Book Review: Passover (David Marx)

Passover, by David Marx

As someone who has read a fair amount about the Passover, it is interesting to see the demand that exists for books about the Passover that are aimed at young Jewish audiences.  As is frequently the case for books written from the Jewish perspective, this book is short on biblical midrash and long on appeal to various nonbiblical traditions.  Likewise, the authors make no attempt to comment upon or learn about how Passover is kept for those who are outside of the understanding of a mainstream Jewish audience.  In the case of this book, one can imagine that this book is meant to appeal to a reconstructionist or Conservative tradition, because there is a reference to Passover as being something that is old and traditional but where there is at the same time a desire to recognize the Hebrew language of the festival.  Whether or not the author writes as an insider or an outsider, this book is clearly aimed at those who might be interested in knowing the language of the Jewish observance of Passover without necessarily wanting to obey the Passover in the same way that it was commanded by the Bible or by the various traditions followed by Orthodox Jews.

This book is a short one at just over 20 pages or so and is not divided into sections of chapters.  Rather, the material is very basic and straightforward.  The author begins by discussing Passover as a Jewish observance (and not as a biblical one that extends beyond mainstream Judaism) and gives the rough time of year it occurs in without informing the reader of the lunar-solar calendar.  The author discusses how most Jews keep the Passover only one or two days even though it is a week or so long depending on how one counts it.  The author focuses on the food and fun of the day as well as the songs that come from the Haggadah (without mentioning the biblical origin of these songs in Psalms 113-118 and 136).  The author talks about the ingredients on the plate as well as the hunt for leavening and the four questions that are to be asked by the youngest person at the seder.  With that the author discusses the words that one should learn by reading the book, which are included with pictures, and with that the book is over, without the reader having a deeper understanding of more than the basic framework of the day as relating to freedom from slavery and involving very symbolic foods and rituals.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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