration Camp of Buchenwald.

Blacks During the Holocaust

bwAbove: Nazi propaganda photo depicts friendship between an “Aryan” and a black woman. The caption states: “The result! A loss of racial pride.” Germany, prewar. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Article: In Germany’s extermination program for black Africans, a template for the Holocaust

l_d16c9f116563b85d875af487dd128c32Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945. In the 1890s Blacks were tortured in German concentration camps in Southwest Africa (now called Namibia) when Adolph Hitler was only a child. Colonial German doctors conducted unspeakable medical experiments on these emaciated helpless Africans. Thousands of Africans were massacred. Regrettably, historians neglected to properly register the slaughter—that is, to lift it from the footnote in history that it had been relegated to— until now.

NEVER AGAIN must remain more than a mere slogan!


Ahavat Tzion Presents These Songs of Freedom

Joint musical collaboration CD between BAI, Zion Baptist Church and Main Line Reform Temple.

“Contrary to the belief of some, the Jews are a multiracial, multi-ethnic group. But it should not be surprising that Judaism’s 4,000-year-old creed spans geography as well as time, or that its message appeals to members of all races, on all continents.” ~Karen Primrack, Author, Under One Canopy

The Seder Table – Artist Lynne Feldman

The scattering of the Jews around the world over thousands of years, to nearly every continent, has meant that these traditions have evolved and been adapted to different cultures and settings. Here are some Passover traditions from around the world.


Ethiopian Jewish women making Matzoh

Destroying Earthenware Dishes: The Jews of Ethiopia strongly identify with the story of Exodus — and indeed, the first of the famous airlifts that delivered them to Israel was actually called Operation Moses. In some Ethiopian families, the matriarch would destroy all of her earthenware dishes and make a new set to mark a true break with the past. Ethiopian Jews had no Haggadahs, and read about Exodus directly from the Bible. Matzahs were homemade, often from chickpea flour, and on the morning of the seder, a lamb would be slaughtered. They also refrained from eating fermented dairy like yogurt, butter, or cheese

Whipping Each Other with Scallions

Jews living in Afghanistan developed the tradition of using scallions or leeks to stand for the Egyptian slavedrivers’ whips, using them to lightly “whip” each others’ backs. Jews have lived in Afghanistan at least since the Babylonian conquest 2,000 years ago, but in 2004 only two Jews were left in the country. It is now estimated that only a single Jew lives in Afghanistan, as the other died in 2005. The largest group of Afghan Jews in the world is comprised of 200 families in Queens, New York.

Re-enacting Crossing the Red Sea

Moses Parts the Red Sea. Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery Project: NACOEJ

Hasidic Jews from the Polish town of Góra Kalwaria, known as Gerer Hasids, re-enact the crossing of the Red Sea on the seventh day of Passover by pouring water on the floor, lifting up their coats, and naming the towns that they would cross in their region of Poland. They raise a glass at each “town” and then thank God for helping them reach their destination.

Every Passover, Jews prepare charoset, a sweet paste that can be made with fruits like dates, figs, and apples. The result is meant to remind sedergoers of the mortar in the bricks that Jewish slaves in Egypt used in their labor. In the British territory of Gibraltar, a tiny peninsula off Spain where Jews have lived for about 650 years, there’s a special recipe for charoset: the dust of real bricks, ground up and mixed in.

Tapping Guests on the Head: In a custom that began in Spain in the fourteenth century, the seder leader walks around the table three times with the seder plate in hand, tapping it on the head of each guest. Many Moroccan, Turkish, and Tunisian Jews adopted this tradition, which is said to bless those whose heads are tapped. This is sometimes connected to the Talmudic custom of “uprooting” the seder plate so that guests might ask questions about the Jews in Egypt.

Telling the Exodus Story in Costume: In many Sephardic traditions, (a term used to describe Jews originally hailing from the Iberian peninsula and North Africa), an elder member of the family enacts a skit in costume, posing as an ancient Jew who experienced the exodus from Egypt and describing the miracles he saw. In the countries of the Caucasus region, Iraq, Kurdistan, Yemen, and others, the seder (usually the head of household), would put the afikoman matzah in a bag, throw it over his shoulder, and use a cane to support himself. Sometimes a child participated, and there was a call and response with the table: “Where are you coming from?” “Egypt,” was the reply, followed by the story of the Israelites following Moses out of slavery. “And where are you going?” someone at the table would ask. “Jerusalem!”

