Kosher Bookworm

Readings selected for a meaningful Pesach


The Pesach Seder may be the most observed family ritual on the Jewish calendar. Accordingly, many books deal with Pesach observances, and I’ve referenced several in recent columns.

This week’s choice is “As If We Were There” (Kodesh Press, 2016) by Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein, whose writing can be found at one of the most distinguished websites, Gil Student’s

This book is a reflection of the rabbi’s learned background.

“I grew up in environments that stressed the importance of being fully committed to the Torah, its practice, and values as well as being involved with taking from, and contributing to, all that was good and positive in the not-specifically Jewish world,” he told me. “My father was educated at Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and Brooklyn College. He eventually became a lawyer. My teachers were all men who embodied a similarly balanced life, such as Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, Prof. Isadore Twersky, and Rabbi Dr. Haym Soloveitchik.”

Regarding the Pesach experience, he shares the following:

“Another piece of personal background is reflected in just how impactful my father’s Seder was to me and, I think, all his children. It was a night when he shone, particularly in terms of conveying to children of all ages the need to engage and to make the story of the exodus experience as reflected in the Haggadah text relevant as one’s own.

“As I approach Pesach each year, I think of ways to do that for myself, my family, and — when I have an audience — those who come to my shi’urim. That was what led me, one year, to offer a series of lectures on the first chapters of Shemot, a sense that we tell the Exodus story on Seder night without, for many of us, knowing that story all that well.

Originally published in 2016.