Sanctifying Our Gathering
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Sanctifying Our Gathering
Hinay ma tov umah na’im shevet achim gam yachad.
How good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity. (Psalm 133)
KADESH: SANCTIFYING OUR GATHERING
A central symbol of the Passover seder—literally an “order”— is four cups of wine or grape juice, representing different stages of the seder. We move from gathering to hearing other people’s stories, then to sharing our own exodus narratives, and finally to song. Let us fill the first cup, the cup of gathering, and consider why we are here.
Refugees are people who escape war, violence, or persecution in their home countries and seek protection in other countries.
Their persecution may be based on race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Nearly all Jews have ancestors who have been refugees. The Passover story tells of Jewish refugees who escaped slavery and threats against their lives in Egypt and sought protection in the land of Israel.
Since 2007, Israeli activists, progressive Jewish organizations, and African refugee and asylum seeker communities have united to hold a communal “Refugee Seder” in Israel each year. The participants celebrate a renewed commitment to working together for freedom. At this seder here today, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel who pursue freedom.
We say the blessing and drink the cup of gathering.
Blessed is the creator of the fruit of the vine.
From COEJL’s “Preparing for Passover: Readings for the Seder Table”
Stewart Vile Tahl, COEJL
One of Passover’s lessons is learned to distinguish between more and enough. Dayenu means “it would have been enough for us.” Often, enjoying more wealth and comfort stimulates our desire for more – more attention, more comforts, more money, more, and more, and more. Passover and the...
Pesach is many things to many people. Its customs are familiar and can be viewed with many lenses. The symbols are universal and are subject to almost any reading: social justice, class, the Holocaust, Middle East politics, American politics, agriculture, the environment, the list is endless, and the proliferation of interpretations is evidence that this is fertile territory.
A few things – maybe only two –...
Los 4 hijos son un "simbolo" de pesaj. Esta el Sabio, El Malvado, El Simple y El que no sabe preguntar.
El sabio pregunta: cuales son todas las mitzvhot de pesaj? el mayor responde con todo detalle cada una de ellas
El malvado pregunta: que es esto que hacen ustedes? el padre responde: ustedes!? como que ustedes? si vos tambien sos judio, si no fuese por D'os que nos saco de egipto, no estuvieramos...
When God sent the plague of the firstborn...all the firstborn Egyptians went to speak to their fathers and said "Everything which Moses has said has come true, don't you want us to live? Let us get the Hebrew slaves out of our homes now. Otherwise we are dead." The fathers answered "even if all of Egypt dies they are not leaving." All the firstborn gathered...
Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?
Matzo is a paradox.
Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry....
The next item on our plate is the karpas: the vegetable representing spring. Many families use a green leafy vegetable because the green makes people think about freshness, coming alive, being healthy- all the wonderful things that go along with freedom. But when families do not have enough resources they can't always get fresh fruits and vegetables. When our family lived in Eastern Europe it was also...
As we remember this struggle, we honor the midwives who were the first Jews to resist the Pharaoh. our legends tell us that Pharaoh, behaving in a way common to oppressors, tried to get Jews to collaborate in murdering their own people. He summoned the two chief midwives, Shifra and Pu'ah, and commanded them to kill newborn Jewish males at birth. He threatened the midwives with death by fire if they failed to follow...
When we bless the green parsley and dip it in the salty water, we remember the spring, and we remember the long, sad years of our slavery.
When we left Egypt,
we bloomed and sprouted,
and songs dripped from our tongues
like shimmering threads of nectar.
All green with life we grew,
who had been buried,
under toil and sorrow,
dense as bricks.
All green in...
If there is a hard, high wall and an egg that breaks against it, no matter how right the wall or how wrong the egg, I will stand on the side of the egg. Why? Because each of us is an egg, a unique soul enclosed in a fragile egg. Each of us is confronting a high wall. The high wall is the system which forces us to do the things we would not ordinarily see fit to do as individuals . . . We are all human...
A discussion can take place regarding with which of the four children each guest identifies most, followed by a consideration of which populations are currently "unable to ask," who might be considered "simple," and more. Examples for a new set of four children may include:
One who sees the pain of others and works to relieve suffering.
One who cares only about him/herself.
One who cares only about...
1) 64% felt unsafe at school due to sexual orientation
2) 44% felt unsafe at school due to gender identification
3) 42% of LGBT youth have experienced cyber bullying
4) 42% of LBGT youth say the community in which they live in is not accepting of LGBT people
5) Only 77% of LGBT youth say they know things will get better
6) 60% LGBT students report feeling unsafe at school because of...
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.
Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do. Let's pause as we wash our hands to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together.
More Clips from Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Hamotzi thanks God for bringing bread from the earth. This bread results from a partnership between God and humanity: God provides the raw materials and people harvest, grind, and bake. So too must we remember that combating human trafficking requires partnerships: among survivors, allies, lawyers, social workers, law enforcement, diplomats, people of faith…the circles of involvement are...
Our hands were touched by this water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the majesty of the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering...
The beauty of Urchatz was revealed to me during a women's seder. Each participant washed the hands of another with care and kavanah (intentionality)—and without words. The sisterhood created in the sacred silence elevates communal consciousness. How will we utilize this state of purity? V'ahavtah l're'echa kamochah - to love the other as ourself.
How will this ancient wisdom propel us...