THE NEAR EAST
Note: for my opening essay on the relationship between Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac,
see my Islam page in this series on the Near East's "Three Monotheisms."
Young Miriam watching her baby brother Moses:
Detail of "Moses in His Mother's Arms" by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905);
Bible Review: February 1989
"Internet Jewish History Sourcebook": this is a huge, educationally-focused collection of links to all of Israel and Judaism, both ancient and modern, issue by issue (including the Holocaust), age by age. This amazingly complete collection is compiled by Fordham's Professor Paul Halsall and is one of several such sourcebooks designed by him that will be found on my website. It could take you weeks to explore any of them.http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Resources/Texts/
This site by Religious Studies graduate student Alan Humm (University of Pennsylvania) is an excellent selection of Jewish and Christian "On-Line Primary Literature Related to ancient Near Eastern religions, Hellenistic Mediterranian religions and Biblical Study."http://metalab.unc.edu/expo/deadsea.scrolls.exhibit/intro.html
This is "SCROLLS FROM THE DEAD SEA: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship." The site is based on an exhibit at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. It offers history, photos, articles, resources for teachers, relevant links, and much more. The site's organizer states:http://www.folklore.org.il/This hypermedia interface to SCROLLS FROM THE DEAD SEA: The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Scholarship was done by Jeff Barry, email@example.com. The materials in this exhibit have been reorganized by Jeff Barry to better suit a hypermedia format; therefore, this hypermedia exhibit may provide a different interpretation of the Scrolls than that provided by the original Library of Congress exhibit.FYI: personally, I find the original site, http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/scrolls/toc.html, far more attractive and easier to navigate. However, it also crashed my Netscape 4.7 four or five times, for unknown reasons! I finally tried it in Netscape 7.2 and had no problems. So I leave it up to you <smile>.
This is a site on "Jewish Folklore in Israel" with links to academic programs, books (print and CD's), music, cross-cultural folklore links, etc. There's a link to a scholarly essay near the beginning that looks interesting. Several Chassidic links are also fine: e.g., appealing art may be found at: http://www.kesser.org/gallery/gallery.html and the home page, with lively Chassidic music in the background (which I happen to love) is at: http://www.kesser.org/. This is another good site for exploring.http://www.folklore.org.il/misgav.htm
From the above site, this is a scholarly bibliography and listing of future books from "The Center for Research and Study of Sephardi and Oriental Jewish Heritage."http://kabbalah-web.org/
This is a site with a great deal of information on the Kabbalah from Rav Michael Laitman, PhD . This is not an area I have studied so I am reluctant to comment -- what I saw, however, looks serious, thoughtful, and grounded.http://www.jhom.com/topics/envy/images/sarah/index.html
This Jewish Heritage Online Magazine is, quite simply, a treasure. This particular link is one I found a few years ago when searching for art on Sarah. There is no publication date. If you click on Topic of the Month, you'll be amazed at what you find -- again, no dates, no month given, but what an astonishing array of topics -- goats, voice, tears, and dozens more! I clicked at random on Tree and found some wonderful material -- http://www.jhom.com/topics/trees/index.htm. This is a fabulous online magazine. Don't miss it.http://www.jtsa.edu/library/exhib/pcard/
From the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City comes an exhibit of early 20th century postcards depicting aspects of Jewish life. Here are some excerpts from the intriguing introduction:In our age of advanced computer technology and instant electronic mail, the picture postcard is a charming vestige of the past. Originally known as a "postal card", the postcard was created in 1869. This innovation, which afforded the opportunity to send mail inexpensively, rapidly became the most common and reliable method for communicating brief personal messages....The online exhibit offers twenty of these postcards.
...The earliest and largest number of Jewish picture postcards were created for Rosh Ha-Shanah greetings....
