Why are we gathered here?
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Why are we gathered here?
Thank you for joining us as we gather tonight to read the words of this Haggadah that has been designed to tell the story of Passover, guide us as we hear of the how the Jewish people were freed from being slaves in Egypt and engage us to think about our very own freedom.
For over 2000, the Jewish people have celebrated the Exodus from Egypt. Back nearly 4000 years ago, our people were slaves in the land of Egypt. Today we are free. Yet, there are many others who are not. We keep our prayers with these people in the wish that one day, they too will be free.
As history tells it, on a night such as this, our ancestors went forth out of Egypt, leaving behind slavery. Tonight we celebrate their freedom and ours. May this seder tonight inspire us and our children to light the torch of freedom for all the world.
There is a word in Hebrew — Teshuvah — that means return. It is an acknowledgement that there is always a chance for forgiveness, redemption and change. Our traditions teach that Passover is open to all. Everyone is welcome at this table. There is always room. Because no one is ever turned away, there is always an opportunity for a rebirth of spirit.
As a sign of hospitality to all, we open the door to our...
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent ourmatriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate usfrom slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds:physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cupsrepresent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out,...
Use this piece in tandem with the telling of the Exodus story. Think about the connection between the Jewish story of Exodus from Egypt to more contemporary examples of persecution and forced migration. How did the formation of the territory now known as the United States depend upon the forced migration of people already residing on the land?
The Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt is a climactic...
I write this year’s Prologue as Israel is going to the polls to decide whether to replace its present right-wing prime minister with the Zionist Union, a center-left political alliance. Whatever the outcome, chances are that Israel’s recent history of fractured politics and short-lived coalitions will probably continue. But why am I writing about Israel? you might ask. Aren’t there enough issues here at home for...
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE ACTIVIST CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the...
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...
By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder alternadox.net
Later on we will do 'rachtzah'─the washing over the matzah. Now we are doing 'urchatz', which amounts to washing before eating a vegetable. This is not something we do every day.
To explain, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, writes of dividing life...
By Rabbi Melissa Klein, Rabbi Joanna Katz, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Rabbi Jo Hirschmann, Susan Kaplow, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell
This year, we add a padlock and a key to our seder plate.
Those of us who are blessed to live in our own homes tend to associate locks and keys with protection and access. Many of us have homes that keep us safe and that allow us to go in and out as we please. In contrast, for more...
We sanctify the name of God and proclaim the holiness of this festival of Passover. With a blessing over wine, we lift our wine, our symbol of joy; let us welcome the festival of Passover.
In unison, we say…
Our God and God of our ancestors, we thank You for enabling us to gather in friendship, to observe the Festival of Freedom. Just as for many centuries the Passover Seder has brought together families...
Use this piece before singing Hallel and think about what it means to transition from slavery to freedom.
Exodus and Liberation translate many different ways for different communities, religious groups, and individuals. Chief Tom Dostou of the Wabanaki Nation of Massachusetts offers the following prayer in an excerpt from a larger piece describing his journey across his ancestral homeland of “Turtle...
Shared by Rabbi Yael Levy
We’ve been bound by a hardened heart
And our inability to see ourselves in each other.
We have been puffed up by ego and pride.
Enslaved by how things have always been.
And now it is time to go.
But fear threatens to paralyze.
How can we possibly exist any other way?
Our imagination falters
The attachment to what we know is so great
Passover is a holiday with many different themes. This breadth ensures that no two seders will ever be exactly alike and encourages each of us to engage equally, whether this is the first or hundredth seder you’ve attended. It also challenges each of us to connect to the seder on a personal, individual level. The themes offered are just a sampling, what other themes are you drawn to?
Redemption: In the...
More Clips from Adrienne Jacobson
The Seder Plate
Think of the Seder Plate as a “combination plate” dinner that formed the meal in ancient days. The foods were not merely symbolic, but were eaten—from the plate. As the Seder menu changed, the foods on the Seder Plate required explanation. (clockwise from the upper-right-of-center)
Zeroa (shankbone), represents the Passover offering made in Temple times.