Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Miriam’s Cup

March 29, 2010

Miriam’s Cup – A Ritual for Women/A Ritual for Us All
Tomado de United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism

The Passover haggadah is one of the most widely dispersed and read of all Jewish texts. Ironically, the story leading up to the Exodus from slavery contains one of the most femalerich narratives in the Bible, yet the haggadah is devoid of a single female personality; Joheved, Miriam, Shifra, Puah, and Pharaoh’s daughter never appear in its pages.

To provide women with a place in the Passover ritual, many households have begun to place kos Miryam, Miriam’s cup, on the seder table beside the cup of Elijah. It is a reminder of the midrashic tale of Miriam’s well, a miraculous source of water in the desert. As a symbol of women’s presence at the exodus, the kos Miryam reflects a contemporary desire for the inclusion of all Jews at the seder.

Miriam’s cup is an evolving ritual. Some fill it at the beginning of the seder, others after the 10 plagues are read before dayyenu. Others use it in conjunction with Elijah’s cup at the end of the evening. It may be passed around for everyone to take a sip, or pour its contents into individual glasses. Whatever your preference, Miriam’s cup provides a thoughtful ritual to enhance your celebration.

For ideas on crafting your own kos Miryam, creating a women’s seder, and other seder enhancements, go to the Women’s League website,


March 26, 2010

It is hard to think of another classic Jewish text reprinted, rewritten, and re-imagined as often, or as divergently, as the Haggadah. The Passover Seder is the most ubiquitous Jewish observance—fully three-quarters of American Jews participate in a Seder of some kind, as do 80–95 percent of Israelis. The abundance of Haggadot, in other words, reflects the ubiquity of the observance.

Of course, the Haggadah has long been a mirror of Jewish history. Once its text had stabilized by the dawn of the Middle Ages, it became the object of lavish and continuing attention on the part of commentators, illuminators, illustrators, and translators. The advent of printing made it even more available and even more open to interpretation. Because the basic text and structure have remained more or less in place, the many versions offer snapshots of their times and places.

Today that historical diversity is in overdrive. The number of new Haggadot produced every year is overwhelming. Even more dazzling, or dizzying, is the range of perspectives they exhibit: rabbinic, academic, New Age, feminist, ecological, neo-Hasidic, and on and on.

Through the Haggadah and the Seder, wrote the late Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, “the memory of the nation is annually revived and replenished, and the collective hope sustained.” Yet precisely that sense of the collective, not to mention its celebration, seems absent from many of today’s Haggadot, even the best of them. Instead, the journey of Passover is increasingly, intensely, presented as personal and subjective. Here again the Haggadah serves as a mirror of the times.

If today’s radically diverse Haggadot seem to strain Jewish collectivity to the breaking point, will tomorrow’s witness a rebound? There are grounds for hoping so, provided the shared center holds: the calendar, the set of practices, and the old text itself, read, interpreted, reinterpreted, and then read—and sung—once again.