Old Stories Made New: Passover with Three Rabbis

For this podcast episode, I (Lee Ann) sat down with Rabbis Nina Beth Cardin, Edwin Goldberg and Rhoda Harrison and discussed the upcoming Passover holiday. While my guests were from different denominations and backgrounds, it was delightful to learn of the similarities with which they all viewed this particular Jewish holiday, as well as their commitment to the same social justice issues that ring across the millennia and their openness to the varieties of Seder experiences.

Rabbi/Cantor Rhoda Harrison is the first voice you’ll hear today…She has her Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from the Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University.  Her dissertation investigated the accommodation of liturgy to modernity. Not only is she a smart and compassionate rabbi, Jewish educator and liturgist, but she is also a cantor with a glorious lyric coloratura voice.  Currently, she serves at Har Sinai as Education Director, but at the beginning of her career she was Har Sinai’s cantor. She also served for years as the rabbi and spiritual leader of Temple Emmanuel of Baltimore.  When not at temple you can find Rhoda doing crossfit and working on her cabaret repertoire. Her next cabaret performance at Germano’s (in Baltimore) is June 16th, 2018. Find out more HERE!

Next is Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin– prolific writer, educator, social activist and environmentalist, who has, as it were, a “community pulpit” instead of a “congregational pulpit”. In Baltimore she has founded and lead numerous organizations, including the Jewish Women’s Resource Center, the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network and the Baltimore Orchard Project. As an author, she has a few publications to her name! She fashions spiritual resources from the Jewish tradition and makes them relevant for the post-modern world in which we live. Some of her works include: Visions of Holiness in the Everyday; Tears of Sorrow, Seeds of Hope: A Jewish Spiritual Companion for Infertility and Pregnancy Loss; The Tapestry of Jewish Time: A Spiritual Guide to Holidays and Life-Cycle Events; and, Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays: Traditions in a Modern Voice. Currently she is in the middle of writing her next book, simply titled, Rabbi.

And finally, Rabbi Edwin Goldberg– senior rabbi at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He has served congregations in Coral Gables, Florida, Los Angeles and Cincinnati. He is the author of many books, including: Midrash for Beginners, Heads and Tales: Stories of the Sages to Enlighten Our Minds, Swords and Plowshares: Jewish Views of War and Peace, Love Tales from the Talmud, Saying No and Letting Go: Jewish Wisdom on Making Room for What Matters Most. He has served as the Coordinating Editor of the new Reform Jewish Machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh. A companion commentary, Divrei Mishkan HaNefesh, edited by Rabbi Goldberg, is due out this spring.

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Thank Yous!

Big, heartfelt thanks go out to those who made this episode possible with their assistance. First, to the guests who took time out of their busy lives to talk with me. My love and appreciation to Rabbis Cardin, Harrison and Goldberg. For the musical interludes between the episode segments, Craig Taubman is the gifted musical artist to whom we owe such gratitude. You will want to hear all of his work at Craignco.com, but if you don’t do anything else, pick up/stream/find/GET his album, Passover Lounge. He and his colleagues are impacting the world one event, song, inspiration and ripple at a time.

To friends and colleagues, Herb Levy, Kim Sit, and Alexander Laurin, who gave me advice as I put this episode together–thank you!

And to my brother, John Hopkins, who is a talented audio engineer and music producer in New York City–I just could not have done this elaborate episode without his expertise. He brought my whole production and vision together. (I love you–I really, REALLY love you, John!) Please check out his work at Just John Music.

Haggadot Recommendations for Passover:

Sharing the Journey: The Haggadah for the Contemporary Family by Alan S. Yoffie and illustrated by Mark Podwal

For This We Left Egypt?: A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel

The New Freedom Seder by Arthur Waskow (free, printable .pdf version!)

A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah by Rabbi Joy Levitt and Rabbi Michael Strassfeld, illustrated by Jeffrey Schrier

New American Haggadah by Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander

Family Haggadah: A Seder for All Generations, edited by Pamela B. Schaff

HIAS Haggadah Supplement 2018  HIAS is an international nonprofit. They stand for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom. Find out more about their vital work HERE.

Passover Resources:

Reform Judaism

Conservative Movement

Reconstructing Judaism (Reconstructionists)–Seder Supplement

YouTube Passover Selections:

Maccabeats — Dayenu

Maccabeats — Mah Nishtanah (a favorite of mine!)

Elliot Dvorin and Key Tov Orchestra — Passover Mashup

And the Flourless Chocolate Torte Recipe I Promised You from Rabbi Rhoda (and Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Baker):

10 ounces good imported bittersweet chocolate broken into pieces

½ c unsalted butter at room temp

½ c sugar (plus more for sprinkling)

5 large eggs separated

1/3 c finely ground almonds in a food processor

2 tbsp kosher for Passover brandy

Whipped cream (optional)

Raspberries (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and grease a 9-inch spring-form pan (line bottom of pan with baking parchment.
  2. Melt chocolate in double boiler. When melted, turn off heat and leave it over the hot water to cool slowly.
  3. Beat the butter with ¼ c of sugar until mixture is fluffy and almost white. Add the egg yolks and beat for 1 minute. Add the almonds and brandy and beat 2 more minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until light and foamy while gradually adding the remaining ¼ cup of sugar. Continue beating the whites until they are stiff and shiny.
  5. Add the cooled melted chocolate to the egg-yolk mixture and mix with a rubber spatula until well combined. Fold ¼ of this chocolate mixture into the egg whites, then gently fold this egg-white mixture back into the rest of the chocolate mixture, taking care not to deflate the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out covered with a thick, moist (not wet), and crumby coating.
  7. Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Loosen the edges with a knife, remove the sides, and carefully turn the cake upside-down onto a plate. Remove parchment paper. Sprinkle with sugar or cover with a chocolate ganache. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream and/or raspberries on the side.


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I love you, I really, REALLY love you!

About the Author Lee Ann Hopkins

"Smile and the world smiles with you." That's the motto she lives by. Lee Ann is perfectly imperfect and unabashed about it even as she strives for higher and "better" every day. Both her can-do and her foibles are as fabulous as her smile. So take a moment and breathe in Lee Ann's "hooray" for today! Ms. Hopkins is host of the podcast Hooray Weekly, founder of The Hooray Daily and Hooray Living, a speaker, writer and do-gooder, who believe-it-or-not has been a public-interest attorney and clergywoman for longer than she cares to admit. Check out her books, You Are All That: Creating a Great Life with Affirmations, and Hooray for You: 365 Get-Up-and-Go-Go Quotes for Your Year. When you write her, send along a clergy and attorney joke. She loves 'em!

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