Breaking Matzah into Hebrew Letters:

In the Syrian community, the custom of breaking the middle matzah on the seder table into pieces (known as yachatz) can sometimes take on Kabbalistic meaning. Matzah broken into the shape of the Hebrew letters “daled” and “vav” correspond to numbers, which in turn add up to 10, representing the 10 holy emanations of God. Jews from North Africa, including from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Libya, break the matzoh into the shape of the Hebrew letter “hey,” which corresponds to the number five.

Inspecting Rice for Defects:  Jews have lived in Cochin, in the Indian state of Kerala, for 2,000 years. In the tiny community that remains, Passover preparation begins immediately after Hanukkah, about 100 days beforehand. After Purim, Cochin’s Jews scrub their house of chametz (bread and any fermented grain) and repaint them, keeping special Passover dishes in a separate room. Wells are drained and cleaned for fear of chametz, and every grain of rice is inspected for defects that might let impure chametz in. Jews usually maintain warm relations with the larger community, but during Passover and the preceding months, they keep entirely to themselves.


Many different customs surround the welcoming of the prophet Elijah, who is said to visit every seder. While Ashkenazi Jews (whose families came from Germany and later Eastern Europe) commonly leave a goblet of wine for the prophet, in Casablanca, Morocco, Jews would set up an elaborate chair with cushions and ornaments and leave it empty for Elijah’s arrival. And in Marrakesh, dishes are prepared using the wine from Elijah’s cup. Ashkenazi Jews often open the door to allow Elijah in, a tradition that wasn’t historically a part of the Sephardic practice.

Wearing White: Both Hasidic Jews and Moroccan Jews have the custom of wearing white to seder, possibly to signify joyfulness. Some Jews wear white on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, or on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, although this varies.

Displaying Gold and Silver Jewelry: Three passages in Exodus say that the Israelites received gold and silver from the Egyptians (for example, 12:35: “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing”). Accordingly, Hungarian Jews had a tradition of putting all of their gold and silver jewelry on the seder table.

Tossing Pebbles in the Ocean

Among Moroccan Jews, Mimouna is celebrated the day after Passover with a generous feast of baked goods. Some say it marks Maimonides’ birthday, while others link it to the Arabic word for luck. A table is heaped with items symbolizing luck or fertility, many repeating the number 5, such as dough with five fingerprint marks or five silver coins. Fig leaves, live fish, stalks of wheat, and honey might also be included. In some parts of the Moroccan Jewish community, Jews entered the ocean and tossed pebbles behind their backs to ward off evil spirits.  Original article here.

The Inside Story on Passover

In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.

Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, “Why change? How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Don’t you know who you are?”

Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds. But Freedom and the Promised Land are not static elements that lie in wait. They are your own achievements which you may create at any moment, in any thing that you do, simply by breaking free from whoever you were the day before.

Last Passover you may not have yet begun to light a candle. Or some other mitzvah still waits for you to fulfill its full potential. This year, defy Pharaoh and light up your world, with unbounded light!

EXODUS by Bob Marley

Open your eyes and look within: Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?
Exodus! Movement of Jah’s people


Guided visualization actually is reported not to work with about 10% of people, some of us are simply hard wired for different forms of spirituality. I mention this so those who have this difference won’t wear themselves out trying.
For those who can benefit from guided visualization it is a very powerful spiritual tool. Several major medical research centers have discovered that it can even be a tool for active healing (called psycho-neuro-immunology), although this meditation is primarily designed for shifting consciousness.
Be sure to read slowly, with feeling and honor all the pauses fully, they are very important elements…like rests between the notes of a score. #888888;”>

Go down Moses, Way down in Egypt land.
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!
Now when Israel was in Egypt land..Let My People Go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand…Let My People Go!
So the Lord said: ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land,
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!’
So Moses went to Egypt land…Let My People Go!
He made ole Pharaoh understand… Let My People Go!
Yes, the Lord said ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!
Thus spoke the Lord, bold Moses said: Let My People Go!
‘If not I’ll smite your firstborn’s dead’ Let My People Go!
Thus the Lord said ‘Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land
Tell ole Pharaoh to Let My People Go!’
Tell ole Pharaoh To Let My People Go

Moses in the Bulrushes by Mary Auld, Illustrated by Diana Mayo
Lavishly illustrated retelling of the Biblical story. Includes background information about the story, a useful word section and a section of questions to encourage further thought.


Ethiopian Jewish Embroidery-Making Matzoh for Passover – NACOEJ

~ May All Of Us Be Listened To & Embraced & Welcomed & Supported ~ 

Jews of Color is a pan-ethnic term that is used to identify Jews whose family origins are originally in African, Asian or Latin-American countries. Jews of Color may identify as Black, Latino/a, Asian-American or of mixed heritage such as biracial or multi-racial.

Due to several factors, Mizrachi and Sephardi Jews from North African and Arab lands vary in whether or not they self-identify as “Jews of Color.”


“The Jewish experience is built upon foundations of diversity as old as the Jewish people, a reality that may be lost to many Jews who tend to think of other Jews as being only like themselves. The historical home of the Jews lies at the geographic crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Jews are an amalgam of many peoples and Jewish origins include a multitude of languages, nations, tribes, and skin colors.” ~The History of Jewish Diversity/ Be’chol Lashon


The first show of its kind, Jews of Color explores the cultural and ethnic diversity of the Jewish community, sharing the unique perspectives of Jews from African-American, Asian, Hispanic and other non-”white” backgrounds. Defying our collective assumptions about what it means to be a Jew, and shedding light on perspectives that are too often ignored by the broader Jewish community, Jews of Color is not to be missed.

Featuring: host Joel Sanchez (Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services), Aliza Hausman (Blogger, “Memoirs of a Jewminicana”), Akira Ohiso (Author, “Survivor”), Yitz Jordan a.k.a. Y-Love (Rapper, Writer, Activist), and Yavilah McCoy (Jewish educator, Diversity Practitioner, and Founder of Ayecha Jewish Diversity Resources).

“The most powerful thing I want to happen in the Jewish community is that we gain more space of love for one another…”~Yavilah McCoy



Queen Esther ~ Painting by John Cox

Listen to: She Said No To The King! by Rabbi Rayzel Raphael and MIRAJ

Long, long ago, a poor young Jewish woman named Esther is chosen, Cinderella-style, to be the Queen of Persia. But while her new husband, King Ahasuerus, drinks, eats, and plays, his dastardly prime minister, Hamen, schemes.

Infuriated by Esther’s cousin Mordecai’s refusal to bow down before him (“I am a Jew,” said Mordecai, “and Jews do not bow down to human beings”), Hamen vows that Mordecai, along with every Jew in Persia, will be killed. Ahasuerus is too distracted by his card games to pay much attention to Hamen’s decree, so it is up to Esther to save her people. Risking all, she approaches her hot-tempered husband (who did not know until now that Esther herself is Jewish) to see what can be done. Luckily, Esther’s courage and cleverness prevail.

Twenty-five hundred years later, Jews all over the world still celebrate Purim, a noisy, lighthearted holiday to commemorate the days when sorrow turned into joy.

by Rita Golden Gelman, Brilliantly Illustrated by Frané Lessac

Happy Purim!


It is customary to prepare and enjoy a festive meal on Purim, complete with wine, challah, and dessert. The traditional Ashkenazi pastry for Purim is Hamantashen. Queen Esther foiled Haman’s plans to murder the kingdom’s Jews. The pastries look like either pockets or the hat of of Haman and symbolizes his deceitfulness. As you eat the pastry, you “destroy” Haman’s secret deceit.


8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/3 cups plus 4 teaspoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Various jams (raspberry, blackberry, apricot, or prepared fillings such as poppy seed or prune pastry filing)

Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar and mix for one minute longer, then egg, vanilla extract, orange zest and salt, mixing until combined. Finally, add the flour. The mixture should come together and be a tad sticky. If it feels too wet, add an additional tablespoon of flour.

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

To form the hamantaschen, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Using a round cookie cutter (3 inches is traditional, but very large; I used one that was 2 1/2 inches), cut the dough into circles. Spoon a teaspoon of you filling of choice in the center. Fold the dough in from three sides and firmly crimp the corners and give them a little twist to ensure they stay closed. Leave the filling mostly open in the center. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on racks. Resist the urge to try a still-hot one unless a jam-burnt tongue is as much of your Purim tradition as are these cookies. Enjoy! Freilichen Purim!



Purim Customs From Around the World: 

On Purim eve, torches containing gunpowder would be ignited. During the Megillah reading, the gunpowder exploded with a deafening noise. In one town in Germany, on the eve of Purim, two candles would be lit in the synagogue. One was called “Haman” and the other “Zeresh” (Haman’s wife). The candles were allowed to burn down completely, and were not extinguished. Thus should the haters of Israel be burnt. Doll-shaped cakes, called “Haman”, were also prepared. The children would cut off the doll’s head and eat it with great glee.

The youngsters would divide into two camps and throw nuts at each other. The adults rode through the streets of the town on horseback, with cypress branches in their hands. They also placed an effigy of Haman in a high place, and encircled it, to the sound of trumpets.

