With Beloved Community: An LGBTQIA+ Seder

By jayce koester




Table of Contents

Introduction

Velveteen Rabbi

Seder Plate

Social Justice Blessing

Lighting the Candles

On Reclining

Kadesh

Kadesh

Urchatz

Urchatz - Wash Your Hands To Prepare for the Seder

Miriam's Cup

Karpas

Before Karpas

Karpas

Yachatz

Break the Middle Matzah

-- Four Questions

Alternative Five Questions

-- Four Children

The Four LGBTQIA+ Jews

-- Exodus Story

Intro to the Maggid

Introduction

The Exodus: A Story in Seven Short Chapters

-- Ten Plagues

The 10 Plagues, Today

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Dayeinu

Second Cup

Rachtzah

Rachtzah

Queen’s Attitude as It Bears Upon the Matter: The Three of Cups (excerpt) Marge Piercy

Motzi-Matzah

Imagine the Angels of Bread, by Martin Espada

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Motzi Matzah

Maror

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Maror

Maror alone

Maror and Virtue Ethics

Koreich

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Koreich

Shulchan Oreich

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Shulchan Oreich

Tzafun

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Tzafoon

V'akhalta

Brikh RaHamana

Bareich

Third Cup

May Our Anger be Holy

Hallel

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Hallel

Cups of the Prophets

Counting the Omer

Nirtzah

Tefilat Ha'Derech - Traveler's Prayer for the Road Ahead

Conclusion

Maggid

Commentary / Readings

The Low Road by Marge Piercy

A Fifth Question

Songs

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Who Knows One

The Wandering is Over Haggadah - Chad Gadya

Olam Chesed

Sanctuary

Who Knows One?

Let My People Go



Introduction

Velveteen Rabbi

Contributed by Leora Fridman
Source: Velveteen Rabbi




Introduction

Seder Plate

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Jews United for Justice (Becca Goldstein)

Seder Plate Symbols

Maror – The bitter herb reminds us of the bitterness inside of all of us. Living in a racially discriminatory society means that racism infects our thoughts and actions, even if we don’t want it to. We must call attention to the prejudiced ideas we all carry inside us in order to actively resist and uproot them.

Egg – The egg in its shell reminds us that we can choose how we identify ourselves, but we can’t always choose how the world sees us—we’re vulnerable to other people’s assumptions about who we are inside (and out). Tonight we commit to celebrating everyone as they wish to identify.

Haroset – The haroset mixture reminds us of the interconnectedness and intersectionality of all social forces. Racism exists alongside and within sexism, classism, anti-Semitism, disability oppression, homophobia, and transphobia. We all may be privileged and also experience oppression. Haroset also reminds us of the sweetness of our diversity.

Beet / Shank bone – The beet or shank bone represents the blood that flows through us all. We celebrate our similarities while honoring the rich cultures and traditions of our many differences.

Karpas – The green vegetable reminds us to help each other along as we learn and grow.

Matzah – A traditional seder table features three pieces of matzah, the “bread of affliction.”

Orange – The orange is a symbol of the inclusion of women, LGBTQ individuals, and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. It represents the fruitfulness for all Jews when women and LGBTQ folks are contributing and active members of Jewish life.

Olive – The olive serves as a universal and ancient symbol of hope and peace.





Social Justice Blessing

ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לרדוף צדק

Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu lirdof tzedek

Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha-olam, asher kid’shatnu b’mitzvotayha vitzivatnu lirdof tzedek

Blessed is the Source, who shows us paths to holiness, and commands us to pursue justice. (Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah)

Shehechiyanu

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לזְּמַן הַזֶּה.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam,
shehechehyanu, v'kiy'manu, v'higianu laz'man hazeh.

Blessed is the Source, who shows us paths to holiness, Who has given us the gifts of life and strength and enabled us to reach this moment of joy.




The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles.  In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time.  Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame of freedom alive in the world.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

As we light the festival candles, we acknowledge that as they brighten our Passover table, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.



Introduction

On Reclining

Contributed by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Source: Yehudah Webster & Leo Ferguson, http://jfrej.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/JFREJ_BLM_Haggadah_Extended.pdf

When drinking the four cups and eating the matzah, we lean on our left side to accentuate the fact that we are free people. In ancient times only free people had the luxury of reclining while eating. We ask that this year you consider what it means to recline when so many are not yet free from oppression. This is not a simple question, and so there is no simple answer. In solidarity, you may choose not to recline. Or perhaps we can rest tonight in order to let go of the weight of our fears — our fear of others; of being visible as Jews; of committing to work outside of what is familiar and comfortable — so that we may lean into struggle tomorrow. 



Kadesh

Kadesh

Contributed by Jewish Boston
Source: The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

All Jewish celebrations, from holidays to weddings, include wine as a symbol of our joy – not to mention a practical way to increase that joy. The seder starts with wine and then gives us three more opportunities to refill our cup and drink.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who chose us from all peoples and languages, and sanctified us with commandments, and lovingly gave to us special times for happiness, holidays and this time of celebrating the Holiday of Matzah, the time of liberation, reading our sacred stories, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. For you chose us and sanctified us among all peoples. And you have given us joyful holidays. We praise God, who sanctifies the people of Israel and the holidays.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם
 שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything,
who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment.

Drink the first glass of wine!



Urchatz

Urchatz - Wash Your Hands To Prepare for the Seder

Contributed by Jewish Boston
Source: The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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 older than you thought!)

