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We gather on Passover to recall a moment of resistance and liberation in the history of our people. The story of Exodus reminds us of the transformative power that our people wield when we confront oppression. This summer we witnessed the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of the police; in the months that followed the #BlackLivesMatter movement blossomed from that stained soil and swept the country. From Ferguson to Staten Island, Black people resisted the discriminatory and abusive policing targeting them. #BlackLivesMatter, a term coined by activists Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors & Opal Tometi, demands that we recognize the full humanity and precious value of every individual Black life — that we cherish and fight for all people of African heritage. In this spirit, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice collaborated with inspiring activists and leaders from around the country to produce this Haggadah supplement. In it you will find additions to the Seder rituals & Haggadah text intended to highlight the role we believe Jews must play in confronting racism and abusive policing. Each piece of the supplement may provoke discussion, reflection or even contention. We hope that this wrestling, thinking and feeling — in the great tradition of our people — will be a powerful part of your Seder and will lead to meaningful action for justice.
(1) How big of a problem is this?
According to the U.S. department of state, there are over 12 million slaves around the world.
(2) What is being done about the problem?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assists victims of trafficking in the United States by funding service programs and through public information campaigns.
(3) Why isn't more being done?
All Who Are Hungry
The Power of Choice
The Haggadah is asking which of two categories we fall under: Are we here because we are hungry, or are we here because we are needy?
"Need" is defined as "awareness of a lack."
Freedom is not simply something that's "nice" to have; rather it is a necessary factor to our very being. As much as we need food to exist, we...
The Wicked Child
I read the haggadah backwards this year
The sea opens,
the ancient Israelites slide back to Egypt
like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk
Freedom to slavery
That’s the real story
One minute you’re dancing hallelujah,
shaking your hips to the j-j-jangle of the prophetesses’ tambourines,
the next you’re knee deep in brown...
By Ronnie M. Horn
Long before the struggle upward begins,
there is tremor in the seed.
Roots reach down and grab hold.
The seed swells, and tender shoots
push up toward light.
This is karpas: spring awakening growth.
A force so tough it can break stone.
And why do we dip karpas into salt water?
To remember the sweat and tears of our...
Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, which Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself. (The Jewish obsession with food is...
Passover combines the celebration of an event from Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take a vegetable, in this case parsely, to represent our joy at the dawning of spring after...
Rumi, the Persian poet of the soul, understands the meaning of love in this way:
Your task is not to seek love
But merely to seek and ﬁnd all the barriers
That you have built against it.
The same can be said of freedom; we build barriers against it, barriers born of fear-fear of death, fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear...
We are free, but we remember when we were slaves. We are whole, but we bring to mind those who are broken. The middle matzah is broken, but it is the larger part which is hidden. Because the future will be greater than the past, and tomorrow’s Passover nobler than yesterday’s exodus. The prospects for the dreamed future are overwhelming to the point of making us mute. So it is in silence, without blessing, that we...
Maimonides urged us to care for our bodies so that we would be free to concentrate our energies on God. In the modern world, one of the greatest threats to our physical health is mental stress. Stress causes insomnia, digestive problems, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, depression, memory impairment and countless other complications. As women, we are particularly vulnerable to the stress caused by multiple and...
More Clips from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Having now told the story of Jews’ Exodus from Mitzrayim we have come to know Miriam, Moses, Pharaoh, Tzipporah and the role each of them played. Sarah Barasch-Hagans & Graie Barasch-Hagans use these roles to help us understand our roles in the fight against oppression — when we are strong allies and when we still struggle to be our best selves.
Singing Dayenu is a 1000-year old Passover tradition. The 15-stanza poem thanks G-d for 15 blessings bestowed upon the Jews in the Exodus. Had G-d only parted the seas for us, “It would have been enough” we say for each miracle or divine act, thus humbly appreciating the immensity of the gifts. KB Frazier’s reworking of the poem addresses us, rather than G-d. It calls us to greater action for justice, saying...
As we open the door for the Prophet Elijah, Graie Barasch-Hagans asks us to love and support the stranger, the beggar and the familial in our struggle for collective liberation, and to recognize that these three peoples are often one and the same.
As Jews we come together in our most vulnerable moments. We come as community to support our mourners in our synagogues and in our homes. As Black folks we have come to...