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Maror (bitter herbs, such as horseradish)--the symbol of bitterness and slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. Today, in a Jewish community that is free, this bitterness takes on another layer of meaning. We acknowledge that there are many among us who are embittered by their feelings of resentment, discomfort, and fear. We know that there is just cause for some of these feelings of fear, for Jews were "other" for so many...
by Joshua Ratner, Rabbis Without Borders
One of my favorite parts of the Passover seder is the singing that takes place after we finish eating. There are so many great, fun songs, from “Ehad Mi Yodeah” to "Chad Gadya."Perhaps my favorite song is “Dayenu.” The words are fairly easy to sing in Hebrew, and the chorus is so catchy that even those who don’t know Hebrew can easily join in. But beyond its...
(1) How big of a problem is this?
According to the U.S. department of state, there are over 12 million slaves around the world.
(2) What is being done about the problem?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assists victims of trafficking in the United States by funding service programs and through public information campaigns.
(3) Why isn't more being done?
The answers to the first three questions are drawn from Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010). Excerpts are cited with “NJC” and the page number.
Why does America have the highest incarceration rate of any developed nation in the world?
Many factors have...
There have been many suggestions as to Judaism's most fundamental concept. Here's my candidate: In each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim.
Rav Kook says each of us took something from that experience that the world needs before it can be fully redeemed. Our father Abraham knew well how to argue with God, but he didn't argue when told his descendants would be slaves for...
The Passover Seder is one of the most recognized and widely practiced of Jewish rituals, yet had our ancestors visited one of these modern-day celebrations, they would be baffled. Not only does our modern Seder wildly diverge from the Passover of old: during antiquity itself the holiday underwent radical changes.
As the centralized Israelite state took shape about 3,000 years ago, the religion of the people...
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...
Breaking the middle matzah | yachatz | יַחַץ
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” in Greek. After dinner, the guests must hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up...
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you...
We are going to conclude our dinner tonight with a celebratory toast - a l’chaim.
Rather than filling our own cup tonight, though, and focusing on us as individuals, let’s fill someone else’s cup and recognize that, as a family and group of friends, we have the resources to help each other and those in our community if we are willing to share our resources and collaborate – whether those resources are...