To wash your hands, you don’t need soap, but you do need a cup to pour water over your hands. Pour water on each of your hands three times, alternating between your hands. If the people around your table don’t want to get up to walk all the way over to the sink, you could pass a pitcher and a bowl around so everyone can wash at their seats… just be careful not to spill!

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 to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together tonight. Go around the table and share one hope or expectation you have for tonight's seder.



Urchatz

Miriam's Cup

Contributed by Smith College Jewish Community
Source: "Love and Justice in Times of War" Haggadah

Miriam’s Cup

Reader 1: The story has always been told of a miraculous well of living water which has accompanied the Jewish people since the world was spoken into being. The well comes and goes, as it is needed, and as we remember, forget, and remember again how to call it to us. In the time of the exodus from Mitzrayim, the well came to Miriam, in honor of her courage and action, and stayed with the Jews as they wandered the desert. Upon Miriam’s death, the well again disappeared.

Reader 2: With this ritual of Miriam’s cup, we honor all Jewish women, transgender, genderqueer, intersex people whose histories have been erased. We commit ourselves to transforming all of our cultures into loving welcoming spaces for people of all genders and sexes.

Reader 3: Tonight we remember Miriam and ask: Who on own journey has been a way-station for us? Who has encouraged our thirst for knowledge? Who sings with joy at our accomplishments?

Reader 4: Let us each go around and name an act of courage or resistance you have seen from another, and pour water into the communal cup until it overflows. 



Karpas

Before Karpas

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

“Remember you are water. Of course you leave salt trails. Of course you are crying. Flow. P.S. If there happens to be a multitude of griefs upon you, individual and collective, or fast and slow, or small and large, add equal parts of these considerations: that the broken heart can cover more territory. that perhaps love can only be as large as grief demands. that grief is the growing up of the heart that bursts boundaries like an old skin or a finished life. that grief is gratitude. that water seeks scale, that even your tears seek the recognition of community. that the heart is a front line and the fight is to feel in a world of distraction. that death might be the only freedom. that your grief is a worthwhile use of your time. that your body will feel only as much as it is able to. that the ones you grieve may be grieving you. that the sacred comes from the limitations. that you are excellent at loving.”

Adrienne Maree Brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds



Karpas

Karpas

Contributed by Jewish Boston
Source: The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our 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, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Most families use a green vegetable, such as parsley or celery, but some families from Eastern Europe have a tradition of using a boiled potato since greens were hard to come by at Passover time. Whatever symbol of spring and sustenance we’re using, we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves. Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery. They haven’t been lost, just buried beneath the snow, getting ready for reappearance just when we most needed them.

-

We all have aspects of ourselves that sometimes get buried under the stresses of our busy lives. What has this winter taught us? What elements of our own lives do we hope to revive this spring?



Yachatz

Break the Middle Matzah

Contributed by Jewish Guy
Source: Velveteen Rabbi

[Open the door as a sign of hospitality; lift up matzah for all to see.]

Are all who are hungry truly able to eat anywhere, let alone with us? How many of us would really invite a hungry stranger into our house today? How can we correct the systemic problems that create hunger, poverty, and oppression? (Rabbah Emily Aviv Kapor).

The Bread of Affliction

This is the bread of affliction

which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.

Let all who are hungry come and eat;

let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover with us.

Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel.

Now we are slaves; next year may we be free.

[Close the door. Break a middle matzah and wrap the larger half in a cloth; it is the afikoman.]

Pirkei Imahot 1:1 (Sayings of the Mothers 1:1)

On this night of doorways, the bread of our ancestors waits on our table.

It is easy to think of this round flat bread as a full moon, except the moon was once part of this planet and was ripped away and the seas keep longing for it and leaping upward.

The whole is already broken. The ball of the earth has its shifting tectonic plates; the skin has its pores where the air bores in. Everything whole in the world has an edge where it broke off something or was cut away. The bread we are about to break is already broken.

We want to think it and we are perfect, but the loaf is an illusion, a compromise with the shattering of light.

Yet maybe it’s in slow breaking that wholeness happens. The bud of the apple tree fragments into beauty and the stem of the iris tears its way through the soil. The heart breaks as it grows.

You could call that wholeness: the movement of life toward a fuller version of itself, the egg releasing its core into the world, the tree lurching its way toward branches.

It’s the splitting of the sea that lets us out of Egypt: severed from the old self we thought invincible, we run toward a future that shatters the moment we enter it, becoming the multiple and unknown present. Bless the world that breaks to let you through it, Bless the gift of the grain that smashes its molecules to feed you over & over.

This Passover night, time is cracking open. Wholeness is not the egg; it’s the tap tap tap of the wet-winged baby bird trying to get out. Break the bread at the feast of liberation. Go ahead. Do it. The whole is already broken, and so are you, and freedom has to have its jagged edges. But keep one half for later, because this story isn’t whole, and isn’t over. (Rabbi Jill Hammer)




One: What would it take for this community to be different from all other communities? What would it mean to commit to leaving no on behind in our exodus from the narrow places to freedom? 

Two: What is one way you can nourish/take care of yourself starting tonight? (On this night we eat matzah.) 

Three: What is one way you can make the sometimes bitter work of fighting for freedom sweeter for yourself and others? (On this night we eat maror.)

 Four: How can we/you create abundance in our work for liberation and justice? (On this night we dip twice.)

