Pesach for the Rest of Us
Making the Passover Seder Your Own
By Marge Piercy
(Schocken, Hardcover, 9780805242423, 304pp.)
Publication Date: February 20, 2007
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Every year, poet and novelist Marge Piercy creates her own Passover seder with a group of family and friends. Babies have been born and grown up, friends have moved or divorced, but the principals continue to gather in her rustic Cape Cod home to participate in a seder that Piercy takes joy in tweaking each spring to make it more meaningful. In this journey through the ritual, Piercy coaxes us toward “a significant contemporary interpretation, rather than an emphasis on what is strictly ‘correct’ or traditional.” She reminisces about her grandmother, who thought herself unworthy to lead a seder because of her limited Hebrew but presided “morally” at the table; she urges adding an orange to the seder plate; she even describes her heroic efforts to make her own gefilte fish (an experiment not to be repeated).
Piercy offers her distinct slant on each element of the feast and provides dozens of her own wonderful recipes, which she delivers in the same warm, commanding voice as is heard in her poems and prose: “When I told Ira that I was going to explain how to cook matzoh brei, he thought I was crazy. Everybody knows how to make matzoh brei, he said. But I am of the opinion that there is no longer anything that everybody knows how to cook.”
It is in that spirit–no question too simple–that Piercy welcomes readers to her kind of seder: a homemade and personal affair, the kind we all wish we could attend. This charming and instructive book of Passover wisdom, brimming with favorite dishes and Marge Piercy’s own moving Passover poems and blessings, invites us to look at an important Jewish ritual in a whole new way.
Marge Piercy is the author of seventeen novels, including Gone to Soldiers; He, She and It; and, most recently, Sex Wars; seventeen volumes of poetry, including The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme and, most recently, The Crooked Inheritance; and a memoir, Sleeping with Cats. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, the publisher and novelist Ira Wood.
“Marge Piercy accompanies the reader on a journey that is illuminating, exciting, and healing all at once. Finally, a book for people who are wrestling with how to bring their sedarim to life and at the same time hold onto the wisdom that resides in the tradition. Piercy frees us up to be creative and alive. The book is a blessing.”
–Rabbi Alan Ullman
“Piercy opens a door into the tradition for those who have been unable to open that door for themselves. Food is the most elemental of traditions, and seeing her prepare and share her meal is like being invited to her seder and sitting around the table with our mothers and grandmothers, hearing the whispers that go on in the kitchen when no one else is paying attention.”
–Rabbi Alana Suskin
Praise for The Art of Blessing the Day
“Accessible, transformative, thrilling. Marge Piercy teases out the spiritual lights hidden within the most ordinary events.”
–Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of Kabbalah: A Love Story
“Piercy’s superb spiritual powers are up to their elbows in the lived world, bringing a liberated and grounded wisdom to everything they touch. Behind this book one hears the great embracing toast of Jewish tradition: ‘L’Chaim’–‘to life!’”
–Jane Hirschfield, author of After