(March 21, 2021, JNS Wire)
South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and his family have launched a new podcast series that brings listeners into their home as they share, debate, and contemplate what the Haggadah means for them in preparation for Passover.
The objective of The Goldstein Family Podcast is to engage and inspire families around the world to make their Seder experience as interactive and meaningful as possible.
“Pesach, perhaps more than any other chag, needs preparation work,” Rabbi Goldstein says. “It’s not just the cleaning of our homes, and of our minds and habits. The Seder itself requires concerted preparation if we are to successfully transmit its teachings.”
The podcast arrives at a timely moment, with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis still being felt around the world and most families expecting to hold quieter, more intimate Seders than usual.
“Without all the fanfare, there is a real opportunity here — to connect with the ancient words of the Haggadah, and with the dramatic story of our people, in ways we’ve never done before,” says Rabbi Goldstein.
In this eight-part series, Chief Rabbi Warren and Gina Goldstein and their children, Mordi and his wife Avigayil, Levi, Shayna, and Azi, go through the entire Haggadah together in lively debate and discussion — covering everything from the four sons, the four questions, and the 10 plagues, to matzah, maror (bitter herbs), and the Korban Pesach (Passover sacrifice).
According to Rabbi Goldstein, “We have shared and talked it through as a family, crystalizing the themes of the Haggadah, and getting a deeper sense of the actual Pesach story — so that by the time Seder night comes, we will be primed for the experience.”
Gina Goldstein sees these discussions as a way to gain a deeper understanding not just of Passover, but of her own children.
“I’m still passionately curious about my children,” she says. “There’s nothing I enjoy more than probing their inquiring minds and having creative and intelligent conversations with them. Also, I find that the Torah has answers to all of my deepest questions. For me, our family podcast brings both of these passions together.”
What all the Goldstein children appreciate most is the space to ask questions and to express their opinions not just about the Passover story but about Judaism in general. Rabbi Goldstein says the Haggadah is designed to stimulate this curiosity and discussion.
“We kick off the Maggid section of the Seder with Ma Nishtana, the four questions, traditionally recited by the youngest child. This interactive format continues throughout the Seder,” says Rabbi Goldstein. “The clear message here is that the Seder is a discussion rather than a ritual, a real dialogue. And it’s this spirit of dynamic exchange that we hope to bottle in the podcast.”
“There’s a spark that ignites Jewish families when we relate the ancient but eternally relevant story of our origins as a people,” he continues, “a spiritual energy that creates an everlasting connection between parents and children, and with our Jewish heritage, like nothing else can.”
Rabbi Goldstein hopes the podcast will help listeners guide their own pre-Pesach family discussions in preparation for the Seder experience.
“By familiarizing ourselves with the Seder’s rhythm — by acquiring the knowledge and insights necessary to live the story in a fresh new way — we can make the Seder the electrifying experience it’s designed to be. And charge a new generation of Jews with our eternal values and sacred heritage.”