Hallel is a collection of psalms thanking God for redeeming us from Egypt, and asking God to continue to save and help us. At our seder we have talked about injustice and pain in the world, and how we might be redeemed, but we also want to be thankful for the progress we have already seen.
Go around the table and ask each person to name one hard thing that happened—in the world, or to them personally, or...
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
We raise this second cup in Openness.
Some of what we hear tonight may feel difficult for some of us to process, but we reaffirm our openness to staying in this moment and learning from others around us.
ָּ Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
Blessed are You, Source of All Life, Spirit of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
As Jews, we tell the story of yetziat mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, to remind ourselves annually that our people were enslaved in a land not our own. The classical Ashkenazi haggadah text goes even further. It declares that:
ְ Be'chol dor va’dor chayav adam lirot et atzmo ke’ilu hu yatzah miMitzrayim
“In every generation, we are obligated to see ourselves as though we personally came...
The Shehecheyanu blessing gives thanks for the arrival of any momentous time, often a holiday or a new beginning. This year, we recite the Shehecheyanu at a time of momentous tumult and pain. We grieve the killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Raphael Briscoe, and far too many more Black and brown men and women, boys and girls. We stand with our brothers and sisters protesting in the streets...
￼BLACK LIVES MATTER is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
- Alicia Garza
Most of us only sing a few of the final stanzas at our seder, but Dayenu actually has 15 stanzas representing the 15 gifts God bestowed. The first five involve freeing the Jews from slavery, the next describe the miracles He did for them, and the last five for the closeness to God He gave them. Each of the stanzas is followed by the word "Dayenu" (it would have been enough) sung repeatedly. The 15 stanzas are as...
The whole point of the seder is to ask questions. This is your time to ask about things that confuse you, things you don’t understand, or even things you don’t agree with. There really is no is no such thing as a stupid question, especially tonight.
- Joy Levitt (age 16)
Questions are not only welcome during the course of the evening but are vital to tonight’s journey....
by Dan Berger
Though my family would never admit it, one of my first lessons in oppression and resistance came at Seders. Sitting around the table with my grandmother, who survived Auschwitz; my mother, who was raised by two survivors; and my father, who teaches Holocaust studies -- Passover had a very political character to it for me. Resistance was portrayed as a natural and necessary outgrowth of brutal...
[Yiddish for: In Struggle]
by Margot Meitner
Passover is my favorite chag (holiday). It’s the one in which I have always taken the opportunity to make a STATEMENT: Sometimes a political statement about my personal life; other times a personal statement about my political life. There was the time I plopped an orange on the Seder plate (representing the role of women in Judaism), or the...
by Mark Silverman
My early years immersed me in a Judaism of male dominance in life and at the seder table, inevitably enticing me to gulp my glasses of real wine as a way of dulling the scene, blurring the edges, until the final songs sent me off to bed in a not unpleasant stupor. Dayenu!
Later, still a child but more aware, I saw the family kowtow to my father, a Yeshiva boy who went secular except...
by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Horseradish is hard to find in the hinterlands outside Gallup NM. On this dry bit of Earth, next to what's left of Navajo/Hopi/Zuni lands, Pesach was clearly going to be a new experience. I had taken the year off from Brandeis to join the Global Walk for a Livable World 1990, figuring the truest education would be to "get up and walk the land" (Gen. 13:17), and to "serve and...
by Lisa/Leah Russ
I dreaded passover growing up. It seemed boring and oppressive and... dreadful with the emphasis on DREAD. I never really named it, but felt somewhere in my hungry gut that this wasn't a great place to be...my grandparents’ overheated undersized apartment in Queens, with these flat books in our hands, these hollow songs, this jelly on my fish.
A couple of years ago I was at a...
by Julie Iny
Some Jews prepare for Pesach by getting rid of all their hametz. Last year, I inadvertently created a ritual for a near reenactment of the 40 days and 40 nights our people spent wandering in the desert when I decided to learn how to make halaik, the date syrup that is the critical and divine ingredient of Iraqi charoset.
In years past, my Aunt Rachel, keeper of many Iraqi and...
by Deirdre Silverman
For me, the recent meaning of Passover in my life has been a reclaiming of the seder ceremony away from the patriarchal tradition. My children may remember the seders of their early childhood, conducted by their grandfather entirely in Hebrew, incomprehensible to most in attendance, unvarying from year to year, except for how long it took until the children were sent away from the table...
by Stosh Cotler
I had danced for D before- a leather butch who came into my club with her old school, high femme wife and their entourage. That particular night, the Saturday before Passover, I sat with their crew after my table dance for D, and was shocked when D’s lover started talking about Seder arrangements. Immediately, I outed myself as a Jew, which caused a huge burst of excitement at the table- imagine...
We’re so glad you can join us. The word “haggadah” means “telling”, and refers to the story of the Exodus that we read at Passover. As you may soon notice, there is a bit more in here than the traditional Passover story. There are stories from some of our friends about what Passover means to them. There is a glossary and a resource list, and lots of commentary. We aimed high and have pulled out quite a bit of...
by cynthia greenberg
leaving is the easy part
not where to run, how to get there
children pulling at your hems
so many bags to carry
which way in the dark will you wander
what star use as your guide
stepping out into the uncertain sands
it is more than the worry of food, shelter, water, food
what will become of us
this is what...
(With care, singable to the traditional tune. Do Mic-check style.)
Each Passover Seder Teaches:
Celebrate each step toward Freedom,
At the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin
100,000 Resisted Union-bustin’:
In New York City Dozens Tented
Calling out to “Occupy Wall Street”:
Then Hundreds Walked on Brooklyn...
“The ten plagues of the Exodus story were all ecological disasters.
The Plagues were not lightning-bolts flung by a Super-Pharaoh in the sky, but eco-disasters brought about by the arrogance and stubbornness of a top-down, unaccountable ruler, Pharaoh.
“In the ancient past, the Plagues interrupted the flow of food to human beings and other life-forms. In the...
Everyone takes a piece of raw horse-radish.
Question: Why do we eat this Bitterness?
“So the Tight Place made the God-wrestlers subservient with crushing-labor; they embittered their lives with hard servitude in clay and in bricks and with all kinds of servitude in the field, all their serfdom in which they made them subservient with crushing-labor. (Exodus 1: 13-14.)
Invite the phrases that...
Take sprigs of parsley, dip them in salt water, pass them around the table, and say:
Question: “Why do we eat these greens, and why do we dip them in salt water?
“Because in the spring the Earth sprouts green and fertile, and in the salt seas life began.”
Blessed are you, Yahh our God, Breathing Spirit of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.
[Everyone then eats this piece...
After singing and a few short talks / conversation about the reason they are there, they return to the original gathering-place for an —
INTERFAITH FREEDOM SEDER FOR THE EARTH
We take into ourselves the foods & meanings of the Seder.
First question : “Mah nishtanah haSeder hazeh miKol Sedarim? Why is this Seder different from all other Seders?” Because every other Seder recalls...
WISDOM FOR THE JOURNEY
“I felt as if my legs were praying.”
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, coming back home from the voting-rights March in Selma, Alabama, 1965
“Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.”
— Rabbi Abraham Joshua...
Was unterscheidet diese Nacht von allen anderen Nächten?
In allen anderen Nächten brauchen wir nicht ein einziges Mal einzutunken, in dieser Nacht zweimal.
In allen anderen Nächten können wir Gesäuertes und Ungesäuertes essen, in dieser Nacht nur Ungesäuertes.
In allen anderen Nächten können wir verschiedene Kräuter essen, in dieser Nacht nur...
- Our template for a Traditional Passover Haggadah. Hebrew, Translations & Transliterations included, plus several historical photographs and original illustrations by Will Deutsch and Hillel Smith.
- An ongoing compilation of some of our favorite content by & about women. The haggadah includes contributions form Alicia Jo Rabins, Alexandra Benjamin, Ritualwell, Jewish Women's Archive and more.
“Why is this night different from all other nights?”
The question is central to the telling of the Passover story and is followed in the traditional Seder with four more that elaborate on the holiday rituals:
1. On all other nights we eat either leavened and unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only unleavened bread?
2. On all other...
This fifth cup of wine has passed down through generations of women, beginning with Sarah. It has spilled and, yet, like the bush on fire but never consumed, the glass continues to overflow. The Kabbalists (the Maharal, 16th c., Prague) believe that we drink 4 cups of wine in memory of our 4 matriarchs. The fifth cup, named for Miriam who led us through the straights of Reed Sea in song and dance, is in memory of...
For the chief musician, on common instrument: a song of rebellion.
Praise rising up. Praise unlawful assembly.
Praise the road of excess and the palace of wisdom.
Praise glass houses. Praise the hand that cradles the stone.
Praise refusal of obedience. Praise the young on Raamses Street.
Praise Galileo. Praise acceleration.
Praise bombshells and en masse.
We are grateful that we are together on this night as a family ~ Dayenu
We are grateful that we are together to share this moment ~ Dayenu
We are grateful that we are together, alive and healthy ~ Dayenu
We are grateful that we are able to eat together ~ Dayenu
We are grateful that we have a light...
While our tradition applies specific meaning to the four cups of wine found within the Passover seder, many modern Haggadot have begun to reinterpret the original four cups.
The four cups are derived from four expressions of redemption found in Exodus 6:6-7: “I will bring you out;” “I will deliver you;” “I will redeem you;” and “I will take you.” Due to the positive,...
This reading takes place near the beginning of the Seder in the yachatz section. It provides the primary textual inspiration for feeding the hungry during Passover, as well as calling for an end to slavery, which continues to exist around the world in various forms. It also prompts us to join together with members of the African American community for communal Seders recognizing our common experience of...
This song, found in the Seder, thanks God for the myriad miracles that took place at the time of the Exodus. “Dayenu” can also allow us to express our gratitude for all that has taken place in recent times. In 1988, CLAL (The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership) produced this modern version of
Dayenu to recall the many miracles of the modern state of Israel. This reading speaks of...
To highlight the continuing existence of slaver, spiritual
leaders and families may use the following original prayer, written Rabbi Joel Soffin of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, NJ, while holding up a fourth piece of matzah:
"We raise this fourth matzah to remind ourselves that slavery still exists, that people are still being bought and sold as property, that the Divine image within them is yet being...
In every generation, each of us should feel as though we ourselves had gone forth from Egypt.
In every generation, each of us should feel as though we ourselves had been freed from bondage.
In every generation, each of us should feel as though we ourselves fought for humane conditions in the workplace....
As we recite the plagues, we pour out ten drops of wine, lessening our joy, to remember the plagues set upon Egypt. In today’s world, there are many societal cruelties and injustices that can cause us to diminish our joy. Many Haggadot contain listings of modern day plagues, such as AIDS, breast cancer, child poverty, domestic violence, environmental destruction, homelessness, homophobia, hunger, illiteracy, and...
This reading allows for much creativity in the text and inclusion of social action themes or questions. Families might permit time for additional questions to be posed to the group, with opportunities for all to answer. Examples might include:
1. Why on this night are some people still enslaved today?
2. Why on this night do so many remain hungry in the world?
3. Why on this night do we invite the...
Following Operation Solomon, the Ethiopian Jews who arrived in Israel were unable to digest much substantial food. Thus, Israel’s doctors fed the new immigrants simple boiled potatoes and rice, until their systems could take more food.
To commemorate this at the Seder, you may choose to eat small red potatoes, alongside the parsley, for Karpas. Announce to those...
This new custom celebrates Miriam’s role in the deliverance from slavery and her help throughout the wandering in the wilderness. An empty cup is placed alongside Elijah’s cup. Each attendee at the Seder then pours a bit of his/her water into the cup, symbolizing Miriam’s life-giving well that followed the wandering Israelites. With this new custom, we recognize that women are equally integral to the...
This section of the Haggadah focuses on our hopes for the peace and redemption of messianic times, while also reminding us of what we can do l’taken et haolam, to repair the world in our own time. By way of example, North Shore Congregation Israel of Glencoe, IL’s Women’s Seder includes the following passage to be read while opening the door for Elijah. This reading reminds us that there are...
Amidst the retelling of the exodus from Egypt, additional
stories can be shared surrounding the oppression or redemption of other peoples, such as the rescue of Ethiopian Jews10 during the 1980’s, the emigration of Soviet Jewry during the 1970’s and 1980’s, and current groups still found in slavery, such as those in Sudan.
This reading allows for much personal identification and further
interpretation in the text. 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...
Alongside the traditional items on the Seder Plate, try some of these modern additions.
