Assisi and its blessings
This week's portion: Naked (Acharei Mot)

Pre-Pesach miscellany; unlit candle for Tibet

Home again, home again! Italy was grand; short and sweet. We squeezed a lot of vacation out of just a few days (fairly impressive, given that Ethan was also working.) Anyway, I'm home now -- a little bit jet-lagged, but very happy to have gone. And now very happy, if a little bit overwhelmed, that Pesach is coming up so soon!

Thanks to all who've sent feedback on the new version (2008 / 5768 / version 6.0) of The Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach. (By the way, the file will always be available in the "ceremony archive" section of my website, and from here on out the latest edition will always have the filename VRHaggadah.pdf.)

A couple of quick housekeeping/troubleshooting notes: one person has reported trouble in downloading the file, and another has reported that while it downloaded just fine it's refusing to print. If anyone here has experienced similar problems, please let me know -- and if anyone here has suggestions for solving them, please drop a comment?

One of the emails in my inbox when I came home was about An Unlit Candle: Solidarity with Tibet at Passover:

During this season of freedom, the people of Tibet are groaning — and the world hears their cries.

Since 1950, the Chinese military has brutally occupied Tibet. Hundreds of thousands have died. Thousands have been jailed, tortured, raped. Countless monasteries have been destroyed.

And now, as the Chinese Olympic torch is met with protests around the globe, we call on you to join the effort to shed light on Tibet's suffering by extinguishing a torch of your own.

We call on all Jews to include an unlit candle on their Seder Tables this year. The candle symbolizes both the Olympic torch, whose light has been dimmed, and the unmet hopes of a people still living without freedom.

At the website you can learn more about the project, and/or about the people behind it. (I also recommend Rodger Kamenetz's recent Forward article Cry Out for the fate of the Tibetan People; for a fascinating set of perspectives on the political situation in/around Tibet, I recommend the coverage at Global Voices Online [Tibet].)

Jewish tradition grows by accretion, and that may be nowhere more visible than in our haggadot for Pesach. Many of us have adopted the practices of Miriam's Cup, and the orange or olive on the seder plate; now we're invited to add an unlit candle to our festival tables, too. At Pesach we celebrate liberation from Mitzrayim, the "narrow place" of slavery and constriction; what better time to become conscious of how others still struggle for freedom?

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