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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash


Updated: Apr 9

Hi Everyone!

A different sort of post this week. I want to introduce you to ANU, the community Haggadah that we have been working on for months now.

Long ago, when I worked at synagogues, I used to organize a program called The Creative Seder. At the Creative Seders I would ask each family to come prepared to present one small aspect of the seder. The performances were wonderful. Each family presented according to their comfort level. Some performances were art based, some theatrical while other families read pieces they had written.

A few months ago I thought that this concept of the Creative Seder could possibly work in written form as a Haggadah. I put a call out to people I know...people I knew from years of day school work, Hebrew School work, and artists in the Greater Boston area. I tried to reach at different stages of their lives.To my delight, the response was overwhelming. There are over seventy people who have in some way contributed to ANU, from a five year old to a ninety five year old. There are recipes, film reviews, personal recollections from Passover seders in different communities. There are divrei torah, there is music, poetry and there is beautiful art. Some entries will make you laugh and many carry the circumstances of the past six months heavy in their hearts. I am in awe of ANU. I want to spend this week and next week's posts to share parts of ANU with you. I hope these entries will speak to you as they speak to me.

We are printing ANU over the next few days. If you get back to me by tomorrow, perhaps I can print you a copy. Next week, all being well, I will happily share more from this special haggadah, ANU: A Chorus of Many Voices.

Last, but not least, I want to express gratitude to the participants in ANU. The voices and the artists They make ANU sing out.

As we enter into this month of Nisan, this month of freedom, I pray for peace and good news soon.

Chodesh Tov,



The cover of ANU, A Chorus of Many Voices and the book form was designed by Amy Weiss.


A post written by M.A. on Passover in Egypt in the 1960s

In Every Generation

Pessah was always anticipated with great joy and trepidation. The walls of the kitchen had been scrubbed, the drapes washed and pressed, the smell of bleach lingered in the air and the Holy Days of spring were almost here.

It was the sixties, in Egypt, yes that very same Egypt of the Haggadah.  It was prior to the Six Day War. I was in my teens. A new pharaoh had come to power and just like his predecessors, he hated the Jews and viciously maligned them. I painfully remember the caricatures showing a mean looking Jew as a midget with a big nose, and on top of him was the enormous boot of the brave Arab soldier, pressing on his neck, ready to crush him at any time. For a brief moment, that would be forgotten: The nights of the Seder were here, and we were getting together with the dwindling fragments of the family, to obliviously sing our happy prayers of old.

The highlight of the Seder was reenacting our hurried departure long ago, by wrapping 3 matzot in a towel and carrying this light bundle of our worldly possessions. Taking turns, each one would put it on his left shoulder, the leader would ask him: Ga’y menen? Where are you coming from? Min Mitzrayim, from Egypt. U rayech fein? And where are you going? You would shift the bundle to the right shoulder and answer: To Yerushalayim. He would then wish you: B’ezrat H’ u’beshuato, with God’s help and His salvation

Then came the prayer of “Ha Lachma Aniya”, this is the bread of affliction, chanted with great fervor, with every one loudly joining in,  more or less in harmony. That melody would stay with me for months afterward. Actually, it is still with me today, and, thank you H’, it is also with the next generation.

A few painful years later, as with our ancestors, our time to depart longingly arrived. We now had real bundles to pack; what to take, what to leave. We did escape the grip of our oppressors but not before receiving a parting whip from them: I could not take my Tefilin with me. It would have been too dangerous, because when our bundles would be searched,  the Tefilin could be suspected of hiding diamonds and risk canceling our departure.

Leaving Tefilin behind along with some dear ones and dear things, we came out. In time, I got new Tefilin, and I am glad to see that they too contain not just diamonds but an everlasting gift of freedom and unwavering purpose.

Happy Passover to us all!

I was born in Egypt in 1952 and spent the first eighteen years of my life there. It was a turbulent period of oppression and outright persecution that finally squeezed out the last few trickles of Egyptian Jewry out of there. My family and I were fortunate enough to come to the United States where we were received with open arms and helped restart a new life. As Jews everywhere, we were helped by the generosity of the local Jewish community to whom we are forever grateful.


A poem on the Shehecheyanu blessing by poet Deborah Leipziger

Shehecheyanu Blessing


Blessed are you

Guardian of the universe

who has given us imagination

hope and courage

born from our ancestors

born from our children

as we open a new chapter for the Earth.

Deborah Leipziger is an author, poet, and advisor on sustainability. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on sustainability and human rights. Her collection of poems, Story & Bone, was published in 2023 by Lily Poetry Review Books. Her work appears in numerous anthologies, including Tree Lines: 21st Century American Poems. Her poems have been published in nine countries including in Pensive, Salamander, Pangyrus, and Revista Cardenal. Deborah is a 2023-2024 Community Creative Fellow selected by the Jewish Arts Collaborative. She is currently the Poet-in-Residence at the Vilna Shul.


A video shared by Levi Gershkowitz on the healing properties of water, as we wash twice

during the Passover Seder:

Levi George Gershkowitz is a photographer, musician and improvisational dancer, living on and farming land in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts with a profound love for the holy in nature.


A Recipe for Charoset Designed by Chef Eli Kozukhin

Yemenite/Sephardic Charoset


2 cups dried figs – stemmed, diced

2 cups dried dates – pitted, diced

2 cups dried apricots – diced

4 cups red wine (any variety that speaks to you)

2 oranges – zest and juice

½ cup za’atar herb (or thyme if unable to find, do not use a spice blend) – chopped fine

2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp cayenne pepper

½ cup honey

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 cup toasted walnuts – coarsely chopped



-          In a small pot, bring the wine and honey to a simmer and whisk. Do not boil. In a bowl large enough to give the fruit room to expand, pour the hot liquid over the diced figs, apricots, and dates. Cover and let sit for a minimum of 2 hours.

-          Strain the mixture, but reserve the remaining honey-wine. ( It is delicious and you don’t want to waste it!)

-          In a food processor, pulse the fruit mixture, adding the honey-wine slowly until the mixture is slightly chunky (you will not need all of the wine, approximately half, you don’t want it to be so wet that it won’t stick together). Any remaining wine, you can drink!

-          Remove this mixture into a large mixing bowl, and add the orange zest/juice, za’atar, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar to the mixture and mix by hand until well incorporated.

-          Finally, mix the chopped walnuts into the charoset and serve as is

 – !!Or!! –

For an interesting presentation at the seder table, rather than mixing the chopped walnuts into the charoset, hand-roll small balls of charoset and roll them in the chopped walnuts to create ‘charoset truffles’ (you will need more walnuts for this, approximately 2 cups total)

Eli Kozukhin was born in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States with his family at a young age. He developed an affinity for cooking and world cuisines, and attended Johnson & Wales University for culinary arts. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and potbelly pig, and works as the Executive Chef de Cuisine at Johnny's Tavern in Amherst.


A post on Elijah the Prophet by Soreh Ruffman

Soreh Ruffman is an educator and community organizer, with a background in trauma and disability informed special education, embodied Jewish ritual, sustainable Jewish farming and transformative justice. Soreh has the great privilege of leading the programming and immersions at Mayyim Hayyim. For this Haggadah contribution, Soreh was inspired by Elijah's ever-present support, his insightful wisdom and his undying commitment to helping us Jews in times of need.

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