Pesach at BHA 5774/2014

Passover, the Jewish celebration of liberation, is coming. Soon.

It begins on the 15th day of the Jewish month of Nissan, which this year, falls on the evening of Monday, April 14, so many people will be taking part in seders on April 14 and 15.

At the practical level, the hallmark of the holiday is the Seder, in which Jews discuss the liberation and its meaning for today. Traditionally, Jews also traditionally refrain from any leavened bread for the eight days of Passover, as a way of reliving the story of the liberated slaves, who fled Egypt so quickly that their bread didn’t have a chance to rise.  That means getting every crumb of bread out the house, closet, car and more. Its sort of a spiritual spring-cleaning. For folks who want to get down and dirty (er… clean), here’s our guide to cleaning for Pesach without going completely crazy

Welcome to Beacon Hebrew Alliance

It’s not about getting the choreography right.

It’s not about who you married or didn’t.
It’s not about a nostalgia trip.
Beacon Hebrew Alliance is about going deep into the richness of the Jewish spiritual tradition, deep into our own souls, deep into community and growing from what we find there.  It’s a Judaism to nourish the mind and the soul. You can read about what's going on at BHA in the posts below, or check our our calendar for upcoming events. 


Pesach Around the World was out of this world!!!!

Jewish Culture:  Tarbut--תרבות:  How do you define it?  How do you teach it?  
In February and March, we decided to concentrate on Passover as a theme for teaching the children about different aspects of Jewish culture.  Since there is so much to show and learn and discuss and experience, we narrowed the scope of the project into three subjects:

 1) Theatre--creating a Passover פםח play.  

Debbie Broshi, a creative new teacher to our school, took on the formidable project of creating a short but meaningful play about the Exodus from Egypt.  Many of the children in her group helped her in creatively presenting what was important to them from the Passover story, from suggestions to the script, to creating commercial breaks, to costuming and props.  They all created an absolutely wonderful and often hilarious interpretation of the Pesach story.  

 2) Music, dance, and art--talking about our own heritage and learning songs and dances that related to it.  

Ori Alon and I worked with this group.  Each child asked her (only girls in this group) family about their origins, and returned with a whole list of different countries, which made for very interesting discussions. Besides discussing our family trees, we taught them the Dayyenu song and a dance that they can do while singing it and a Yemenite dance called Harishut.  We played music from Turkey, Iraq, Ethiopia, and Bulgaria for them to listen to and improvise dance steps.  For an art project, several of the children chose to illustrate the Passover story from a Jewish slave's perspective, imagining what they were saying to themselves as all of the events were happening.  Another pair chose to write poetry about the story of the Exodus.  

It's hard to know what to do with the wretched of the earth

It's hard to know what to do with the wretched of the earth.

Sometimes, our strongest impulse is to draw them close and tend their wounds. We who are comfortable, see those who endure suffering in our lives and around the world and want to right every wrong they endure. Sometimes, we really do want to throw open our doors and invite all who are hungry to come and eat.

Other times, however, we don't. We are overwhelmed by the suffering which the unlucky endure. We see the homeless and the sick and we want to keep our distance from the painful disorder of their lives. Their suffering reminds us that our comfortable lives could be overturned in a moment and so we prefer to keep that disturbing idea at arm's length.

The rabbis of the Talmud however, recognize these contradictory impulses of compassion and disgust when they consider the leper who must be put outside the camp, certainly one of the most wretched characters of the Torah. Last week's and this week's readings of Tazria and Metzora are full of characters who suffer from frightful skin diseases, and suggests all manner of incantations and salves and offerings to rehabilitate these unfortunate characters, but ultimately the vilest of them have to leave society and live outside the camp, away from everyone else.

A Full Hearted Community

The second half of the book of Exodus is given over to descriptions of how the Israelites constantly needed to break down the mishkan - the portable tabernacle that was the center of their community and then build it back up.

It was a tremendous effort to set up the mishkan - the Levites had to set up a massive tent, screens, lamps, altars and more. It was by building and rebuilding the mishkan that the Israellites became people among whom the Holy One could dwelll.

It took a lot of hands to establish this sacred space - it took people with full hearts and willing hands to make a tabernacle where the divine could dwell.


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