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Edmon J. Rodman


Close up of a seder plate

What kind of leadership style works best for a seder? During a period when we are experiencing a shake-up in national leadership, you may want to re-examine the relationship that exists between leader and participants at the Passover meal.

Though seder leaders and participants are not elected, there is still a seder mandate that governs your relationship: Everyone present -- the wise, the wicked, the simple, and even the one who does not know how to ask a question -- are all involved in the evening’s proceedings.

Attending a Passover seder remains an “extremely common...

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On this holiday weekend, due to a confluence of special days — Independence Day, the 17th of Tammuz and Shabbat — American Jews will have the opportunity to both celebrate our religious freedom and retrace what we did when it was threatened.

The 17th of Tammuz, a little-known fast day, commemorates the breach of Jerusalem's walls by the Romans that led to the destruction of the Second Temple — and, eventually, to another chapter of the Jewish Diaspora. The day also marks the beginning of the three-week mourning period leading to Tishah B’Av.

The 17th of Tammuz falling on...

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With a borscht-curdling geshrei (shout), Halloween this year falls on Shabbat. On a Friday night, trick-or-treaters, even Jewish ones, will be knocking.

Should we open the door? Or should we be spooked about joining the celebration?

After reading that on Oct. 31, Urban Adamah, a Jewish-oriented educational farm and community center in Berkeley, Calif., would be holding a “Challahween Kabbalat Shabbat” - chanting and meditation plus a potluck dinner and Halloween dessert candy bar - I wondered: Should I have a Halloween Shabbat dinner as well?

Yes, I know that when...

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After weeks of missiles falling on Israel and bombs dropping on Gaza, we land on Tishah B’Av. With the day-to-day images of explosions and tunnels so fresh, I wondered how they might connect to my mid-summer night’s struggle with the somber holiday’s relevance.

Tishah B’Av, this year starting on the evening of Aug. 4, is a day on which we are supposed to mourn for the destruction of the First and Second Temples. I say “supposed to” because each year I become less certain - as I suspect is the case for many American Jews - as to why I mourn.

On Tishah B’Av we are forbidden...

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At future Passovers, if we consider the Jewish implications of the recent hit movie Her, we all could be using a talking computer operating system with artificial intelligence to lead our seders.

But I can't wait that long.

Tired of running my own seders - they've grown ever more complicated as my guests study up about the seder beforehand and persist in asking pesky questions that I cannot answer - I needed a cool digital maven to run our yearly Haggadah-fest.

After all, I reasoned, isn’t the Passover Haggadah already a kind of operating system designed to tell the...

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