top of page
  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

More Selections From ANU: A Haggadah of Many Voices

Hello Everyone,

Here are a few more posts from ANU. I hope to do one or two more posts over the next week so that you can read more from the talented, earnest and inspired people who are the voices of ANU.

May we hear good news soon.



There are so many interesting and wonderful posts in ANU. I am sharing more this week with the hope that perhaps some of the selections might add to your seder.

Three of the submissions to ANU are audiovisual. One, the video on water for N'tiylat Yadayim, (hand washing), I shared last week. The video posted today comes from Kibbutz Ketura, located in the south of Israel, where Adva lives. Adva loves to sing and is a often a leader of Shabbat tefillot on the kibbutz. In this video she sings part of Hallel* with Rabbi Sara Cohen, a rabbi who serves the kibbutzim in the area Eilot area. I hope the post helps all of us capture the kavannah (intention) that Adva has as she approaches prayer.


Also, as part of Hallel, psalms of praise, artist Elana Stone created this image.

Artist Note: Elena Stone

In my Hallel image, a young girl looks out at a turbulent yet ever-beautiful natural world,

and sings her praise, communion and gratitude. The initial inspiration for the piece was

my childhood enchantment with Psalm 114, which had me giggling every seder at the

thought of mountains and hills skipping like lambs and rams, and seas and rivers fleeing

and running backwards. I was far too young to contemplate the meaning of the imagery,

let alone the mysterious alchemy of boulder and flint becoming a pool and a fountain of

water. But something in the latter idea deeply captured my imagination, and it stuck.

Decades later, I became enamored of a feminist anthem by Holly Near called “The Rock

Will Wear Away”, and while working on this illustration, the memory of its chorus kept

resurfacing: “Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone/ Splashing, breaking,

dispersing in air/ Weaker than the stone by far but be aware/ That as time goes by the

rock will wear away.” While not a perfect analogy to the psalm, these lyrics draw on the

same archetypal awareness: that the hardness and immutability of rock can yield to the

soft power of water, if not through supernatural transformation, then through the natural

course of erosion as water exerts its force over time.

In her poem “The Stone’s Hallelujah”, my friend Debra Cash writes evocatively of the

courage to pick up a rock and throw it as a metaphor for fully committing ourselves to

the pursuit of freedom. My visual contribution flows from the call to “be like drops of

water”, finding strength in vulnerability, connection and kinship with the earth. Both

types of power are needed. But even as they complement each other, the Hallel offers a

third essential element: the inspiration, gratitude and joy that comes from deep

connection with the Source of life. In our time of profound instability and planetary

crisis, may we all walk in this strength and wisdom.

And paired poem by Debra Cash

The Stone’s Hallelujah

“The stone the builders rejected has become the corner stone”

tired of building crypts, temples, pyramids stone laddering the sky like a crag

containing swaddled bone and petrified flesh like a jar closed against weevils

the stone the builders rejected can be thrown

to shatter light thrown in the dark to change


as it is written

“rock dissolves to pools of water; flint spews, a fountain.”

Debra Cash

Poet's Note: Debra Cash

Hallel, the song that thanks The Divine, describes radical, even violent, transformation.

It is a song of getting unstuck, a picture of a world where every element of the natural world is in motion: the poor raised from dirt to sit with nobles, the barren to be surrounded by their dreamed-for children, the sea turning against its original direction and mountains and hills losing their stability to tremble and jump like goats and lambs. In its complete traditional version (Psalms 113-118) Hallel affirms that grief will be replaced with tranquility, the fear of death and disaster with confidence and gratitude for Divine protection.

It is a song of instability and remaking. The most radical transformation affirms the unexpected transformation of stone to water. Who turns the boulder into a pond of water, the flint into a fountain. (Ps. 114) The earth, separated from the water at the very dawn of creation is no longer still but flowing, permeable. The stone that was left by the builders has become the cornerstone (Ps.118:22): rejected material is honored and recognized as


Yet Hallel does not come to the passive. It demands effort, an act of self-liberation. In my poetic rendering, the stone can be, must be thrown, just as the people had to choose to step into the water and travel across dry land until they reached the opposite shore.

In the Temple, it is said, Hallel was antiphonal, a song of call and response, a song that establishes a pattern and then is reflected in a changed, communal voice. In the Hallel, we are required to raise our voices to praise the miraculous change that is freedom.

Debra Cash


As we go forward in the seder we get to the words my family knows well, Va'yochluhu "And they shall eat." Follows is a piece of artwork by Ellen Krueger, to illustrate that important part of the seder, the festive meal.

Vayochluchu: And You Shall Eat

A Series of Haikus by Ellen Krueger

Mom made gefilte.

Chicken soup with matzo balls.

Sponge cake and compote.

No recipes there.

She just cooked and I watched her.

Osmosis learning. 

Twelve dozen fresh eggs

From great uncle’s chicken farm

Were used up that week.

Today, fish is jarred.

But soup and kneidles are mine.

I learned what she taught.

Kitchen aromas 

Build up anticipation.

A Jewish Siren.

Seder is sens’ry.

Hagaddah is the guide to


Old recipe cards.

Yellowed, stained newspaper scraps. 

Sisterhood cookbooks

They make the seder.

Fond memories for us all.

For generations.