Five: When is a time when you’ve felt completely free? If you cannot think of a memory, what do you imagine when you think of complete freedom? (On this night we recline.)



-- Four Children

The Four LGBTQIA+ Jews

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Tamara Cohen, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell, and Ronnie Horn

The Four Queer/Trans Jews Adapted from “the Four Daughters” by Tamara Cohen, Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell and Ronnie Horn. Adapted and used with loving gratitude.

The queer/trans Jew is in search of a meaningful, holy past through our texts, traditions, and people. Ma heh omereh? What do they say?

“Why didn’t the Torah count, or acknowledge women and trans people among the ‘600,000 men on foot, aside from children,’ who came out of Egypt? And why did Moses say at Sinai, ‘Go not near a woman,’ addressing only men, as if preparation for Revelation was not meant for us, as well?”

Because we know that Jewish memory is essential to our identity, we teach them that history is made up by those who tell the tale. If the original Torah did not name and count us as women, trans people and those whose gender we do not know the words for now, it is up to us to fill the empty spaces left in our holy texts. We have the power to tell our own story, take our own census and create our own values. Jewish history is meant for us as well.

And the queer/trans Jew who wants to erase our differences and assimilate? Ma heh omereh? What do they say?

“Why do we keep pushing these questions into every text? Why make us so noticable? So visible? Why are these issues so important to you? Don’t you want to blend in?”

They say: “To you,” instead of “not to me”. They forget the struggles of our ancestors, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Perhaps we’ve been here at some point or another too, what did we need to find the beauty in our divergence? Invite them to our seder tables. Let them see the pleasure and joy at living outside of cis-heteronormativity, the wonder of appreciating queer and trans bodies for all of our diversity and divergence. The blessings of our resistance.

And the queer/trans Jew who does not know that we have a place at the table? Ma heh omereh? What do they say?

“What is this?”

Because they don’t yet know that their question is, in itself, a part of the seder tradition, show them that the Haggadah is a conversation about liberation, and their insights and questions belong here, in our texts and seder plates. Their wonder and curiosity, their frustration and confusion, in equal parts belong right here, nestled between maror and charoset.

And the queer/trans Jew who asks no questions? Who is scared to exist? Isolated from themselves and others?

We must say to them, “Your questions, when they come and in whatever form, will liberate you from Egypt. This is how it is and how it has always been with your queer and Jewish ancestors. For every moment we choose to survive, to look towards unanswered truths, we move a half-step closer to liberation. Even with no questions, you have a seat at our table, you deserve to know the fullness of your ancestors, of Shifra and Puah, of Joseph, of Ruth and Naomi and Judith, of Marsha, Sylvia, Leslie, and so many more who lived both named and unnamed in their truth and power. Come to the seder table with us, you will always have a seat.”

*The hebrew used in this text is in the style of Lior Gross and Eyal Rivlin of the Nonbinary Hebrew Project*




To think of time as both queer and Jewish, existing in cycles that rise, fall, fold over and under themselves, means acknowledging that there always has been and will be a place for us. The work of seder, the work of reliving time in tangible and real ways means connecting with an inherently queer sense of time. We can see past propaganda that tells us there was no room in the traditions we came from, and that the only hope for us in the future is assimilation. Both lies seek to take something from us, and celebrating pesach in community is direct resistance. Both queer and Jewish time is tactile and embodied, in our blood and skin and bones and external senses. Seder allows us to sit in the warm embrace of our ancestors (Jewish or not), to relearn and unlearn, to be our whole selves at the communal table.

As we reach backwards and forwards, we move throughout time in its entirety and wholeness. We reach all the way back to our ancestors’ first breaths, and forward to a world whole, repaired, and healed. Tonight we’re both here in St. Paul in 2019, and all the way back with our ancestors by blood or choice as they crossed out of Mitzrayim into the vast desert.

I invite everyone to reach out, and find an ancestor in your line. It doesn’t have to be someone you know, or someone’s name you have. It doesn’t have to be someone you have hard evidence of. It can be an unnamed gender transgressor from the shtetl, or a long long long passed relative who gave birth to a great great great great grandparent. Find a presence to carry with you, to hold your hands and rest with you. Take in the magnitude of sitting at a table with your ancestors, and with the ancestors of everyone else here. Invite them into your journey through time with you. Invite them into the turning and the turning, into the retelling of the maggid. The weight of generations brought us here to do this powerful work, and we all have a crucial place in it.

Raise the glass of wine and say:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

                                                      This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.            

The glass of wine is put down.



-- Exodus Story

Introduction

Contributed by Melanie Fine
Source: Rheingold Family Haggadah

A Story about Stories

Rheingold Family Haggadah

When the great founder of the modern Hasidim, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, saw misfortune threatening the Jews, it was his custom to go into a certain part of the forest to meditate. There he would light a fire, say a special prayer, and the miracle would be accomplished, and the misfortune or trouble averted.

Later, when his disciple, the celebrated Rabbi Maggid of Mezritch, had occasion, for the same reason, to intercede with heaven, he would go to the same place in the forest and say: "Master of the Universe, listen! I do not know how to light the fire, but I am still able to say the prayer." And again the miracle would be accomplished, disaster was averted and life continued with its ups and downs.

Still later, Rabbi Moshe-Leib of Sasov, in order to save his people once more (this time, from themselves) would go into the forest and say: "I do not know how to light the fire, I do not know the prayer, but I know the place and this must be sufficient." It was sufficient and the miracle of continued life was accomplished.

Then it fell to Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn to overcome misfortune. Sitting in his house, his head in his hands, he spoke to God: "I am unable to light the fire and I do not know the prayer; I cannot even find the the place in the forest. All I can do is to tell the story, and this must be sufficient." And it was sufficient.

So some people say God made men because He loves stories. And we tell the story of Passover every year before this holiday meal because this is the story of how we got to where we are. This is the story, as far back as we can remember, of our beginning.



-- Exodus Story

The Exodus: A Story in Seven Short Chapters

Contributed by The Horowitzes
Source: The Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Passover, assembled by Rachel Barenblat

1.


Once upon a time our people went into galut, exile, in the land of Egypt. During a famine, our ancestor Jacob and his family fled to Egypt where food was plentiful. Through a complicated set of plot twists, his son Joseph had risen to high position in Pharaoh's court, and our people were well-respected and well-regarded, secure in the power structure of the time.

2.


Generations passed and our people remained in Egypt. As rulers came and went, a new Pharaoh ascended to the throne. He felt threatened by the strangers in his people's midst, and ordered our people enslaved.

In fear of rebellion, Pharaoh decreed that all Hebrew boy-children be killed. Two midwives named Shifrah and Puah defied his orders, claiming that "the Hebrew women are so hardy, they give birth before we arrive!" Through their courage, a boy survived.

Fearing for his safety, his family placed him in a basket and he floated down the Nile. He was found and adopted, by Pharaoh's daughter, who named him Moshe because  min ha-mayim m'shitihu, from the water she drew him forth. She hired his mother Yocheved as his wet-nurse. Thus he survived to adulthood and was raised as Prince of Egypt.

3.

Although a child of privilege, as he grew he became aware of the slaves who worked in the brickyards of his father. When he saw an overseer mistreat a slave, he struck the overseer and killed him. Fearing retribution, he set out across the Sinai alone. 

God spoke to him from a burning bush, which though it flamed was not consumed. The Voice called him to lead the Hebrew people to freedom. Moses argued with God, pleading inadequacy, but God disagreed. Sometimes our responsibilities choose us. 

4.

Moses returned to Egypt and went to Pharaoh to argue the injustice of slavery. He gave Pharaoh a mandate with resounds through history: Let my people go.

Pharaoh refused, and Moses warned him that Mighty God would strike the Egyptian people. These threats were not idle: ten terrible plagues were unleashed upon the Egyptians. Only when his nation lay in ruins did Pharaoh agree to our liberation.

5.

Fearful that Pharaoh would change his mind, our people fled, not waiting for their bread dough to rise. (For this reason we eat unleavened bread as we take part in their journey.) Our people did not leave Egypt alone; a "mixed multitude" went with them.  From this we learn that liberation is not for us alone, but for all the nations of the earth.

Even Pharaoh's daughter came with us, and traded her old title ( bat-Pharaoh,  daugther of Pharaoh) for the name Batya, "daughter of God."

Pharaoh's army followed us to the Sea of Reeds. We plunged into the waters. Only when we had gone as far as we could did the waters part for us. We mourn, even now, that Pharaoh's army drowned: our liberation is bittersweet because people died in our pursuit. 

7. 

To this day we relive our liberation, that we may not become complacent, that we may always rejoice in our freedom. 





As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of God. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them. Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

As we read the 10 plagues, we spill drops of wine from our cups, mourning the suffering the Egyptians endured so that we could be free. This year, as these drops spread across our plates, let us turn our hearts toward the millions of people around the world suffering today’s plagues of hatred, prejudice, baseless violence and war.



-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Dayeinu

Contributed by Jewish Boston
Source: The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

The plagues and our subsequent redemption from Egypt are but one example of the care God has shown for us in our history. Had God but done any one of these kindnesses, it would have been enough – dayeinu.

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu hotzi- hotzianu, Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim, Dayeinu

If God had only taken us out of Egypt, that would have been enough!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et ha-Torah, Natan lanu et ha-Torah , Dayeinu

If God had only given us the Torah, that would have been enough.

 The complete lyrics to Dayeinu tell the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt as a series of miracles God performed for us. (See the Additional Readings if you want to read or sing them all.)

Dayeinu also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large. 



-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Second Cup

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Jayce Koester

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.

In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.

With each generation LGBTQIA+ Jews continue to struggle for the world to recognize our stories and the reality of our lives. With each generation queer people continue to struggle against the tides of transmisogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny that seek to keep us on the furthest margins. We see our fellow dear family, both those already passed into the next life and those not yet born into this world, as they travel from the narrow straights towards freedom.

We call to G’d, who redeemed our ancestors from Egypt, and sing in joy that we were all able to reach this seder table together tonight. May we continue to reach future holidays in liberation and ease.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the second glass of wine!



Rachtzah

Rachtzah

Contributed by Jewish Boston
Source: The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple.

Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand and then three times on your left hand.

After you have poured the water over your hands, recite this short blessing.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ  עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.




Queen’s Attitude as It Bears Upon the Matter: The Three of Cups (excerpt)
Marge Piercy

Taste what is in your mouth,
if it is water, still taste it.
Wash out the cups of your fingers,
clean your eyes with new tears for your sister.
We are not worse revolutionaries if we remember
that the universe itself pulses like a heart;
that the blood dances within us; that joy is a power
treading with hoofs and talons on our flimsy bodies;
that water flows and fire leaps and the land gives strength
if you build on it with respect, if you dance on it with vigor,
if you put seeds in with care and give back what is left over;
that a ritual of unity makes some of what it pretends;
that every thing is a part of something else.