Children used to take smooth stones, write or engrave Haman’s name on them, and strike them together during the Megillah reading whenever Haman’s name was mentioned, in order to erase it, in compliance with the verse: “I shall surely wipe out the memory of Amalek”.

“Haman-shaped” cakes were baked on the eve of “Shabbat Zachor”, and placed on the window ledges until the festive Purim meal. During the meal, the cakes were sliced so that participants could fulfill the precept “And they shall devour Haman with open mouth”.

Many wax candles were lit for the Purim meal; children were invited to light the candles as on Hanukkah.

The young men rode through the Jewish street on horsebacks, camels and asses, in memory of the verse “and they brought him on horseback through the street of the city”.

The children prepared a large effigy of Haman, and filled its clothes with gunpowder. In the middle of the courtyard, they set up a large stick, from which they “hung” Haman. They then threw oil over the effigy and set it alight.

The men also participated in the great tumult, stamping their feet loudly during the Megillah reading.

All the schoolchildren participated in burning an effigy of Haman. The younger children made small “Hamans” out of paper, and the older children made a large “Haman” out of rags, old clothes and straw. All the townspeople gathered by the school. A large bonfire was prepared and everyone stood round it. By turn, all the children went up and threw the “Hamans” they had made into the fire. They then beat the burning “Haman” with special sticks that they had prepared in honor of Purim. After all the “Hamans” had been thrown on the fire, salt and sulfur were added. All the participants stood round the fire, hitting the burning Haman with sticks and shouting “Long live Mordechai, cursed be Haman, blessed be Esther, cursed be Zeresh”.

The youngsters threw an effigy of Haman into the fire and jumped over the fire, competing to see who could jump highest.

In Bukhara
The ground would usually be covered with snow at Purim time. A large snow-Haman was built next to the synagogue. This Haman had a funny-shaped torso, long thick legs, like an elephant’s, a large head, eyes of charcoal, a carrot for a nose, and a piece of beetroot for the mouth. A “gold chain” made out of water melon peels was hung over the stomach as a symbol of office, and a broken pot was placed on the head.

After the meal, the whole community gathered round the Haman. A large fire was made around it of wood, rags and paper, and they stood and watched until Haman melted in the heat and disappeared, singing until it was completely melted.

The women prepared blackened wood by the kitchen fire. When the men came home after the Megillah reading, they would ask, what’s this, and the women would reply: Haman. The men then said: “burn him”, and the wood was immediately thrown into the fire.

The children drew pictures of Haman on planks or cardboard. During the Megillah reading, the planks were thrown to the ground and trampled on, making a lot of noise. Wooden gloves (a kind of wooden sandals) were held in the hands and clapped together, also making a loud noise.

The synagogue carpets were taken up and the congregants trampled underneath them, in case Haman was hiding there.

Even before Purim, the children of the “Heder” would set up two sticks “lengthwise and crosswise”, like a kind of cross, cover them and declare in a loud voice: “Haman the wicked.” This is the source of the Yemenite Jewish saying: “In Adar – we put up Haman crosses”.

In the Yemenite town of Asaddeh, it was customary to make a large effigy of Haman out of rags. This Haman was placed on a donkey and led by the children from house to house. Each householder gave the children sweetmeats, and beat, spat or even threw dirty water over the Haman on the donkey.

In some places in Yemen, the children used to put a kind of scarecrow in a wooden cart with a horse. Two beads were stuck into its head for eyes, a beard was attached, and it was dressed in colorful tattered clothes, and adorned with a kind of absurd decoration. The children placed the scarecrow on a wooden horse and preceded it, calling out: “thus shall be done to the wicked Haman”.

On the eve of Purim, they dragged the cart through the streets shouting: “Haman”, and dancing and singing: Here comes Haman Riding a lame horse He burst and exploded, woe to his mother, Here she comes.

The “Haman” was then hung from a high tree in the courtyard of the synagogue, where it was “abused” and taunted. Stones and “arrows” were hurled at it until it was torn to shreds. In some places Haman’s cross was left until the end of Purim, and then taken down and burnt. It was covered with kerosene and set alight. The participants departed only when nothing was left but dust and ashes.

Compiled from:
“Purim”, a manual edited by the Center for Fostering Jewish Awareness;
“Purim”, teaching material edited by Y. Frishman;
“Hag ve-Moed”, Rivka Tzadik;
“Festivals and Holidays in Education”, Dr. Yehuda Bergman


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