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Pesach for the Rest of Us: Making the Passover Seder Your Ownby Marge Piercy
Synopses & Reviews
Every year, poet and novelist Marge Piercy creates her own Passover seder with a group of family and friends. Babies have been born and grown up, friends have moved or divorced, but the principals continue to gather in her rustic Cape Cod home to participate in a seder that Piercy takes joy in tweaking each spring to make it more meaningful. In this journey through the ritual, Piercy coaxes us toward “a significant contemporary interpretation, rather than an emphasis on what is strictly ‘correct or traditional.” She reminisces about her grandmother, who thought herself unworthy to lead a seder because of her limited Hebrew but presided “morally” at the table; she urges adding an orange to the seder plate; she even describes her heroic efforts to make her own gefilte fish (an experiment not to be repeated).
Piercy offers her distinct slant on each element of the feast and provides dozens of her own wonderful recipes, which she delivers in the same warm, commanding voice as is heard in her poems and prose: “When I told Ira that I was going to explain how to cook matzoh brei, he thought I was crazy. Everybody knows how to make matzoh brei, he said. But I am of the opinion that there is no longer anything that everybody knows how to cook.”
It is in that spirit-no question too simple-that Piercy welcomes readers to her kind of seder: a homemade and personal affair, the kind we all wish we could attend. This charming and instructive book of Passover wisdom, brimming with favorite dishes and Marge Piercys own moving Passover poems and blessings, invites us to look at an important Jewish ritual in a whole new way.
"The traditional Passover seder is dissected, reinterpreted and given a contemporary and feminist bent in Piercy's guidebook to making the haggadah more readable and meaningful to today's unaffiliated Jews. Novelist Piercy confesses that her own Passover preparations are 'heavy on the convenient'; for example, she will use the prohibited sunflower oil to make her dishes tasty. She wants to focus instead on what brings resonance to her observance of the holiday, like adding the Cup of Miriam to her seder table and including a Fifth Child in remembrance of those murdered during the Holocaust. Nearly every page reminds readers to change parts of the seder as they see fit, though traditionalists may feel that this approach belittles the traditional seder. Throughout are Piercy's poems recognizing many aspects of the seder; her own slightly sloppy rendition of traditional blessings into the feminine Hebrew; and ideas on how to create one's own English prayers. Memories of her Grandmother Hannah's Pesach segue into old-time recipes of the holiday's traditional foods, and an entire chapter is dedicated to mouthwatering recipes that can be used for the main meal. Some tangents in this conversational guide seem gratuitous, while others — including histories of the origins of wine, horseradish and other seder foods — are fascinating." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Discussing each element of the seder in terms of symbolism, tradition, variation, and preparation, Piercy offers a warm and welcoming guide to creating a meaningful Passover.
About the Author
Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels, including Gone to Soldiers; He, She and It; and, most recently, Sex Wars; seventeen volumes of poetry, including The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme and, most recently, The Crooked Inheritance; and a memoir, Sleeping with Cats. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, the publisher and novelist Ira Wood.
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