This is the year that squatters evict landlords,
gazing like admirals from the rail
of the roofdeck
or levitating hands in praise
of steam in the shower;
this is the year
that shawled refugees deport judges
who stare at the floor
and their swollen feet
as files are stamped
with their destination;
this is the year that police revolvers,
stove-hot, blister the fingers
of raging cops,
and nightsticks splinter
in their palms;
this is the year that darkskinned men
lynched a century ago
return to sip coffee quietly
with the apologizing descendants
of their executioners.

This is the year that those
who swim the border's undertow
and shiver in boxcars
are greeted with trumpets and drums
at the first railroad crossing
on the other side;
this is the year that the hands
pulling tomatoes from the vine
uproot the deed to the earth that sprouts
the vine,
the hands canning tomatoes
are named in the will
that owns the bedlam of the cannery;
this is the year that the eyes stinging from the poison that purifies toilets
awaken at last to the sight
of a rooster-loud hillside,
pilgrimage of immigrant birth; this is the year that cockroaches
become extinct, that no doctor
finds a roach embedded
in the ear of an infant;
this is the year that the food stamps
of adolescent mothers
are auctioned like gold doubloons,
and no coin is given to buy machetes
for the next bouquet of severed heads
in coffee plantation country.

If the abolition of slave-manacles
began as a vision of hands without manacles,then this is the year;
if the shutdown of extermination camps
began as imagination of a land
without barbed wire or the crematorum,
then this is the year;
if every rebellion begins with the idea
that conquerors on horsebackare not many-legged gods, that they too drown
if plunged in the river,
then this is the year.

So may every humiliated mouth,
teeth like desecrated headstones,
fill with the angels of bread.

 Martín Espada




The blessing over the meal and matzah | motzi matzah | מוֹצִיא מַצָּה

The familiar hamotzi blessing marks the formal start of the meal. Because we are using matzah instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this mitzvah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who brings bread from the land.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat matzah.

Distribute and eat the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.




Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror  |מָרוֹר   

  In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet… but doesn’t the sweet mean more when it’s layered over the bitterness?

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat bitter herbs.



Maror

Maror alone

Contributed by Baumann Aizenstein Family
Source: Lisa Baptiste & Laura Horowitz

Why do we eat maror?

Tradition says that this bitter herb is to remind us of the bitterness of our slavery.

We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure.

How big a piece of maror do I have to eat to fulfill my obligation?

And what if I"ve known enough pain this year already?

And what if I eat the whole root and my tongue catches on fire and my ears burn? Then will I know slavery?

All take a taste of maror on a piece of matzah, then we'll say together:

ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.

Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments, and commanded us to eat bitter herbs.




Maror is supposed to represent the bitterness of slavery, and it does.  But this representation is less straightforward and more complicated than a simple “slavery = bad.” 

The chronology of the seder is the first clue.  We would think it should be maror, pesach, matzah:  slavery, sacrifice, freedom.  But it’s not.  In the traditional Haggadah, maror appears first, before pesach and matzah.

This chronological aberration is a clue to the deeper meaning of maror.  It represents the bitterness not of the generations of slavery, but of the Exodus itself, and the terrible things that happened during it:  the killing of the first born and the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.  These events were necessary but terrible.  In virtue ethics we would call them “dirty hands” actions. 

The Mishna conveys the message this way:  As the Egyptians are drowning in the Red Sea, the angels burst into song.  God rebukes them, saying, “My creatures are perishing, and you sing hymns?” 

But it’s important to note that this sentiment is entirely absent from the Torah itself.  It was added only much later, when the Mishna was written.  And only after that did we begin spilling drops of wine from our glasses to symbolize the ten plagues.

This is why aror comes after pesach and matzah – after the celebration of freedom.  It was only from the safety of freedom that we could recognize the tragedy of the tenth plague and the destruction of the army in the sea.  Having just emerged from slavery, our ancestors had no room in their hearts for regret over the Egyptians’ suffering.  But maror still symbolizes the bitterness of slavery, because it was generations of slavery that made us unable to respond the way we should have.  Suffering and oppression can inflict moral damage and limit our repertoire of emotional responses.  Moral damage is one the many bitter harms of slavery. 

So this is not only an explanation of why maror is last, but why we eat it at all.  It’s there to make us taste the bitterness not of what they did to us, but of what we did to them.  

The seder is often compared to a Greek symposium, but in this way it also serves the function of a Greek tragedy.  Tragedy, according to Aristotle, is the practice ground of extraordinary virtue.  By immersing ourselves in stories of tragic heroes facing unusual circumstances, we train our own responses to better enable us to face similar challenges.  The same thing is going on at the seder table.  This is why we place ourselves personally in the Exodus, and why we say “because of what God did for me. ”  Through smell and taste and narrative and emotion, we are experiencing the Exodus as if we had been there.  The symbolism of the seder rituals help guide us through the narrative, all the while guiding us toward the virtuous emotional response. 

We taste the sweetness of freedom, but not without the bitterness of what we had to do to get there.  And we remind ourselves that even when we rejoice in our own liberation, we must also be mindful of its costs.




Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich | כּוֹרֵךְ

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the biggest ritual of them all was eating the lamb offered as the pesach or Passover sacrifice. The great sage Hillel would put the meat in a sandwich made of matzah, along with some of the bitter herbs. While we do not make sacrifices any more – and, in fact, some Jews have a custom of purposely avoiding lamb during the seder so that it is not mistaken as a sacrifice – we honor this custom by eating a sandwich of the remaining matzah and bitter herbs. Some people will also include charoset in the sandwich to remind us that God’s kindness helped relieve the bitterness of slavery.




Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich | שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

Enjoy! But don’t forget when you’re done we’ve got a little more seder to go, including the final two cups of wine!




Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon | צָפוּן

The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. As we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives.



Tzafun

V'akhalta

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Hanna Tiferet Siegel

וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ 

V’achalta, V'savata, Oo-vay-rach-ta 

We ate when we were hungry 
And now we’re satisfied 
We thank the Source of Blessing 
for all that She provides 

Hunger is a yearning 
In body and soul 
Earth Air Fire Water 
And Spirit makes us whole. 

Giving and receiving 
We open up our hands 
From Seedtime through Harvest 
We’re partners with the land 

We all share a vision 
Of wholeness and release 
Where every child is nourished 
And we all live in peace

Hebrew: Deuteronomy 8:6 
English: Hanna Tiferet Siegel, hannatiferet.com



Tzafun

Brikh RaHamana

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Adaptation from Batya Levine

בריך רחמנא 
מלכא דעלמא 
מריה דהאי פיתא 

Brikh raḥamana 
Malka d'alma 
Ma'arey d'hi (oh!) pita 
 

Thank you (x3)

For this beautiful food 

May it nourish us 

To build a world that's whole



Bareich

Third Cup

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Adapted from the Velveteen Rabbi

Refill everyone’s wine glass.

The third cup of juice represents G’d’s declaration of redemption: וגאלתי / v’go’alti “I will liberate you with an outstretched arm…” 

As we bless the third cup of juice, let yourself fill with gratitude for the meal we’ve just eaten together. Let us notice the nutrients from the food settling into our body, being processed through our stomachs. May we use this energy to care for one another, to continue our work of building a more whole and repaired world.

The Third Glass of Wine

The blessing over the meal is immediately followed by another blessing over the wine:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the third glass of wine!

Traditionally the third cup of wine is followed by a prayer called Sh’foch Chametecha, “Pour Out Your Wrath.” Please join us in reading an adaptation, blessing our communal anger and outrage.



Bareich

May Our Anger be Holy

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Velveteen Rabbi

May Our Anger Be Holy

Oppression breeds anger to which we must attend.

Once, we recited this text out of powerlessness. We asked God to pour forth wrath because we were unable to express our own. But in today's world, where we enjoy agency to an unprecedented degree, we must resist the temptations of perennial victimhood and yearning for revenge.

And yet we know that rage, unexpressed, will fester. Let us therefore acknowledge our communal pain. Let us recognize the intersecting systems of oppression which ensnare our world, from antisemitism to xenophobia, and feel appropriate anger in response. And let us recommit ourselves to honing our anger so that it might fuel us to create change, so that our wrath may lead us to redemption.

In the words of the poet Audre Lorde: Focused with precision, [anger] can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives. And let us say: Amen.




Singing songs that praise God | hallel | הַלֵּל

This is the time set aside for singing. Some of us might sing traditional prayers from the Book of Psalms. Others take this moment for favorites like Chad Gadya & Who Knows One, which you can find in the appendix. To celebrate the theme of freedom, we might sing songs from the civil rights movement. Or perhaps your crazy Uncle Frank has some parody lyrics about Passover to the tunes from a musical. We’re at least three glasses of wine into the night, so just roll with it.

Fourth Glass of Wine

As we come to the end of the seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the fourth and final glass of wine! 




Cups of the Prophets


Elijah’s Cup
In the ninth century B.C.E., a farmer arose to challenge the domination of the
ruling elite. In his tireless and passionate advocacy on behalf of the common
people, and his ceaseless exposure of the corruption and waste of the court,
Elijah sparked a movement and created a legend which would inspire people
for generations to come.
Before he died, Elijah declared that he would return once each generation
in the guise of any poor or oppressed person, coming to people’s doors to
see how he would be treated. By the treatment offered this poor person,
who would be Elijah himself, he would know whether the population had
reached a level of humanity making them capable of participating in the
dawn of the Messianic age.


Miriam’s Cup
Reader: The story has always been told of a miraculous well of living water
which has accompanied the Jewish people since the world was spoken into
being. The well comes and goes, as it is needed, and as we remember, forget,
and remember again how to call it to us. In the time of the exodus from
Mitzrayim, the well came to Miriam, in honor of her courage and action, and
stayed with the Jews as they wandered the desert. Upon Miriam’s death, the
well again disappeared.


All: With this ritual of Miriam’s cup, we honor all Jewish women, transgender,
intersex people whose histories have been erased. We commit ourselves to
transforming all of our cultures into loving welcoming spaces for people of all
genders and sexes. Smash the binary gender system! A million genders for a
million people!


Reader: Tonight we remember Miriam and ask:
Who on own journey has been a way-station for us?
Who has encouraged our thirst for knowledge?
To whom do we look as role-models for our daughters and for ourselves?
Who sings with joy at our accomplishments?
Each person names an act of courage or resistance that they have done in the
past year, and pours water into the communal cup until it overflows.
 


