The Final Countdown to the Seders

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In a day and a half we'll be gathered around the seder table with our families and friends, ready to begin telling the ancient story of freedom from the bonds of slavery, of our transition from slaves in Egypt to free people in a promised land. Do you have your Haggadah at the ready? If you're still looking for some last minute additions, here are some of our favorite suggestions, mostly from the Neverending Haggadah, a partnership this year between Haggadot.com and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network.

Cover -- we love this cartoon, submitted by Eitan Stieber. Don't miss the exodus because you were waiting for your bread to rise!

Introduction--A quick guide to your seder plate, brought to you by Moishe House and MyJewishLearning.com

Kadesh--This inspiring reflection on the four cups of wine comes from the Shalom Hartman Institute, and is sure to get your seder conversation flowing. 

Urchatz--Why do we wash our hands without a blessing, and then break bread without eating it? This ritualwell source, submitted by Lisa Friedman, helps us answer this puzzling question.

Karpas--JQ International GLBT Haggadah gives us this new take on karpas, suggesting we eat a fruit salad, instead of a sprig of parsley,  to recognize the different kinds of people in our lives, and their collective potential.

Yachatz--If you're looking to think deeply about matzah, and what it truly means, this reading from A Way In Jewish Mindfulness Program, uses the physicality of the matzah to open our minds to the pain of oppression.

 Maggid

Introduction--Reform CA and Rabbis Organizing Rabbis bring us this Immigration Seder Ritual that reminds us of the all the immigrants who make the food that is on our table available to us.

Four Questions-- Questions can lead to connection and learning, but they can also lead to disconnection and disintegration. Questions can be used to build up, but they can also be used to destroy, explains Rabbi Josh Feigelson

The Four Sons―Uri L'Tzedek provides a new take on the Four Children, who in this imagining, ask questions about the food on the table, and its origins.

Exodus Story-- BibleRaps provides an awesome and fun song called Moses Vs Pharoah (You Know My Name)

Ten Plagues―How can we rejoice in the suffering of the Egyptians? Calev Ben Dor reflects on this struggle in the Haggadah. 

Dayenu―This contribution from Danielle Selber reminds us to pause and notice that where we are is exactly where we ought to be, and that Dayenu is a reminder to never forget all the miracles in our lives.

Rachtzah-- Rabbi Ari Weiss from Uri L'Tzedek asks us to think about washing our hands as a metaphor for cleansing the world from evil. 

Motzi Matzah―OurJewishCommunity.org explains the ways that matzah has been understood through history. 

Maror-- Wesley Harris recounts a story of eating horseradish and using the breath of God to get past the spicy bitterness to freedom.  

Koreich―Ever wondered why, exactly, we make a sandwich with matzah and horseradish? This excerpt from Telling the Story: A Passover Haggadah Explained, gives the fascinating history of this ritual. 

Shulhan Orech―Where do gefilte fish come from? Gerald Weiss brings us this Mythical Midrash Concerning Gefilte Fish that also happens to be hilarious. 

Tzafun―When we eat the afikomen and unite the broken of pieces of matzah the Kalsman Institute reminds us that at the seder we have the opportunity to discover lost parts of ourselves, to become reconciled with relatives who have become distant and to find wholeness in aspects of Judaism which may not have been part of our lives.

Bareich-- As we say the Grace after Meals, JewishBoston.com reminds us to center ourselves for the rest of the seder journey.  

Hallel-- Gerald Weiss brings us this explanation for the cup of Miriama modern addition to the seder that honors Miriam's contributions to the Exodus. 

NirtzahAs we reach the end of the seder, this poem from Adrienne Rich helps us to imagine what Freedom feels like.  

 

Best Clips for Bringing Social Justice to Your Seder

Posted by Haggadot

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The text of the haggadah naturally leads to a greater discussion about social justice, modern slavery, and oppression. The Passover seder is the perfect time for a serious discussion about the injustices we see in the world today, and a good time for us to share with our families stories of the causes and problems we car about and worry about. Here at Haggadot.com we have well over 100 clips designed to help kickstart the social justice discussion at your seder. Here are ten of our favorites:

A Tale of Two Stories by Donniel Hartmann

In this clip, Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartmann reminds us that the haggadah tells the story of Jews as both victims and victors, and reminds us that if we're going to be victors, we can't forget the victims all over the world. 