...Many other subjects were popular with the Jewish public as well. While the picture postcards of the non-Jewish world often focused on famous world monuments and tourist attractions, those produced for Jews frequently displayed Jewish monuments: synagogues from around the world. Of particular interest were the large and elaborate temples constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries across Europe and the United States. As many of the European synagogues were destroyed during the Holocaust, postcards are often the only known visual record of these majestic buildings....
...Jewish postcards supplied the past and present spectator with rare and almost immediate documentation of important events in the life of the Jewish people: the early Zionist congresses, the building of new settlements and towns in Eretz Israel, the emigration from Europe and arrival in the New World. As such, Jewish picture postcards are a fascinating visual resource for the study of Jewish history.
Moses Parting the Red Sea
© Dave Alber: used with the artist's kind permission
This is a marvelous 2004 review by Allan Gould of two books focusing on women and Passover. Here is how he begins:http://www.angelfire.com/pa2/passover/passover.htmlI developed a joke that I use, when Christian friends ask me what Passover is all about. "It's the Jewish holiday," I tell them, "dedicated to the fact that Jewish women never left Egypt."Gould first turns to a quote from the Introduction to the Passover Companion:
Like the best of humour, there's a lot of truth in it: the endless cleaning and shopping, the careful search for chametz, the food preparation, the never-ending crowds of guests, and for traditional Jews outside the Holy Land, those TWO complex, long, hard-to-prepare-for and hard-to-clean-up seders. Yes, Jewish women remain in slavery, if not in Egypt, don't they?
I am so pleased to announce, then, the publication of The Women's Passover Companion: Women's Reflections on the Festival of Freedom, and The Women's Seder Sourcebook: Rituals & Readings for Use at the Passover Seder, both edited by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Tara Mohr and Catherine Spector and published by Vermont's Jewish Lights Publishing. And both invaluable...."Passover is likely the most widely celebrated of all Jewish holidays, and the Passover seder has become one of the most significant rituals of the Jewish year. . . . Yet, despite women's central role in the domestic holiday preparations, we have often played a marginal role in the seder itself, unable to lead—or even participate fully in—telling the Exodus story. The Jewish feminist movement has reclaimed women's place at the seder table. . . ."Among the collection of essays in this book, one section especially caught my eye:..."Women of Exodus" includes scholarly studies of Miriam, the midwives who disobeyed the Pharoah's orders to throw new-born Jewish sons into the Nile, and more heroes....He quotes from a paragraph in an essay, "The Secret of Redemption," by Orthodox scholar and Torah scholar Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg:
...We all know that history is written by the victors, not the vanquished. It is not by chance that we cannot find any references to the Jews leaving Egypt in ancient Egyptian writings. Yet the Exodus story is flush with righteous women, including Yocheved, the mother of Moses, Pharaoh's daughter, Moses' wife, even the wise Serach bat Asher. As one of the co-editors of these two books, Tara Mohr, writes, "This is an extraordinary group of biblical figures, each playing a key part in the story of our liberation, each nearly invisible in traditional accounts of the Passover story. Exploring and honouring these women, women's seders have offered participants inspiring Jewish heroines, a connection to their foremothers, and, importantly, a sense of women's long-standing importance in Jewish history and tradition." ...."A classic statement in the Talmud focuses on women as the redeeming force in Egypt: 'In reward for the righteous women in that generation, Israel were redeemed from Egypt.' Redemption, says the Talmud, came only because of 'righteous women.' Does this refer to the particular, courageous women singled out in the narrative. . . .[o]r does it gesture toward a more general feminine power that, working at first in semidarkness, finally releases the people from the spiritual paralysis of Egypt?"Gould then turns to the second book, focusing on:
A wonderful question, and well answered in her memorable essay....... a crucial "Opening the Seder" section, which suggests the custom—used for years at women's seders—"of having each woman introduce herself as the daughter of her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and so forth, going as far back through her family as she can. This tradition both honors the women who have come before us, and dramatically asserts how this seder is different from all other seders..... At this seder, we come together as mothers and daughters; at this seder, when we share our genealogy, we hear the sounds of women's names." (And think of how often women's names are left out altogether in the Torah, from "Noah's wife" to "Lot's wife.")I found Gould's review thoroughly engaging and recommend it highly.
What a superior idea, and one that can enrich seders for both sexes, as well. There are dozens of such "great ideas" in the Seder Sourcebook, and in the Passover Companion as well. I can hardly wait to try out many of them this April 5th and 6th. at my own seders. I hope you will, too.
Moses the Leader
© Nicholas Roerich, 1925
Courtesy of the Nicholas Roerich Museum in New York City
From a librarian in Montreal comes a large, comprehensive, and excellent website that explores many aspects of Passover. Here is a brief excerpt on the significance of the celebration:...Passover has three primary levels of significance: (1) Passover is an historical festival, commemorating the exodus from Egypt, notably the physical redemption of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt; (2) Passover is an agricultural festival, celebrating the Spring season and the new growth and harvest season, particularly the earliest barley and cereal harvest; (3) Passover is a religious festival, it celebrates the fact that G-d is the redeemer of the Hebrews from the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who forced the Hebrews into slavery in ancient Egypt. As the redeemer of the Hebrews, the Hebrews became the servants of G-d alone....In addition to this page, here is a listing of other available pages on this site -- I have provided a direct link to the Site Map for your convenience. I have also provided several links to pages I had time to read and enjoy. This is definitely a site worthy of a leisurely exploration:
http://www.jhom.com/calendar/nisan/index.htmlPassover Site Map | Passover Seder | Passover Preparation
Sephardic and Ashkenazic Passover Differences
Sephardic Passover Customs and Traditions
Ashkenazic Passover Customs and Traditions
Passover Recipes - Pesach Recipes
Passover ECards | Passover Haggadah: [this has internal links to lovely Haggadah artwork]
Passover Paintings | Passover En Français
History of Passover | Passover Date
Passover : An Overview | Passover Humor
The Four Questions | The Four Sons
Passover Songs | Elijah the Prophet
Passover Games and Quizzes
Passover Holiday Names
The Ten Plagues of Passover
The Four Cups of Wine for Passover
Our Passover Site Links
Jewish Calendar - Hebrew Calendar - History
Passover : A Rabbi's View | Link To Our Passover Site!
Passover Calendar - An Introduction | Passover Calendar - Pesach Calendar
Passover Prayers, Blessings, Benedictions, Torah/Haftorah Readings
Passover Recipe Websites | Passover Website Updates - Latest News
Excerpt from Miriam's "Song at the Sea"
from a Haggadah in the Klau Library Collection in Cincinnati, Ohio (see below)
From Jewish Heritage Online Magazine (see above) comes a page on Passover -- there are some beautiful articles. The one on the "Song At the Sea" disappointed me because usually this is considered to be Miriam's song, not Moses', but everything else on the page seems exceptional.
Illuminated Haggadah Manuscripts
15th century German Haggadah
by Meir Jaffe of Heidelberg.
Now known as the Cincinnati Haggadah
I love medieval manuscripts and find this exhibit of illustrated Haggadah texts from Yale University really stunning. A Haggadah is akin to a prayer book or Catholic Missal -- it is a "compilation of biblical passages, prayers, hymns, and rabbinic literature." The Haggadah gives the order of events for a Passover celebration and its artwork usually depicts ancient happenings in terms of the cultural milieu of those using the book.http://www.cn.huc.edu/libraries/haggadahs/
This is a link to two exhibits of Haggadot in Cincinnati -- the artwork at the beginning of this section comes from one of them. The other is a wonderful Klau Library online exhibit with many clickable thumbnails.http://www.emanuelnyc.org/seder/table.html
This page from the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati offers 23 clickable thumbnails from various Haggadot. Unfortunately, there is no historical perspective or commentary, but the images are wonderful.http://www.facsimile-editions.com/bh_page.htm
Passover Seder from the Barcelona Haggadah (see directly below)
For $3,850 US, one can purchase a facsimile of this lovely Haggadah from Barcelona <smile>. Here is what London's British Library says about the original:http://www.lib.uconn.edu/about/exhibits/torah/torah.htmThe Barcelona Haggadah is recognised as one of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts in the collections of London's British Library. It dates from the middle of the fourteenth century, and is named after the heraldic shield it bears, which resembles the arms of Barcelona. When the manuscript was created, the Jews of Aragon and Catalonia formed one of the largest communities in Europe, and Barcelona was home to a flourishing centre of manuscript illumination, linked to the Court and influenced by Italian and French styles.
