Passover is on its way out and it’s never too early to wax nostalgic. Or is it?
At our seders there is always conversation that begins with, “when I was young, we used to…” At times the memory is sweet, other times it leaves a more bitter taste.
It doesn’t take much to prompt a memory.
At our table our mother can be reminded of her family seders from the objects we use—the wine decanter brought lovingly from Slovakia in 1905, our great aunt and uncle’s wine goblet now designated for Elijah. A tune links us to the past. Our family completes the seder with the melody our brother learned at Hebrew School when he was still a soprano and sang with such gusto at the model seder and all subsequent seders. And, of course, it can be food that reminds us of seders past. There are only so many variations...
Passover is a time when Jews gather together at a seder and read from the Haggada the narrative of our journey with the instruction that we should feel as if we personally were freed from Egypt.
This ritual serves to integrate our past to our present and one generation to another. In my day job as a psychologist, while I was preparing for this week’s consultation on EMDR (a trauma therapy), I discovered a chapter entitled “Narrative” in Dan Siegel’s Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology that opened my eyes that the seder is an ideal ritual to heal trauma and further integrate a group.
Siegel was writing about trauma in general, not our enslavement in Egypt nor Yom haShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), but the connections are clear. By narrating our story and subjecting it to further interpretation, we change the nature of our memories on a neurochemical level from bits of sensory data to a fuller, more integrated story. ...
Be happy, it’s Adar! * This is the kind of imperative, I can really support. Thanks to my friend, Sara Lynn, who distributes these reminders across the Jewish world during the Hebrew month of Adar. On Wednesday night we read the story of Persian King Ahashuerus’s attempt to destroy the Jews thanks to the machinations of his vizier, Haman. With help from her uncle Mordehai, the Jewish Queen Esther manipulates the king and saves her people. Exactly one month after Purim, we celebrate another holiday, Passover. The centerpiece is our master narrative-- the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Is it any wonder so many Jews are writers and publishers? As Alisa would say, “it’s part of our Jewish DNA.”
One of the highlights of a book talk or an invitation to a book club is that Leslie and I are frequently privileged to hear others’ stories. At times...
Ha! Reader, you may have thought you caught a spelling error. All foodies now know locavore is an eater dedicated to eating local products. But, no, locovore, is the word I’ve coined to describe how I feel preparing for the Passover seder.
For readers unfamiliar with Passover, it is the joyous holiday celebrating the Israelites’ freedom from slavery. For traditional Jews in the Diaspora there are two celebratory feasts and a host of dietary proscriptions which differ depending if your ancestors hailed from Russia or Yemen. The most well known of the restrictions is the ban on bread but it extends to include all products made of wheat, oats, barley, spelt, peanuts, beans, rice, etc.
Enter 21st century dining. There are three aspects of Passover preparations that drive me meshuga (loco, crazy). First, the cleaning and changing the dishes. Someone else can write about that. Second, if you live in...
I snapped up the invitation to speak at a zoom meeting for the Jewish Affinity Group from Columbus School for Girls. Self-quarantining for almost a year has made me hungry to talk about Jewish Luck. It's certainly clear from the news that Vera and Alla's perceptions about the "New" Russia are just as relevant now as they were when Vera first encountered Putin in Leningrad.More than the intellectua...
What I learned from American Kompromat by Craig Unger (2021) Dutton: NYC has prompted me to write a blog.
Trigger Warning: This book contains potentially distressing content that could trigger trauma that we have experienced regarding the previous US President.
I whisper this mantra to myself: "We're safe now. He's gone. We're safe now." The purpose of this exercise is to reduce my blood pre...
"Faster than a speeding bullet." .Organized anti-government rallies in 109 cities across Russia from jail for January 23 and January 30, 2021. Watch each weekend.
"More powerful than a locomotive." Able to make a miraculous recovery from Novichok poisoning on Aug. 20, 2020 after remaining in a coma for nearly a month. His is the only known case of survival of that strain of Novichok.
We were featured speakers at Hadassah Brandeis Institute and Levy Summer Series. Our speaking engagements include JCCs, synagogues, libraries, book groups, retirement communities, schools, and organizations (e.g. ORT, Hadassah, and Women's League). References are available.
"I was very fortunate to be able to hear Meryll and Leslie speak at a Hadassah event in Israel. Each of the ~50 participants really enjoyed the event because Meryll and Leslie were so engaging. While they had a natural rapport with the audience, you could also tell they had prepared well so they could connect with our particular group's interests. I learned a lot from listening to them, and I found their sisterly interaction unique and fun. If you want an enlightening and uplifting experience, attend one of their book talks." Lisa Shimoni, Modiin Israel
"Truly, you have written a story that makes accessible the reality of existence in Russia, through the eyes of individuals who lived through the various regimes and dictates. It is fascinating and very well told. As I read Vera and Alla's story, I learned more Russian history than I had known from a textbook. That's a big deal, women! You tell the tale with vivid detail and hook us on the two women and their stories, then weave in the history to illuminate their journeys. It is such a necessary book. I am thrilled that the two of you collaborated, as I can see the uniqueness of your personalities come through in the stories, and that, too, makes the book a gem." Margaret Leibfried, Danielson Group consultant
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