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Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?: The Four Questions Around the World [Kindle Edition]

Ilana Kurshan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $12.99
You Save: $3.01 (19%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

This fascinating, informative, and beautifully illustrated books translates the Passover seder's Four Questions into twenty-three languages and provides capsule histories of the Jews in the countries where the languages are spoken.

The recitation of the Four Questions at the beginning of the Passover seder by the youngest participant is one of the highlights of the evening and captures its very essence: to keep the memory of the Exodus of the Jews from Egyptian slavery alive in our minds, and to teach our children about their heritage and history. This unique volume covers a variety of languages of the Jewish Diaspora—from French to Farsi, from Latin to Ladino, from Amharic to Afrikaans, from Yiddish to Swedish to Chinese. For each language a translation (and, where necessary, a transliteration) of the Four Questions is provided, accompanied by a brief overview of Jewish life and culture among the speakers of the language, and an illustrations of either historical or contemporary interest.

The perfect seder gift, Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is also an excellent introduction to Jewish history in the Diaspora for young and old alike.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


"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."

"This fascinating gem of a book is a welco...

About the Author

Ilana Kurshan's essays and reviews have appeared in Lilith, The Forward, and the World Jewish Digest, among other publications. She works for a literary agency and studies Talmud in Jerusalem, where she lives.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1526 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (November 19, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001LOEG0Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #490,742 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect gift of understanding March 8, 2008
This fascinating gem of a book is a welcome addition to the many books about Passover that arrive in the bookstores each year. More than a meal - the Seder is a Jewish ritual that entails prayer, singing, discussion, storytelling, some special ritual appetizers, four cups of wine, a full meal, more singing. The order and meaning of the Seder is presented in a Haggadah. It is customary for the youngest child capable of it to recite or chant four ritualized questions as a start to the discussion of the Passover story.

The questions begin with "Why is this night different from all other nights of the year?" In this book, Ilana Kurshan translates the Seder's Four Questions into twenty-three languages. Each translation is preceded by a black and white illustration from the country from which the language is spoken. For example, the four questions in Russian begin with a very grainy photograph of the Russian-Jewish army officers at a Passover Seder in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War. Each translation of the four questions is then followed by an informative explanation of how the Jews lived in the country in which this language was spoken. Kurshan gives wonderful yet brief histories of Jewish life from Ethiopia to Holland, China to Ancient Rome.

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin provides a humorous yet educational introduction for this book. He writes, "For many Jewish children, the Four Questions represents their first public performance. I don't know this to be true for a fact, but I would guess that the recitation of the Four Questions might have been the first time that singers such as Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, and Neil Sedaka revealed their voices in a public setting."

This is the perfect hostess gift to bring to your Seder, which begins this year on April 19th, 2008.

Armchair Interviews says: Very educational and cultural look at Passover.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WEI SHEN MO JIN WEN BU TONG YU QI TA YIE WEN? March 6, 2008
I LOVE THIS PASSOVER BOOK (but not in a romantic way, I just mean I find it to be a small treasure)... Ilana Kurshan provides insights into the Jewish dispersion around the Earth (she did not include Vulcan or Klingon or other non human languages). Included in this book are the four questions in a variety of languages with a brief note on the Jewish communities in these countries or language regions. Languages that do not use the English alphabet are also transliterated. Languages include Afrikaans, Amharic, Chinese (Mandarin transliteration), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Ladino, Latin, Marathi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and even that obscure language, YIDDISH.

Rabbi Telushkin, has a hilarious introduction in which he throws in a few Ma Nishtana jokes (you know the famous one about the Queen of England), and the fact that although most American Jews do not know Hebrew, they all know what "Ma Nishtana" means without a need for a translation.

Seder attendees... I recommend that you purchase this book and bring it to your seders. First do the questions in Ivrit, and then, if a child at the table knows French, let them do the four questions in French. If grandma knows Ladino, let her do it in Ladino, and then tell a story of Ladino speaking Jews or a memory of seders of the past. Did you invite a friend from Taiwan or mainland China? Let them read a question in Mandarin (or Cantonese if from HK). Is there a doctor in the seder? Have them do a question in Latin. This can become an annual ritual in which a question is done in a language and the child or adult must tell a story of the Jews of that linguistic community.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? April 1, 2008
What a beautiful and enriching book. One you will never tire of reading and one that promotes remembering. It causes you to think outside the box when envisioning a seder or for that matter a Jew. In times where "unity" is the theme that presidential campaigns are run on, this book invites you to unite with diversity and participate in seders throughout the world. Not only will it illuminate any bookshelf, but I would consider it an essential companion to any Haggodot. A truly special gift for any host and or hostess.
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