Why is this Year Different From All Other Years: A Reading for the Four Questions from the American Jewish World Service 

On most other nights, we allow the news of tragedy in distant places to pass us by. We succumb to compassion fatigue – aware that we cannot possibly respond to every injustice that arises around the world. On this night, we are reminded that our legacy as the descendants of slaves creates in us a different kind of responsibility – we are to protect the stranger because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The Fifth Question from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

This very short and simple text asks us to consider one more question after the traditional four questions. "Why on this night are millions of people still going hungry?" 

Ask Big Questions: Are We Free

This conversation guide helps you lead a discussion about whether you and your guests are really free--free from what? How did you become free? How can you help others find freedom?

Jewish Solidarity with Native American People Supplement

This text links Native American activists with the characters in the story of the Exodus, and draws parallels between the Israelites' walk to freedom through the desert, and the Navajo Long Walk. 

10 Modern Plagues by Jewish Women's Archive

Passover is a good time to remember that, even after our liberation from slavery in Egypt, there are still many challenges for us to meet. Here are ten “modern plagues” from inequity to feeling overwhelmed and disempowered.

A Quote from Malcolm X

Use this quote from Malcolm X about oppressors and those being oppressed to begin a discussion on the problem with some people being free, while others are not. 

Liberation in God's Image from Rabbis for Human Rights

This reading is designed to remind seder participants about the value and strength of progressive Islam.

Fair Trade Chocolate on the Seder Plate from the Global Exchange and Fair Trade Judaice

Put a piece of fair trade chocolate on your seder plate and use it as a jumping off point for a discussion about fair trade labor practices around the world. 

Maror from Uri L'Tzedek

At the moment in the seder when we think about the suffering in Egypt, this text reminds us to think about the migrant workers of today, who still toil in the fields for barely any pay.

The Neverending Haggadah

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This year we're thrilled to announce that Haggadot.com is partnering with the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network to create an online (and downloaded) crowd-sourced Haggadah. We're calling it the Neverending Haggadah because we hope that it will fill your seders with conversations and discussions that will continue late into the night. Contributors to the Nevernending Haggadah include Uri L'Tzedek, Bibliyoga, Esther Kustanowitz, Birthright NEXT, Ritualwell.org, and many many others. And you can contribute, too! This is your chance to share content that will add color and depth to another Seder and also to find content that will make your Seder more meaningful. It’s a Haggadah of reciprocity! Head to the Neverending Haggadah to see the Haggadah so far, and contribute your own content. 

Optimizing Your Seder for the Visually Impaired

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Here at Haggadot.com we're dedicated to making sure that everyone can have a seder that is meaningful and unique. Unfortunately, with the aging of the population, more and more seniors are suffering from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and other age-related vision diseases.  So many of us have aging relatives who desperately want to take an active role at their family’s seder—but their failing vision makes that impossible. So we're thrilled to let our users know that the Jewish Braille Institute is providing FREE Large Print (and, of course, Braille and Audio) Haggadahs to anyone who is visually impaired or physically handicapped. 

JBI wants visually impaired seniors, as well as their children and grandchildren, to know about the availability of The JBI Library and its life enriching free services.  All it takes is a phone call to 1-800-999-6476 (before March 18th) or a visit to http://jbilibrary.org/large-print-haggadah/ to get a free JBI Large Print Haggadah in time for the Seder.

Enjoy your seder!

 

Best Clips for a Kid-Friendly Seder

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The Passover seder is designed to appeal to children, with its enthusiasm for questions, and lots of hands-on activities (dipping, making sandwiches, spilling out drops of wine, finding the afikomen, etc), but if there will be kids at your seder, you probably want to tweak your haggadah so it includes lots of kid-friendly songs, games, activities, and texts. Here are some of our favorite clips geared towards kids:

A kid-friendly reading to kick off the seder (Stephen Pomerantz)

A Muppet Show parody song to start the seder (Leah Jones)

A dog washing its paws for Urchatz (Sue-Ann Silkes)

Passover trivia (Adam Hopkins)

A write your own four questions activity (Rabbi Benjamin Adler)

A drawing activity that asks kids to draw what they'd bring with them from Egypt (Made It Myself Books)

When the Storm Came to Plink, a Passover story for 3-6 year olds (American Jewish World Service)

A group activity to mimic the crossing of the Red Sea (Sarah Beren)

The Frog Song, a great song to sing before or after listing the Ten Plagues (Jenny)

A seder crossword puzzle (Alanna)

An easy DIY Passover board game (Andrea Smith)

An Afikomen scavenger hunt, using verses from the Bible to guide kids from clue to clue (USCJ)

A Rhyming Haggadah! (Rabbi Scott Gurdin) 

Plus many, many more options! 

