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Workshop:Hollywood, Passover and who's cooking dinner
Anne Phyllis Pinzow

Anne Phyllis Pinzow is a script writer who makes her main living as a newspaper reporter and editor.  

Being a well established, hard news reporter and oft times expose writer, Pinzow was asked to do a completely personal piece about Passover 5765, and turned in this emotionally rich and very contemporary portrait of an ancient ritual tradition, written in less than an hour, and finished just as the new Pope was announced on April 19th, 2005.  This year Passover starts on the evening of Saturday April 23.  



(NOTE : This is the Hebrew year of 5765 HOWEVER, the events of Passover took place around 3,500 years ago. )

"Take a lamb and with its blood, mark the lintels and posts of every door for tonight I shall pass through the land of Egypt and smite all the firstborn. But when I see the blood upon your door, I will pass over you and the plague shall not enter." 

This is the centerpiece of a story that is repeated every year in Jewish homes on the evenings of the 14th and 15th days of the Hebrew month of Nisan (falling usually in late March through April) during the Passover Seders, when families and friends recall the answers to "why is this night different from all other nights" prior to a ritual feast.
Passover, celebrates how Hashem (an allusion to the holy name) worked wonders through the services of Moshe Rabenu (the rabbi Moses), revered as the most humble of men, to set a people free from slavery and from service to deified human despots and their man made idols. 

It is the story of how the Israelites received the Ten Commandments, wandered in the desert for 40 years, were given manna to eat and were lead by pillars of fire at night and columns of clouds by day to the land promised them, "a good land, a land flowing with milk and honey."

Ah, but if were only that simple. 

Through the visual aides provided by Cecille B. DeMille and more recently, Steven Spielberg, we moderns can only garner a small glimpse of the wonders worked more than 3,500 years ago.

The magic of Hollywood has focused mostly on the miracles of baby Moses' rescue by Pharaoh's daughter, his life saving maiming, his growing up as a prince of Egypt, his murder of a slave driver and then speaking to flames that did not burn a bush identified by "I Am That I Am," and of course, the parting of the waters of the Red Sea. 
Be they apocryphal or fact, could they have caused more awe or terror than 9/11 or the recent tsunami? 

Thousands of years from now, will people remember how more than 300,000 people were killed or remained missing from a natural disaster? Will they search for some logical reason for it, citing miracles of survival, visions and tales of winning the eternal struggle with the evil inclination during the terror? Will they tell stories as they come to grips with the event? Will they blame G-d or form a code of laws upon which a religion is founded based on the precepts that some obscure 80-year-old sage preaches? Will they all be overwhelmed by what they perceive to be what G-d has done for them or to them?

Deep thoughts, yes, but I admit they are questions far from my mind while enjoying the creative culinary masterpieces of my sister, our extended family's designated Seder chef, and watching with laughter and joy the Passover Pageant complete with homemade special effects and choreography, presented by my nephews and nieces.

We perform the rituals of eating the bitter herbs, matzo and charoset (a mixture of apples, almonds, wine and cinnamon). We sing the songs like "Dyanu" (It would have been enough.) We joke and complain "can we eat yet" and we take turns reading from the Haggudah, (the story, prayer book and order of ritual for the Seder). We remember the 10 plagues, spilling drops of wine at the recitation of each as we are admonished to take no joy in the suffering of our persecutors.

And the evenings and days of prayer and eating specially prepared foods while abstaining from others, primarily leaven bread, are filled with the contradictions, bitter and sweet, freedom at a terrible price, tales to explain the unexplainable (because I for one believe that somehow the events all happened), coincidental natural disasters or miracles?

The Promised Land is still the focus of worldwide contention. Human despots still demand tribute, enslavement of the minds of their followers to a culture of death and the destruction of those who oppose them.

So, I wonder, where are Hashem's wonders now? Would taking a lamb really prevent HIV, SARS and numerous other plagues? How many people would truly be impressed into reason by seeing a staff turned into a snake which swallows a couple of other snakes whole?

But then I remember what to me is the most important aspect of the Passover story and the story of so many of our ancestors, and so many of my countrymen no matter what ancestry who came to a Promised Land. 

And guess what, impressive and astounding as they all are, it's not the miracles, the wonders, the natural disasters or the special effects. For me, it's something ultimately so much more precious and really quite simple.

Hashem set us free. What happens next is freedom's gift and price.

To all our Jewish readers, as you celebrate this festival of freedom and deliverance may your lives be filled with the blessings of happiness, prosperity, peace and togetherness of your loved ones. Happy Passover!

Read the other lessons by Anne Phyllis Pinzow such as:

 Explore the whole Workshop.  

Meet other Worldcrafters' Guild Writing Workshop teachers such as  Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Jean Lorrah, Lois Wickstrom and more.  

Explore the WorldCrafters Guild School of Professional Writing.    


HOMEWORK: Write something personal about the most personally meaningful family tradition your own family practices.  Give yourself only 1 hour and do not labor over the prose.  Just pound it out.  

Put that piece aside for a year and don't look at it.  Then take it out and read it over, looking for changes a newspaper editor might make.  

Read the other lessons by Anne Phyllis Pinzow.  Especially her Rules for good reporting.  


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This Page Was Last Updated   04/19/05 01:08 PM EST (USA)

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