You may open the door and turn towards it or step outside and sing. Use
the same melody for ‘Eliyahu Hanavi’ and’ Miriam Hanavia’, below.


ELIYAHU HANAVI
All sing:
Eliyahu ha-navi
Eliyahu ha-tishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu
Eliyahu ha-giladi
Bimheyra b'yameynu
Yahvoh eleynu
Im mashiakh ben David
Im mashiakh bat Sarah
MIRIAM HANEVIYA
Miriam ha-Neviya, oz v’zimra
v’yada.
Miriam tirkod itanu l’hagdil
zimrat olam.
Miriam tirkod itanu l’taken et
ha’olam.
Bimheyra b'yameynu
Hi t’vi’einu elmei ha-yishua
77 78



Hallel

Counting the Omer

Contributed by jayce koester
Source: Velveteen Rabbi, Adapted by Jayce Koester

עמר Omer means “measures”. When the Temple stood, it was customary to bring harvest offerings three times a year, at Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot. The tradition of counting the Omer dates back to those days, like many of our holidays. It’s measured by the agricultural calendar, helping us live fruitfully in relationship to the land. We measured the seven weeks of the Omer between planning new barley and harvesting it; then offered a measure, in thanks, to our source.

Now that few of us are barely farmers, and the Temple no longer stands, practices like counting the Omer take on new meaning. Pesach leads us from the narrow straights into a widening, and Shavuot (the holiday that signals the end of our count) marks our acceptance of revelation at Mount Sinai. The days in between form a liminal space that allows for us to return to our selves, to reflect, to navigate our own deserts. Throughout traditional counting of the Omer we mourn and celebrate at different times. We work on hearts and souls. We do the work that queer people have been doing for generations, marking time with hard work, love, and community.

Join me as we count the Omer together, tonight is the second night of the Omer. 

 .ברוך אתח יי אלהינו רוח העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו אל ספירת העמר  

Blessed are you, Adonai, Breath of Life, who sanctifies us with the commandment to count the Omer.

!היום יומ שתיים לעמר 

Today is the second day of the Omer!




by Miriam Grossman

May it be your will Our God and God of our ancestors that you lead us in peace and direct our steps (our marching, Rebellious, organized, queer dance-partying, prayerful steps) in peace and guide us in peace and support us in just peace (and in the tearing down of walls, and in the rising up of peoples), and cause us to reach our destination in life and joy and peace (all of us together, no one left behind). Save us from every enemy and ambush, from robbers and wild beasts (And from tear gas and flash-bags, and sound cannons and night sticks and rubber bullets, from furious hands that reach towards unarmed bodes). May You confer blessing upon the work of our hands (and our movements and our histories: uplifted, remembered, redeemed). Grant us grace, kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who witness us, (Let human bodies be seen as human bodies.) and bestow upon us abundant kindness (remind us there is no scarcity of vision, power, strength) and hearken to the voice of our prayer, for You hear the prayers of all. Blessed are You G-d, who hearkens to prayer (and peace seeking and rabble rousing. Blessed are we who journey in action and prayer.) -- Download the Jews For Racial and Economic Justice 2017 Supplement Here:  http://jfrej.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/haggadah2017_WEB4.pdf



Conclusion

Maggid

Contributed by Tano Lazio
Source: MArge Piercy

Maggid

Marge Piercy

The courage to let go of the door, the handle.

The courage to shed the familiar walls whose very

Stains and leaks are comfortable as the little moles

Of the upper arm; stains that recall a feast,

A child’s naughtiness, a loud battering storm

That slapped the roof hard, pouring through.

The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,

The small bones of children and the brittle bones

Of the old whose marrow hunger had stolen;

The courage to desert the tree planted and only

begun to bear; the riverside  where promises were

shaped; the street where the empty pots were broken.

 

The courage to leave the place whose language you learned

as early as your own, whose customs however dangerous

or demeaning, bind you like a halter

you have learned to pull inside, to move your load;

the land fertile with the blood spilled upon it; the roads

mapped and annotated for survival.

 

The courage to walk out of the pain that is known

into the pain that cannot be imagined,

mapless, walking into the wilderness, going

barefoot with a canteen into the desert;

stuffed in the stinking hold of a rotting ship

sailing off the map  into dragon’s mouths,

 

Cathay, India, Siberia, goldeneh medina,

leaving bodies by the way like abandoned treasure.

So they walked out of Egypt. So they bribed their way

Out of Russia under loads of straw; so they steamed

out of the bloody smoking charnelhouse of Europe

on overlooked freighters forbidden all ports-

 

out of pain, into death or freedom or a different

painful dignity, into squalor or politics.

We Jews are all born of wanderers, with shoes

under our pillows and a memory of blood that is ours

raining down. We only honor those Jews who changed

tonight, who chose the desert over bondage,

who walked into the strange and became strangers

and gave birth to children who could look down

on them standing on their shoulders for having

been  slaves.  We honor those who let go of everything

but freedom, who ran, who revolted, who fought,

who became other by saving themselves.

 

 

 

 

 





What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund-raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.



Commentary / Readings

A Fifth Question

Contributed by Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Source: Leo Ferguson, http://jfrej.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/JFREJ_BLM_Haggadah_Extended.pdf

“Why on this night when we remember the oppression and resistance of Jews should we also think about the lives of people of color?” Because many Jews are people of color. Because racism is a Jewish issue. Because our liberation is connected.