 

Spotlight on the Four Children

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One of the most discussed and interesting parts of the traditional haggadah text is the section on the four sons: the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son, and the son who does now know how to ask. Over time, hundreds of thinkers and artists have expounded on the meaning of this fascinating text, and we have nearly 60 different interpretations of this classic part of the Haggadah. Here are some of our favorites:

Artwork

We love these oil paintings from contributor Shoshannah Brombacher. They're reminiscent of Chagall, and have lots to look at and discuss. There's also these long narrow artistic renderings of the four sons, from jewishworldwatch.org. G-dcast brings us a wonderful and fun video, and there's also an excellent drawing activity with Made it Myself Books.

Marginalized Communities

From feminists, to the LGBT community and beyond, we have some great non-traditional readings. The Jewish Woman's Archive brings us a lovely rendering of the Four Daughters, and a contributor named Heather wrote the Four Girls, which explores issues around body image and health. JQ International has a GLBTQ reading of the text, that addresses issues of shame and inclusivity. Finally, we love this reading from the Love and Justice Haggadah, that turns the four children upside down, and uses texts written by children to remind us adults that we have a lot to learn from youth.

Israel

The Congress Of Secular Jewish Organization brings us a fascinating version of the four sons addresses Israel, safety, and compromise. Four More Sons from the Foundation for Family Education looks at Israeli POWs and their fate.

Social Justice/Slavery

he Religious Action Center has some great questions to get a social justice conversation going around the four sons, and Rabbi Gilah Langner from Rabbis for Human Rights brings us four sons' take on slavery. Uri L'Tzedek brings four sons who ask questions about food justice, and American Jewish World Service has four children asking about how and why to pursue justice.

We also have a ballad, a tongue in cheek graduate student version, and many many more. Head over to the clip library and check them out!

Win an iTunes gift card!

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Win an iTunes gift card!

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Time to finish counting and celebrate Shavuot!

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One of the most significant holidays of the Jewish calendar is this weekend….and it’s not Memorial Day. There aren’t any special gifts to buy or obvious symbols on display at Target. In fact, there really isn’t anything out of the usual in observance commandments for this holiday, which is probably why it is often missed. It’s Shavuot!

The counting of the Omer that began at Passover ends now at the holiday of Shavuot and we celebrate the giving of  the Torah at Mount Sinai.  A pretty big deal…after all, where would Judaism be without the Torah? As a result, the holiday is focused on the Torah and studying is encouraged.  If you are looking for some book ideas to get started, click here.

It is a pretty widely held tradition to eat dairy foods in celebration of Shavuot. Here are some dairy recipes you might want to check out.

 

Thank You!

Posted by Haggadot

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Thanks again to all of our wonderful contributors! We had an outpouring of participation this year and we now have a wide range of wonderful work on the site.  In case you missed these, here are some highlights, but only a very small piece of the growing library:

Mi Chamocha by Isaac Brynjegard-Bialik

Exodus/Eclipse by Anna Fine Foer

let my people go by Ken Goldman

Chocolate Seder How-To by OurJewishCommunity.org

Exodus Story Drawing Activity - Made It Myself Books

Pass The Cup by House of Lions

Contributions are made to the site all year long, so be sure to check back for new material and/or clips you might have missed. You can build your Haggadah any time during the year, so avoid the pre-Passover stressful panic and start working on it now! We hope that your Haggadah will continue to evolve and become a unique part of your Passover tradition.

 

Happy 64!

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Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, falls on Thursday of this week (April 26th). Many of us will celebrate this holiday, even though we are not Israeli. This brings up an interesting question: What does Israel mean to Jews living in the Diaspora (regions outside of Israel)?

This question sparks a wide range of responses – some very passionate. One thing that is easy to agree on, however, is that Israel is a remarkable nation. In 1948, Israel was a Zionist state of 600,000 Jews looking for a political refuge. Today, Israel’s Jewish population is close to 5,500,000 and has had an impressive number of accomplishments – from the endless list of technology innovations to its vast number of democratic humanitarian efforts. We may not agree with every aspect of its government or policies, but there is a feeling of pride and joy that Israel exists. So this weekend hundreds of thousands of Jews will join together in wishing a Happy Birthday to Israel!

Hatikva - The Hope [Israel’s National Anthem]

Kol ode balevav P'nimah
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah

Ulfa'atey mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tzion tzofiyah.

Ode lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim,

L'hiyot am chofshi b'artzenu

Eretz Tzion Yerushalayim

In the Jewish heart
A Jewish spirit still sings,

And the eyes look east
Toward Zion

Our hope is not lost,
Our hope of two thousand years,

To be a free nation in our land,
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem