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Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights?: "The Four Questions" Around the World Hardcover – March 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080524252X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805242522
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #999,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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." --myJewishbooks.com

"This fascinating gem of a book is a welcome addition to the many books about Passover that arrive in bookstores each year. Kurshan gives wonderful yet brief histories of Jewish lives from Ethiopia to Holland, China to Ancient Rome. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin provides a humorous yet educational introduction. This is the perfect hostess gift to bring to your Seder, which begins this year on April 19. --armchair interviews.com

"This beautifully organized book takes us on a brief Passover world tour, and includes facts of great interest. As we look at our beloved Four Questions in other languages, we are marked by the strength of other cultures who are celebrating with us, in their own way, when we are at our Passover table. From France to Iran, from Italy to Sweden, from Turkey to Hungary and more, this book connects us." --Jewish Journal of South Florida

"Kurshan invites us to hear the Ma Nishtana chanted in twenty-three different languages, from French to Farsi, from Latin to Latino, and from Swedish to Turkish. It is a surprise and delight to the eye to see the Four Questions in Arabic letters, the Cyrillic alphabet of the Russians, and Marathi, the Indian dialect spoken by India's Bene Israel. Kurshan puts it all in context with a brief overview of Jewish life and culture among the speakers of the various languages. It is a lovely accompaniment to any Seder." --Jewish Book World

"With this tidy little book, kids -- and their parents -- can broaden their horizons and learn The Four Questions in 23 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish." --New York Post, "Required Reading"

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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on March 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on March 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By Ana Tevkah on April 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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