- Judaic Studies
Happy Passover from Heilicher
Passover or Pesah/פסח, is the Jewish Holiday celebrating the Israelites freedom from slavery circa 1250 BCE. The Torah describes Pesah as the Holiday of Matzah/חג המצות and the rabbis call it The Spring Holiday/חג האביב. Customs of the holiday include a festive meal, called a "seder/סדר", that consists of 14 parts meant to inspire questions and participation from children while having all participants "view themselves as if they were freed from Egypt" (Mishna Pesahim 10:5/משנה פסחים י:ה and the Pesah haggadah/פסח הגדה). Additionally, we refrain from owning and eating leavened items throughout the entire holiday. Click here for more information.
In recent weeks, students and faculty have been learning about Pesah, its history, rituals and customs and looking for new ideas to bring to our sederim. One idea that has come up is related to the idea of symbols. Everything in the seder, is meant to symbolize an element of the story of Passover. From the bitter herb and salt water representing the bitterness and tears of slavery, to the 4 cups of wine representing our celebration of personal and communal freedom, symbolism is at the heart of our Pesah celebrations. Students have engaged in opportunities to learn about others' family rituals and customs that help symbolize the transition from slavery to freedom. In both 6th and 7th grade this week, we engaged in Torah Yoga (Experiencing Jewish Wisdom Through Classic Postures by Diane Bloomfield) and experiencing our own physical, mental and spiritual release from tension, pain and suffering to release, free-flow and openness.
During your seder, we invite you to ask each other about your personal Egypt - what in your life is constricting? And discuss what you do to "view yourself as if you were freed from Egypt" - how do you release the tension?
Wishing you a very Happy and Healthy Pesah,
חג כשר ושמח!
Etan Dov Weiss
Director of Jewish Life and Hebrew
After graduation, Heilicher alumna Simone P. encountered an uncomfortable situation at basketball camp. She decided to take a brave step to educate the camp about Jewish history related to an unintentional, yet offensive, long-standing camp practice.
New this year, on Monday mornings, we will have an All-School T’filah (prayer) service in the Dolly and Edward Fiterman Theatre. Our students will chant Torah each week. We’ll celebrate birthdays and milestones. And we’ll have a place to pray, whether that means working on our character, connecting with God, reflecting and/or rejoicing.
As a gift to her eighth-grade class for graduation, Ms. Weiss gathered student reflections and crafted them into a poem. These words of inspiration will stay with her students for years to come.