School Library Journal
A notable feature of modern Judaism, especially in America, is its inventiveness-its many variations within its long-standing traditions. As Passover approaches, some families will bring out a variety of Haggadahs; others will revise the old or write new ones for the events of this year. These two books illustrate different facets of that ongoing ingenuity in Jewish American life-neither of them, shockingly enough, a true Haggadah.
Kurshan takes the traditional "Four Questions" that drive the retelling of the story of the Exodus into 23 languages and gives a short account of the fate of the Jews in the country where each of these languages is spoken. This touchingly illustrated book is ideal for demonstrating the global reach of the Jewish Diaspora. Rips, a bookseller and longtime Seder host, collects anecdotes, observations, memories, and jokes-many of them irreverently hilarious-from the likes of Rita Rudner and Rabbi Harold Kushner. The book underscores the humor, the unpredictability, and the love that have shaped so many Seders for so many generations and includes a helpful glossary of terms for the Passover-unenlightened. For most collections.
Graham Christian Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
From the Publisher
"Reveals the amazing breadth of Jewish observance through 23 translation of The Four Questions, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Fascinating black-and-white photographs introduce each section [and] each translation is followed by a brief history of the community, in effect offering a handbook of global Jewish life." Hadassah Magazine
"Very attractive in its design, this small, square book, with its dust jacket photo of a gorgeous page from the 15th century Darmstadt haggadah, would make a unique and appreciated Seder gift (to yourself or for your host). And if you're looking for an afikoman gift for a teenager, this is an excellent choice." The Chicago Jewish Star
"This attractive book is sure to add multicultural joy to any Seder." The Jewish Week (New York)
"This lovely little illustrated book takes readers on a tour through the Jewish Diaspora from Persia to France, from Sweden to China, from South Africa to Brazil introducing us to far-flung Jewish communities and their unique accents and characteristics. A wonderful gift for those hosting your Seder this year." Berkshire Jewish Voice
"Anyone interested in the rich and fascinating history of Jewish culture will find something to treasure here. Perhaps the best audience for Kurshan's book, though, are those young people who are ready to ask more than just the traditional Four Questions of Passover, ready to explore their people's abundant and diverse, troubling and rewarding history." Bookpage
"I love this Passover book. Ilana Kurshan provides insights into the Jewish dispersion around the world [and] Rabbi Joseph Telushkin has a hilarious introduction in which he throws in a few Ma Nishtana [Four Questions] jokes. Seder attendees I recommend that you purchase this book and bring it to your Seders." myJewishbooks.com
"This fascinating gem of a book is a welcome addition to the many books about Passover that arrive in bookstores each year. Kurshan gives wonderful yet brief histories of Jewish lives from Ethiopia to Holland, China to Ancient Rome. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin provides a humorous yet educational introduction. This is the perfect hostess gift to bring to your Seder, which begins this year on April 19. armchair interviews.com
"This beautifully organized book takes us on a brief Passover world tour, and includes facts of great interest. As we look at our beloved Four Questions in other languages, we are marked by the strength of other cultures who are celebrating with us, in their own way, when we are at our Passover table. From France to Iran, from Italy to Sweden, from Turkey to Hungary and more, this book connects us." Jewish Journal of South Florida
"Kurshan invites us to hear the Ma Nishtana chanted in twenty-three different languages, from French to Farsi, from Latin to Latino, and from Swedish to Turkish. It is a surprise and delight to the eye to see the Four Questions in Arabic letters, the Cyrillic alphabet of the Russians, and Marathi, the Indian dialect spoken by India's Bene Israel. Kurshan puts it all in context with a brief overview of Jewish life and culture among the speakers of the various languages. It is a lovely accompaniment to any Seder." Jewish Book World
"With this tidy little book, kids and their parents can broaden their horizons and learn The Four Questions in 23 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish." New York Post, "Required Reading"
Read an Excerpt
"For many Jewish children, the Ma Nishtana represents their first public performance... What is interesting, and characteristically Jewish, is that this first public performance is composed of questions. Questions have played a critical role in Jewish life from the very beginning. In the Bible, they are often directed to God... However, unlike demanding theological questions, the Four Questions of the Ma Nishtana are directed at one's parents. And the queries presuppose that the questioner intends to observe the holiday's rituals but simply wants a greater understanding of how and why to do so.
Jewish children have been reciting the Ma Nishtana for about a hundred generations and, as this book makes clear, in many different countries. But of one thing we can be sure: As long as children a chanting these questions, the Jewish people will go on."
From the introduction by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin