April 10, 2008
New haggadahs bring fresh approaches to celebration
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Eybeshitz didn't write a specific commentary on the haggadah, but Hammer compiled this from his writings and other sources. This is the first time his work appears in English. This edition includes additional commentary by Hammer, an American-born teacher, radio commentator and lecturer, who lives in Israel.
"Haggadah for Jews & Buddhists: A Passover Ritual" (Modern Haggadah Distribution Co.) guides readers through the rituals of the seder in English, with some Hebrew prayers in transliteration. Rather than four sons, this haggadah speaks of four types of Jews who may be sharing in the seder: traditionalist, humanist, Buddhist and friend, a non-Jewish person.
From the Buddhist's perspective, "This seder is about sharing and reinforcing the essential truths that come from all spiritual paths. Every human being desires freedom from suffering. Having learned that it is possible to escape from suffering, we are called to participate in the healing and transformation of all humanity."
The Maggid section includes a teaching from the Dalai Lama on anger.
"The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah: Historical Introduction, Translation and Commentary," edited by Joseph Tabory (Jewish Publication Society), is a scholarly commentary tracing the historical development of the seder and haggadah. Although it's more a reading book than one to be used at the seder table, it does include the full haggadah text, with a new translation. Also included are illustrated pages reproduced from historical editions of the haggadah.
"Rejoice in Your Festivals: Penetrating Insights Into Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot," by Rabbi Zvi Dov Kanotopsky and edited by David A. Zomick (Urim), features previously unpublished sermons by a disciple of Rabbi Soloveitchik, which were written at historic moments in the 1940s and 1950s. His accessible and inspiring style makes these teachings valuable in preparing for conversation around the seder table.
To bring the stories of the women of the Exodus to the table, "Moses' Women," by Shera Aranoff Tuchman and Sandra E. Rapoport (Ktav), offers much wisdom drawn from traditional midrashic and rabbinic sources. The authors bring depth to the personalities of Moses' mother, Yocheved; his sister, Miriam; Batya, Pharaoh's daughter who found him in the Nile; his wife, Zipporah; and a mysterious Kushite woman.
While these biblical women rarely speak in the text, the authors tease out their key roles in Moses' life as prophet, leader and lawgiver. Tuchman, a practicing dermatologist, has been teaching weekly courses at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun in Manhattan for the last 15 years. She met her co-author, Rapoport, a lawyer turned writer, in the class.
For the youngest at the seder, "Let My People Go," by Tina Balsey, illustrated in color by Ilene Richard (Kar-Ben), is a charming, rhyming retelling of the Passover story, which can be read as a theater script with five roles.
"Cuisine connects us to our past, and encoded in our recipes are our family stories and history, a reminder of those who we have lost and traditions that remain fragile," Jayne Cohen writes in "Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lover's Treasury of Classics and Improvisations" (Wiley).
Cohen, the author of two previous books on Jewish cooking and celebrations, offers traditional foods, updated versions and many imaginative and elegant dishes, with helpful suggestions, explanations of Jewish tradition and stories drawn from the author's culinary adventures.
Among the almost 300 recipes are six variations on matzah brie, along with nine different Passover menus. Her Passover recipes, filled with the color and fragrance of springtime, include artichoke soup with herbed matzah balls, snapper filets in pistachio-matzah crust, braised brisket with 36 cloves of garlic, salad of bitter herbs and oranges, wild mushroom potato kugel and upside-down apricot hazelnut torte.
In the fifth in her "Kosher by Design" cookbook series, Susie Fishbein features contemporary recipes, artfully presented. Illustrated with full-color photographs, "Passover by Design: Picture-Perfect Kosher by Design Recipes for the Holiday" (Artscroll/Sha'ar Press) includes more than 130 recipes from Fishbein's other books, adjusted for Passover use, along with 30 new recipes and suggestions for inventive ways of serving at the seder.
For an alternative to gefilte fish, she offers salmon tataki, salmon wrapped in a collar of daikon radish and topped with mashed cauliflower. Instead of stuffed cabbage, steamed sea bass in savoy cabbage might be a choice.
She also prepares chicken livers with caramelized onions and red wine, spinach matzah balls, chardonnay poached salmon and white chocolate mousse in chocolate boxes.
Sandee Brawarsky is book critic for The Jewish Week.
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