Following Operation Solomon, the Ethiopian Jews who arrived in Israel were unable to digest much substantial food. Thus, Israel's doctors fed the new immigrants simple boiled potatoes and rice, until their systems could take more food. To commemorate this at the Seder, you may choose to eat small red potatoes, alongside the...
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
The karpas gives us the tension between the aliveness of Spring and the bitter tears we wept in the land of Egypt. We are refreshed by the greenness of the karpas, yet our tastebuds wince at the salt water to dip them in, as we recall our own experience of being strangers. Our tongues push our thoughts towards those who are made strangers in our...
Breaking the matzah
There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally "dessert." After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen.
Reader 1: Ha lachma...
Fun fact: Persian and Afghani Jews hit each other over the heads and shoulders with scallions every time they say Dayenu! They especially use the scallions in the ninth stanza which mentions the manna that the Israelites ate everyday in the desert, because Torah tells us that the Israelites began to complain about the manna and longed for onions, leeks and garlic. Feel free to be Persian/Afghani for the evening if...
Now let's talk about the ten plagues. There was no dipping of fingers in wine. We were much too refined for that! My mother would walk up to my father with a large bowl and a glass of water. My father would recite the plagues one by one, and for each plague he would pour a bit of wine in the bowl from a special large wineglass, and my mother would pour a bit of the water. It was all done under the table - nobody...
Sephardim recite the Four Questions in the following order:
1. "On all other nights, we do not dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?"
2. "On all other nights we eat bread or matzah. Why on this night do we eat only matzah?
3. "On all other nights, we eat all kinds of herbs. Why on this night do we eat only maror?...
In ancient times our people were farmers and shepherds. In this festive season, we are meant to feel a connection with the food we eat from the land and to remember that we are surrounded by blessings and miracles no less majestic than those our ancestors witnessed thousands of years ago. Spring reminds us that we are again given a chance for renewal; a new chance to create...
Welcome to our Harry Potter Seder! This will hopefully be a fun version of the traditional family seder. We are still going to go through the important parts of the Seder: Kiddush, The Four Questions, We Were Slaves, Four Children, Ten Plagues, and the rest. Hold on to your brooms! We are now going to celebrate the holiday of Passover together!
From singing Dayenu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our people's journey. Yet we must never confuse these way stations with the goal. Because it is not yet Dayenu. There is still so much to do in our work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.
When governments end the escalating production of devastating weapons, secure in the knowledge that they will not be necessary, Dayenu.
When all women and men...
Remember the days of old:consider the years of many generations (Deut. 32:7)
Every year, hundreds of giant sea turtles swim hundreds of miles from their homes near Brazil to a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean in order to find their mates. For years, scientists tried to understand how the turtles could find their way every time, from so far away. It was a tiny island, and even airplanes sometimes had trouble...
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?
By Avigayil Halpern
Blood: Young girls tuck tampons quickly into backpacks, secret them in purses, hide them in Ugg boots. It’s not blue dye that the river is running with, and periods are more trouble than the pamphlet in that goody bag from middle-school health class would leave one to believe. “It’s beautiful to be female,” we’re told, but nobody...
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 or our contacts when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE REVOLUTIONARY CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”
Empower him always to seek pathways...
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
It doesn’t matter that it...
1939 Gad Beck, a gay Jewish teenager living in Hitler’s Germany joins the Jewish underground, smuggling food, arranging housing and helping Jews escape from Berlin, often by bribing German officials.
1955-1956 Poet Alan Ginsberg authors “Howl,” which contains gay sexual imagery.
1969 Stonewall Rebellion in New York City.
The orange on our seder plate is a symbol of "the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out - a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too many Jews."
In this the northern hemisphere, Passover coincides with the beginning of spring: a time for renewal, rethinking, rebirth. We throw open the windows of our houses, we sweep away winter's grit and dust. The story of Passover is a story of liberation and new beginnings: what better time to rethink our liberation than now, as snow melts and new green appears?
May this Passover spring give us the...
Traditionally, we have four important mitzvot to accomplish at the seder. The word "mitzvah" can be translated as a good deed, an obligation specific to Jews or as a commandment from God. Tonight, we are commanded to ...
- Drink the four cups of wine.
- Eat at least half of a matzah.
- Tell the story.
- Eat the maror (bitter herbs).
As you can see, we'll cover these as we...