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Alternative Jewish Holiday Toolkits
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One of my long-term goals is providing resources that seem necessary. In the case of alternative Jewish rituals, this is important to me, both for the sake of presenting alternatives to ways of prayer that may not seem appropriate today, and in presenting the Hebrew necessary for continuity with tradition. It has been a slow process. Time is seldom available, and the list of documents grows slowly.
On the other hand, we're in the here and now, and these toolkits and resources are right here. Enjoy! Most of these documents are in Adobe Acrobat format.
I have long felt that the Kaddish has a rhythm to it that matters. In creating a pdf, I focused on supporting that rhythm and making it easier for folks who aren't as familiar with the Aramaic to follow. This version follows the Reconstructionist wording that my synagogue uses.
Every year we walk into the sukkah with our lulav and esrog (or etrog, for non-Ashkenazi peoples) and go, 'so, nu, now that we've finished the honeycake, what now?' Finally, I compiled a few of the basic blessings that go with fulfilling the mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah. If you put this on the East side of your Sukkah ("Mizrakh" being Hebrew for "east"), you'll also be properly aligned to follow the instructions for "benching" (or davenning, or praying) with the lulav and esrog. Now, if it just stops raining, all will be well. Like all recent toolkits, this was composed using Unicode, so feel free to cut and paste Hebrew or English from the PDF using the editing tool of your choice if you'd like to create variants.
There is also a bare-bones Hanuka Toolkit with traditional and non-traditional Hebrew of the basic three blessings for lighting the candles. I held this one off for years, always meaning to at least add "Ha-nerot halalu" and "maoz tzur." Maybe with version 2?
The first toolkit ever, is this Tu B'Shvat Seder. The original text was based on a seder created by a friend many years ago. At the time I created the toolkit, finding Tu B'Shvat seder texts was difficult. I hope this is a good place to start. Version 1.2 was uploaded on 1/20/98.
I still haven't managed to do well by my Passover Hagaddah, developed by friends and me in New Jewish Agenda. It is still mostly in ASCII form. The text hasn't changed substantially in 10 years (other than the names of the struggles we mention at the end). This still feels good as a Jewish, leftist telling of the story. Please feel free to use bits in your own seders (and let me know of your own online hagadahs). For Passover 5765 (2005) I reworked the little Hebrew into Unicode that there is so that it should be possible to cut and paste into a Hebrew-savvy, Unicode-compliant word processor. This is version 0.2, which tells you how complete I feel the Hebrew is.
But wait, there's more! Why do we put an orange on our seder plates? This one-page PDF (100K) provides some of the answers, last updated for Pesach 5761. For some of the steps along coming up with this definitive version, see correspondence with a friend back in 1998.
Did Pat and I feel that we had the definitive version back then? How silly. My friend, Abbe Don, who is also one of the world's best storytellers (among many talents), posted this summary, this year (1999) on the WELL, whose Jewish discussion area I co-founded, and is the oldest, moderated Jewish community on the internet (but not nearly so old as, say, soc.culture.jewish, which is not moderated). I have added reference info for the books she cites, so you can follow up further:
Having gotten this far, Susannah Heschel e-mailed me in 2000, with her own explanation:
We continue to celebrate the seder with an orange on our sederplate. For me, it is a counter to the extra matzo which we placed on seder plates starting in the late Sixties, to remind us of those who wished to participate, but were prevented by antisemitic governments, such as that of the former USSR. Today, we also look around us and consider those who are not allowed to participate--starting, of course, with gays and lesbians, but continuing, as Professor Heschel notes, much further. In this way, as we retell the story of our exodus from Egypt, we also consider the narrow waters--the mei tzarim of our own time.
Adobe Acrobat is a nifty product that lets me set up layout and use fonts and graphics that you might now have, and pass the whole thing on as an integrated whole. I try not to use it when the content is the point of the page--a standard web page, for instance, but for Hebrew, Yiddish, and just plain fun with typography, there is no substitute. The Acrobat Reader is free, and there are versions available for most common computing platforms. [back]
footnote to "Orange on the Seder Plate
"Here's my account of S's account of Susannah's account" (This is my friend imagining what happened, from the perspective of what we knew in 1998):
"There you have it."
… and those who know the original Rebecca Alpert story can see the direct parallels and return of the original (rebetzin to Alpert) punch line. [back to main text]
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This page is maintained by Ari Davidow, email@example.com. Last modified Apr 4, 2007.