And one last one for today. If you make it to the end of the Seder, you find the songs that are the most fun. One of these is Adir Hu, where we find many ways to bless God. It is late and either you're having so much fun singing these songs or you are already tucked away into bed for the night. If you are still awake, this piece written by Lisa Berman is for you.

Adir Hu

It is getting late. It may already be late. The little ones are asleep. But we

get a second, a third wind to sing Adir Hu. In its major key and with its

upbeat feel, we perk up for a little bit longer, leaning in amidst its joyful


There is an urgency to Adir Hu in its words and rhythm. We sing, “God,

build*! God, build! Soon! Quickly! Quickly! And as we sing the litany of

God’s virtues, we strike the table in tempo together, “Bachur hu, gadol hu,

dagul hu…” -- supreme is God, great is God, outstanding is God. We

implore: God, we need you to create a sanctuary for your people — a place

for them to come together in peace. We are under no illusion that it will be

easy. But we remind ourselves how extraordinary you are, God; it helps us

to have faith that it will happen.

There are 21 ways we describe God in Adir Hu. Some of the descriptors

are, well, very God-like: exalted, faultless, sovereign, redeemer, almighty,

holy. Others are quite human: faithful, unique, wise, compassionate.

What if, even at this late hour, we take a moment to think: what descriptors

do we use for ourselves most often? We may not think of ourselves as

exalted every day (nor should we, probably). But for right now, think of two

or three descriptors for yourself. Not how someone else would describe

you, but rather how you think of yourself — your core, your essence.

Creative? Empathetic? Funny? Intellectual? Nurturing? Patient? Curious?

Rambunctious? Scattered? Loyal?

Now, allow yourself to think of one attribute that you want to develop in this

coming season of rebirth. Imagine yourself at the seder next year. What

descriptor do you want to confidently own that is, perhaps, only nascent for

you now?

And finally, what do you need to build to become that? Is it building in time

during the day, the week- for learning, for creative pursuits, for

volunteering? Is it building a space outside that will connect you to nature

more easily? It is building deeper relationships with one or two people?

Change, especially deep change in ourselves, requires scaffolding,

constructing – building -- to happen. So start building. Quickly! Quickly!

*a reference to a plea to rebuild the Temple


And I'll finish with an image from Lisa Fliegel, which appears at the beginning of ANU entitled Dayeinu.


"Hallel is a prayer of thanksgiving added to the morning service on festive Jewish holidays. The prayer, whose Hebrew name literally means “praise,” is comprised of six psalms (113-118) that amount to an extended expression of praise and thanks to God for the many kindnesses bestowed upon Israel. 

Hallel is recited on the first two days of Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot and Hanukkah. A shortened version, known colloquially as Half Hallel, is recited on the last six days of Passover and Rosh Chodesh, the celebration of the new Hebrew month. Some Jews also recite it on Israeli Independence Day and Jerusalem Day, which celebrates the unification of the Israeli capital in 1967. A version of Hallel is also recited during the Passover Seder. Hallel is not recited on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur due to the more somber tone of those observances (Arachin 10b). Reciting Hallel is regarded as a mitzvah, and it begins with a benediction praising God for the commandment of its recitation."


The voices on this page include:

Adva Yudkin was born an raised on Kibbutz Ketura. Adva is 35 years old and is a resident in a group home for adults with special needs on Kibbutz Ketura. Adva is an active participant in Ketura’s synagogue including leading services and has loved to sing all her life.

 Rabbi Sara Cohen is a member of Kibbutz Ketura where she has lived and worked since making Aliyah in 1986. Sara was ordained by the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem in 2017 and presently serves as a regional rabbi in the Eilot region in the southern Arava Valley of Israel.

Elena Stone is a painter, mixed media artist and writer how work flows from a lifelong passion for the creative process. Her art is about kinship withthe earth community, the dance of the spirit, light and energy, the conversation between inner and outer landscapes and the joy of improvisation and experimentation. She serves as the Artist-in-Residence for the Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University, where she leads creativity workshops and shares art and writing through her ecofeminist blog Big Planet Love.

Debra Cash

Debra Cash’s poetry has appeared in Hanging Loose, AJS Perspectives, Persimmon Tree, the Open Siddur Project and elsewhere, and has been anthologized in Anita Diamant’s books on the Jewish lifecycle and in the Reform and Reconstructionist prayer books. “The Stone’s Hallelujah” is excerpted from Who Knows One (2010).

Ellen Krueger

Ellen Krueger is a writer/baker/gardener who has been at these crafts for most of her life. Despite being retired, Ellen still spends many happy hours writing, baking and gardening. She lives in Acton, Massachusetts with her husband Allan. Having her children and grandchildren visit, and especially come for the holidays, bring special joy.

Lisa Berman is a full-time Cape Cod resident and former Mikveh

Education Director at Mayyim Hayyim Community Mikveh in Newton, MA.

She now works at a small Episcopal church, a fact that brings a quizzical

head tilt to many and a smile to Lisa.

Lisa Fliegel is a trauma specialist and American-Israeli writer based in Boston who has worked internationally, including in Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine. She is a special clinical consultant to The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, a grassroots non-profit serving survivors of victims of homicide. Following the Boston Marathon Bombing, she worked with The Israel Trauma Coalition to provide services to Boston residents and was the featured trauma expert in a BBC broadcast following the bombing.

153 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page