This extraordinary Hagadah will enrich and restore meaning to any seder. Fruits of Freedom reveals the forgotten roots of the seder in the history of Jewish food and agriculture, using broad scholarship to bring new vigor and excitement to this ancient ritual with the respectful use of science and history. Much of this information has never been published before. Readers will learn how the Ten Plagues discredited the Egyptian sun god Ra and his daughter, the beer goddess Hathor. Three versions of the seder plate reflect three reasons for the seder; the dozens of charoset recipes express seven meanings of the Exodus. Illustrations of animals in old Hagadot express one feeling that could not be revealed publicly in medieval Spain, and another in sixteenth-century Germany. Surprising wisdom appears in every detail from the choice of vegetables for karpas and maror to the roasting of the Paschal lamb and the custom of leaning to the left. What Does it Mean? sidebars explore customs with multiple meanings. Over 90 lavish award-winning and original photographs enliven and clarify the beautifully designed text.
Readers of all religious inclinations, foodies, and environmentalists will find much to celebrate and learn from in this major new publication. The author’s extensive experience as an agricultural scientist and educator animates an entertaining and informative commentary that makes science and Torah scholarship vivid and understandable to all. Learned readers and those who would like to delve deeper will appreciate the extensive footnotes and appendices that lead to the original sources without cluttering the commentary. Prominent rabbis, food historians, and biblical ethnobotanists have enthusiastically approved Fruits of Freedom. Readers who have visited TorahFlora.org or attended a Torah Flora event will recognize the clear, often humorous explanations that are respectful of both Torah and the findings of science.
Praise for Fruits of Freedom
This is truly a magnificent haggadah. We have so many commentaries on words in Jewish life. But this is also a commentary on the physicality of the seder — on food and food traditions, land and the natural world. It is unique and engaging, and also beautifully designed. This haggadah will enrich people’s seders for decades to come.
Nigel Savage, President and CEO
Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability
Dr. Jon Greenberg’s Haggadah, Fruits of Freedom, is a treat. Both edifying and enjoyable, revealing and readable, his commentary places many of the significant themes of the Haggadah and the Seder in scientific and historical context. Infused with Jewish scholarship and scientific expertise, Dr. Greenberg’s refreshing approach successfully mines contemporary thought for a greater understanding and appreciation of tradition.
Rabbi Menachem Genack
Executive Director, OU Kosher and Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University
In Fruits of Freedom, Jon Greenberg offers us his erudition and insights to make the Seder experience richer and more “verdant.” He approaches familiar questions with a new body of literature on flora and fauna, adding a welcome and meaningful lens to a master narrative and a central Jewish ritual.
Dr. Erica Brown
Associate Professor of Curriculum and Pedagogy
George Washington School of Education and Human Development
Director, Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership
The Torah Flora Hagadah, Fruits of Freedom, is a labor of love. If you are interested in food, study this Haggadah before your seder. You will learn so much and deepen your seder. Science educator and agricultural scientist Jon Greenberg explores forgotten meanings of the bitter herbs, haroset, and all the other edible imagery of the Passover seder through the history of Jewish food and agriculture.
Author of King Solomon’s Table, A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World
It takes a nervy, courageous soul to tackle the busy intersection of faith, tradition, and science. Inspiring readers to risk a closer look at the elements of the Seder mandated a scholar-of-note, a passionate, Torah-loving, and skillful storyteller who respects the wisdom of sages and contemporaries; I found Dr. Greenberg to be that unique communicator. I was captivated by his insights. Pesach will never be the same. I will remember the taste and texture of this treatise for the remainder of my life. I recommend this publication without reserve. It will surely occupy a special place in biblical flora studies for years to come.
Dr. Ed Bez, President
Biblical Botanical Gardens Society, Jacksonville, FL
Full of surprising facts and inspiring insights, Torah Flora’s fresh perspective on the Haggadah reminds us just how much history and meaning can be found in every detail of Jewish practice — and how important history is to understanding the eternal meaning of halacha. Matzah takes on new significance in the context of ancient Egypt’s fascination with fermentation. The symbolic power of maror is enriched by a breakdown of the properties of different maror species. All in all, Jon Greenberg has done an incredible job combining his expertise in agronomy and his passion for Jewish learning to create a novel Haggadah that is sure to spark conversation at any seder.
Rabbi David Fohrman, Dean
Aleph Beta Academy
A fascinating commentary on every detail of the Passover Seder, rooted in the author’s deep knowledge of the natural and agricultural world of the Bible and Talmud. This is a green approach that deepens our understanding of Judaism’s abiding relationship to the land of Israel.
Jo Ann Gardner
Author of Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants
I was impressed by this comprehensive work that presents diverse and engaging observations about the Hagadah from a new and interesting perspective.
Prof. Zohar Amar
Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology,
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Amazing! Fruits of Freedom got me hooked. It is appealing, engaging, and clearly and beautifully written. This Hagadah gives the full measure of the deep origins and purposefulness of food, its holiness, its timelessness, and its inseparability from our relationship with God. Dr. Greenberg’s writing embodies the saying that every letter in Scripture has meaning. I greatly admired his exhaustive exploration of the botanical, culinary, and spiritual aspects of food and its intimate connection to Torah. Foods of mourning are recast as symbols of joy and thanksgiving. The connotations of chametz or karpas alone form a tiny universe, giving organic life to ancient events, and making them timeless, current, and approachable. Discovering the secret language of each food will fascinate both scholars and ordinary readers like me.
Chef, co-owner of Levana Restaurant, and author of The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen and other cookbooks
Links to Published Reviews
Jewish Link Feb. 11, 2021