Of all categories of Jewish prayer book, the Passover Haggadah tends to be the most extensively and richly decorated. The narrative itself, the Rabbinic elaboration, the family meal, the symbolic foods and the fact that the story is told to children, provide added incentives for colourful illustration. The size of the manuscript indicates that it was intended to be used, and enjoyed, at the Passover table on the eve of the festival, for the family gathering known as the Seder.
This Haggadah is outstanding for the rich decorative and representational illuminations scattered throughout the text: no fewer than 128 of its 322 pages are richly ornamented. Its fanciful figures and pictorial scenes provide fascinating insights into Jewish life in mediaeval Spain. For instance, music and culture in general flourished in Barcelona and its environs, and the Jewish community was proud to be fully involved. Indeed, until the forced conversion of the Jewish population of Barcelona in 1401, Jewish musicians played a vital role in drawing the Jews and Christians closer together. It is not surprising, therefore, that a lively interest in music is clearly displayed throughout the manuscript: in all, twenty-eight different instruments appear in the illustrations. More intimate details, such as the pictures of the meal, take us straight into a Jewish home of the period, while the synagogue scene reflects fourteenth-century conditions and traditions. The illustrations of the five rabbis of Bnei Brak, the four sons, the story of Abraham breaking the idols, and the Exodus, (which is shown taking place on horseback in mediaeval costume), are of great historical value. The unrestrained humour of the artist is clear from the dogs and rabbits that romp through the illuminated pages of the manuscript....
From the University of Connecticut comes "People of the Book," an online exhibit of four handsome Haggadah illustrations. Text is minimal but positioning your mouse over the enlarged art will at least identity it. Additional historical data can be found at this already-mentioned excellent link: Passover Haggadah.http://archaeology.about.com/education/archaeology/library/atlas/blisrael.htm
From about.com come lengthy listings about work being done in archaelogical sites in Israel. I clicked on a few and found a fair number of dead links but those that were working were often quite informative.
Menu of Myth*ing Links' Near Eastern pages:
Near East Opening Page/IndexThe Tigris-EuphratesRiver Valley
(also known as Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria)
Lilith Remembered: a poem by Kathy Robles
(which once covered much of modern Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel)
Anatolia & Central Asia
(which once covered much of modern Turkey & beyond to the Eurasian steppes)Contemporary IraqThe Three Desert-Born Monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity & IslamJudaism
Rabi'a al-'Adawiyya, an 8th Century Islamic Saint from IraqThe Crone Papers: Notes on the Mideast:
What Can We Do About Terrorism? by Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
Mythinglinks' Home Page
On my home page you'll find my complete site map
as well as my e-mail address.
This page created with Netscape Gold
Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
© 1999-2007 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
All rights reserved.
Page created 17 March 2006 ("transplanted" from the original Near East/3 Monotheisms page).
New links annotated and illustrated 17-19 March 2006 by working til 5-6 am each night.
Officially Nedstated & launched first full day of spring, 21 March 2006.
9 April 2006: corrected the price of the Barcelona Haggadah -- I had typed in $39,000, instead of $3,850 --
my apologies to the publishers! I also added link to my Sarah/Hagar essay on Islam page.Note: Bar-separators are a detail I cropped from the famous Standard of Ur (c.2600-2400 BCE), found in Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND: Epics of Early Civilization: Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:54.