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Passover list

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Hard boil a couple dozen eggs, clean kitchen shelves, empty refrigerator (eeecchhh, what is that?), dig up the haggadot… no, not that list.

I’m talking about the truth (which may or may not set you free, as we’ve discussed amongst ourselves here and here) list – stay with me, folks – as freedom’s been on my mind as of late. I’ve been thinking about a ritual we’ve done twice at our Seder table where each guest is asked to bring a physical object that signifies freedom to them. I showed up both times with a pen. And thinking about my choice of pen brought me straight to writing and that brought me to truth-telling and so here we are…

As my way of preparing for Passover, I’ve compiled a very partial list of people who with their pen, voice, or other utensil, are truth-tellers and by extension, help me with my own liberation from the narrow straits of silence. They appear in no particular order. I welcome additions.

1. Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Freedom Seder writer, Shalom Center founder, prophet who speaks plainly of modern-day Pharaohs and global scorching, and who, in a moment of deep and personal peace-making added the name Yishmael/Ishmael to his own.

2. Emily Hauser, fellow (sister?) blogger whose writings about American politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and things personal always wows me. She curses (tastefully, of course) on line. This impresses me, but it’s not the only reason you should visit.

3. Bruce Solomon, my spouse and all-around truly nice man. He can deliver the most astonishingly bad news or hard truths with tact and compassion. I still haven’t learned a damn thing from him about how to do this, even after almost 14 years.

4. Poets, oh poets! So many to name. Here are a few of my favorites: Yehuda Amichai, Larry Levis, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Stephen Dunn, Alicia Ostriker, Martin Espada.

5. Margaret Atwood. Read Oryx and Crake or The Robber Bride and let her writing rock your world! There isn’t a cliche or pat answer anywhere to be found in her words.

6. M.J. Rosenberg may be the mostly widely read blogger on the Middle East (or this just could be my fantasy). A former AIPAC staff member, he has an in-your-face style and is always principled. If M.J. makes me wince, I try to pay attention.

7. Leonard Cohen. Read the lyrics to If It Be Your Will. Also buy a copy of Jane Siberry’s Love is Everything, sung by k.d. laing in her fabulous tailored suits, on iTunes. It is worth the $1.99.

8. Michael Moore. Yes, he can be obnoxious, over the top, and self-absorbed (who among us doesn’t have our moments?), but he says out loud what many of us think. When he put up yellow crime scene tape around banks in Capitalism: A Love Story, I was with him 100%.

9. My friends Aviva, Julie, Jessica, Amy, Madi, Cheryl, and all the other women who I can count on to tell me the truth (or not) as circumstances warrant.

10. Joe Biden — for saying to the President that health care reform is (and I quote here) a big fucking deal. You got that right, brother.


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