Mar 25, 2010

Baltimore Jewish Times - Cover Story: Talking with Rabbi Ronald Shulman and Alex Weinberg

Baltimore Jewish Times - Cover Story: Freedom's Guidebook

So many haggadahs offer unique opportunities for our sacred seder journey.

Talking with Rabbi Ronald Shulman and Alex Weinberg

Alan Feiler & Phil Jacobs, Managing Editor & Executive Editor
March 26, 2010

"The Jewish people's festival of freedom is best enjoyed by talking, asking, answering, debating, discussing, wondering about and exploring the Haggadah's many themes, traditions, texts and ritual symbols. In this way participants may discover personal meaning in the celebration and the beauty of the Passover seder.

"Using Haggadah Shelanu you can prepare your seder celebration in advance of your family and friends' arrival. Preparing a meaningful seder is one of the most important needs we have as Passover approaches."

It is ostensibly a self described "scrapbook" of the Jewish memories and history of the participants of one's seder.

By going to , Haggadah Shelanu can be downloaded and printed in plenty of time for seder.

This haggadah, is the collaboration of Rabbi Ronald Shulman, Chizuk Amuno's spiritual leader, and Alex Weinberg, its director of congregational education.

It's a hagaddah that gives family members literally space to write down their hopes and wishes, be it through words or even drawings. It's a haggadah that suggests participants recount their earliest or funniest seder memories. And/or, it suggests that participants tell what items they brought to the table or foods they cooked. When it comes time to read the Four Questions, there's even a suggestion of "what four modern questions would you ask today?" A participant can recount the day in the life of an Israelite slave, and draw or write about the four types of children described in the hagaddah. There's a chance to illustrate the 10 plagues, and just so many more interactive, wonderful suggestions.

Rabbi Shulman and Mr. Weinberg had been working on their own ideas for such a Haggadah. When it became known to both, they decided to collaborate.

The two tell the story of the Exodus. Yet, they leave plenty of blank space and many trigger questions so that coming to the seder is truly participatory in meaning and action.

"You have prepared in advance this way, and you are using what you created and experienced and bringing this to the table," said Rabbi Shulman.

"A Jew," he continued, "is someone who can tell his story. At its core is it is a traditional Haggadah."

Both men, however, wanted to help people rediscover how they connect as individuals and families to the Exodus. This year, there is even a student's version, giving children further insight as well as more reason to feel connected.

"The seder is the quintessential Shabbat table," said Mr. Weinberg. "It is a unifying and rallying point. We're combining our traditions with our history and our food."

There's something "powerful" he said about the seder.

He and Rabbi Shulman have made it even more so.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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