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By Dr. Barbara Mann | Simon H. Fabian Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature, JTS


Ze’ev Raban, שיר השירים, Berlin, 1923
Image courtesy of The Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary (BS1482 .R3 1923)

(This year, the Song of Songs is read on the last day of Passover. This plate refers to Song of Songs 4:1–6.)

The Song of Songs is an essential text for modern Hebrew culture, and was perhaps the most beloved biblical book of modernist authors such as S. Y.

By Dr. Joseph Lukinsky | Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education, JTS


Every time you eat a latke or a sufganiah (jelly doughnut in Israel) during Hanukkah, you are reenacting the miracle of the cruse of oil that the Maccabees found when they struggled to rededicate the Temple. There was only enough oil for one day, but it lasted for eight! A little oil goes a long way!

Yes, I know that historians have questioned the authenticity of the story of the miracle of the oil (Bavli Shabbat 21B). Many Israelis and others prefer the historical account of the Maccabees' heroic victory as a model for Jewish needs today. Who would deny the importance of that?

By Rabbi David Hoffman | Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics and Scholar-in-Residence in the Department of Development


This Friday evening we will gather with family and friends. We will sit down to beautifully set tables, and each of us will open one of the most popular and well-known of Hebrew books—the Haggadah. The name of the book comes from the Hebrew verb lehagid (“to tell”), and if we were to translate “haggadah” into English, it would be “the telling.” Not surprisingly, the core of the Haggadah is the section called maggid, a word that also derives from the Hebrew root meaning “to tell.” Clearly these two forms of the verb lehagid communicate the centrality of the activity of “telling” on this night.

By Professor Arnold M. Eisen | Chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary


My personal preparation for Passover has for several years included conversations with teens and college students about what the holiday means to them and their families. My informants this year—a small and wholly unscientific sample of students at JTS’s Prozdor high school program—told me the same thing I have heard in previous years about the way their families celebrate the holiday: that the highlight of the seder is that it is held rather than what is said around the table. The family gathers, which is great; the family exhibits all its trademark affection, tensions, and mishegas, which




אסתר ד:יד
כִּי אִם-הַחֲרֵשׁ תַּחֲרִישִׁי בָּעֵת הַזֹּאת רֶוַח וְהַצָּלָה יַעֲמוֹד לַיְּהוּדִים מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר וְאַתְּ וּבֵית-אָבִיךְ תֹּאבֵדוּ וּמִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם-לְעֵת כָּזֹאת הִגַּעַתְּ לַמַּלְכוּת:


Esther 4:14
For if you stay silent at this time, then relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish; and who knows if you have come to royalty for such a time as this?