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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Passover story, Twitter-style: Let's get out of here

By Tuesday afternoon, the turkey should be in the oven, the matzah balls simmering in soup, and the apples and walnuts ready to be chopped into a mixture symbolic of the mortar used by Jewish slaves to build the Pharaoh’s cities.
Tuesday evening is the second night of Passover, and I am hosting my side of the family for the seder – the service that takes place at the dinner table as participants recount the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.
Passover specifically refers to God passing over the homes of Jewish families as he brutally punished the Egyptians for their leader’s refusal to free the Jewish slaves. The seder is the retelling of the story of entire Passover story,
beginning with the birth of Moses and ending with the Jews escaping through the parted waters of the Red Sea. And, like many of the Jewish traditions with which I was raised, it’s capped off with a plenty of food.
The basic script for the seder is in a booklet called the Haggadah. Everyone takes turns reading from the book and eating or drinking the food and wine that represent various elements of the story.
My family seders run less than an hour, but the exact length depends on how much is recited in both Hebrew and English, how many verses of the numerous songs are tackled, whether my sister brings out the felt characters of Moses and the gang that enthralled the kids in their younger days, and how cold the turkey is getting.
So I had to laugh last week when a package addressed to me at the newspaper office included two copyrighted Haggadahs. One is titled “60-Minute Seder, complete Passover Haggadah.” The other is “30-Minute Seder, The Haggadah that Blends Brevity with Tradition.”
What next? The story of Passover on Twitter? “God to Moses: You can do it! Moses to Pharoah: Let my people go! Moses to Jews: No time to let the bread to rise; let’s get out of here!”

Friday, April 11, 2014

Congrats to poet Rogoff, Jay; and to Northshire books: Hooray

Jay Rogoff
Jay Rogoff, who teaches at Skidmore College, is practically family when it comes to The Saratogian, as he has been writing about dance and other topics for some time. So I’m pleased to post this unabashed plug for his April 17 reading and book signing at Northshire Bookstore.
The occasion for this 7 p.m. event is the publication of “Venera,” Rogoff’s fifth book of poetry. Congratulations, Jay.
This is also a good a time as any to sing the praises of Northshire Bookstore, one of the best things to happen to downtown Saratoga Springs. This second location for the Manchester, Vt.-based independent store instantly became a welcome hub for residents and visitors of all ages.
I appreciate how Northshire brings in all kinds of writers, some offering readings, signings and demonstrations (like Annette Nielsen’s cooking tips) at the 424 Broadway store, and others packing in audiences at Skidmore College and the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Two Northshire events that I especially enjoyed were the insightful, conversational interview with Richard Russo conducted by Isaac Pulver, director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, and the Q&A with Doris Kearns Goodwin conducted by WAMC’s wonderful Joe Donahue.
To keep up with events sponsored by Northshire Bookstore, visit

Monday, April 7, 2014

ESPN's Jay Bilas made me the biggest loser -- and winner -- in March Madness office pool

I’m a loser -- and a winner!
Thanks to using the NCAA bracket by ESPN’s Jay Bilas in my office pool, I won back my $5 entry fee for being the biggest loser – by far.
Thanks, Mr. Bilas.
Or maybe I should thank my husband. Each year on the eve of the pool deadline, he reads off the matches and I pick my winners based on uniform colors (UNC’s powder blue), cities where friends live (Pittsburgh), school names (like St. Joe’s, for my son Joe), alma maters (Ohio State), and schools I teach at (University at Albany).
This year, however, we were running in opposite directions and pressed for time, so my husband did his own picks (loser) and handed me “my picks” based 100 percent on the picks by Jay Bilas (biggest loser). Why not? Bilas has successfully played, coached and covered the game. On the cover of his book, “Toughness: Developing True Strength on and off the Court,” Bilas is billed as the “ESPN Basketball Analyst” and he’s holding a basketball.  

But last week, well before they were down to the Final Four, my place was secured as low woman in The Saratogian and The Record’s combined March Madness pool. Today it becomes official, and I get five bucks – which, if he reads this, I will have to give to my husband, who fronted the money in the first place. Thank you, dear. And thank you, Mr. Bilas.