White Ashkenazi Jews have a rich history but are only a part of the Jewish story. Mizrahi & Sephardi Jews; Yemeni Jews; Ethiopian Jews; Jews who trace their heritage to the Dominican Republic, to Cuba & Mexico; to Guyana & Trinidad; descendants of enslaved Africans whose ancestors converted or whose parents intermarried.

Jews of color are diverse, multihued and proud of it — proud of our Jewishness and proud of our Blackness. But though our lives are joyous and full, racism forces us down a narrow, treacherous path. On the one hand we experience the same oppression that afflicts all people of color in America — racism targets us, our family members, and our friends. On the other hand, the very community that we would turn to for belonging and solidarity — our Jewish community — often doesn’t acknowledge our experience.

Jews of color cannot choose to ignore the experiences of people of color everywhere, anymore than we would ignore our Jewishness. We must fully inhabit both communities and we need all Jews to stand with us, forcefully and actively opposing racism and police violence.

But in order to do so, we must pare our past trauma from our present truth: our history of oppression leaves many of us hyper-vigilant and overly preoccupied with safety. As Jews we share a history that is overburdened with tales of violent oppression. Though different Jewish communities have varying experiences, none of us have escaped painful legacies of persecution, including genocide. This past is real, and part of why we gather today is to remember it. But the past is past. However seductive harsh policing, surveillance and incarceration may be in the short term, it will never serve us in the end. Not when those tactics brutalize other communities, humiliating and incarcerating our neighbors and perpetuate a status quo that leaves low-income communities of color on the other side of a sea of fear — still trapped; still stranded. The only real way out of the Mitzrayim of our fears is solidarity. Only by forging deep connections and sharing struggle with other communities will we creating the lasting allies who will walk with us into the promised land of our collective liberation. That is true Jewish freedom — true and lasting safety.

They cried to Moses, “What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt ... it is better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (14:11-12).

When Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, it was a moment of great risk and great change. As the passage above shows us, though life under Pharaoh was cruel and crushing, it was also familiar — a known fear. After a century of servitude, freedom. What changed? It was the Jewish people daring to imagine for themselves something greater. Daring to take great risks and face great fears to find liberation. This willingness to stand up for justice is a strength we have found again and again. When the oppression of economic exploitation demanded it, our grandparents found it in the labor movement; when the civil rights movement demanded it, our parents travelled to the South to register voters. Now this moment demands again that we take risks for justice.

What our neighbors in communities of color are asking — what the Jews of color in our own communities need from their fellow Jews — is that we push past the comfortable and move to action. In the streets, in our synagogues and homes, with our voices, our bodies, our money and resources, with our imaginations. In doing so we must center the voices and the leadership of Jews of color and other communities of color, while forming deep partnerships and long-term commitments to fight for lasting change.

Passover is a time of remembrance but also one of renewal — of looking ahead toward the spring and new growth that will sustain us through the seasons to come. Once we spent spring in the desert. It was harsh and difficult but from that journey grew a people who have endured for centuries. What would happen if we took that journey again, not alone in the wilderness but surrounded by friends and allies, leaving no one behind? 




Who knows one?

At some seders, people go around the table reading a question and the answers in one breath. Thirteen is hard!

Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows four?

I know four.

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows five?

I know five.

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows six?

I know six.

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows seven?

I know seven.

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eight?

I know eight.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows nine?

I know nine.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows ten?

I know ten.

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eleven?

I know eleven.

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows twelve?

I know twelve.

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows thirteen?

I know thirteen

Thirteen are the attributes of God

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth




Chad Gadya

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

דְזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

Chad gadya, chad gadya

Dizabin abah bitrei zuzei

Chad gadya, chad gadya.

One little goat, one little goat:

Which my father brought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The cat came and ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The dog came and bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The stick came and beat the dog

That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The fire came and burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The water came and extinguished the

Fire that burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The ox came and drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The butcher came and killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The angle of death came and slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The Holy One, Blessed Be He came and

Smote the angle of death who slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.



Songs

Olam Chesed

Contributed by Melissa Cetlin
Source: Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Olam chesed yibaneh עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָנֶה 

I will build this world from love... yai dai dai 
And you must build this world from love... yai dai dai 
And if we build this world from love... yai dai dai 
Then G-d will build this world from love... yai dai dai




V’asu li mikdash
V’shachanti b’tocham
V’anachnu n’varech Yah
Mei-ata v’ad olam

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

(three times)



Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows four?

I know four.

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows five?

I know five.

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows six?

I know six.

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows seven?

I know seven.

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eight?

I know eight.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows nine?

I know nine.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows ten?

I know ten.

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eleven?

I know eleven.

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows twelve?

I know twelve.

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows thirteen?

I know thirteen

Thirteen are the attributes of God

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth




  1. When Israel was in Egypt’s land,
    Let My people go!
    Oppressed so hard they could not stand,
    Let My people go!
    • Refrain:
      Go down, Moses,
      Way down in Egypt’s land;
      Tell old Pharaoh
      To let My people go!
  2. No more shall they in bondage toil,
    Let My people go!
    Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
    Let My people go!
  3. You need not always weep and mourn,
    Let My people go!
    And wear these slav’ry chains forlorn,
    Let My people go!
  4. Your foes shall not before you stand,
    Let My people go!
    And you’ll possess fair Canaan’s land,
    Let My people go!