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“The Four Children” provides an opportunity to talk about modern-day labels and how we think of people with varying strengths and weaknesses. Can any child really be summarized with one terse label? Can any individual be described so succinctly – wise, wicked, simple, and not knowing how to ask? Advocates for children with learning differences (or anyone with "special needs") often talk about “people-first language.” For example, we talk about a “child with autism” but not an “autistic child;” we refer to “children with learning disabilities” but not “learning disabled children.” The differences may seem slight. But we use people-first language to recognize the whole person and not identify him/her by any one ability or disability. So, too, we can think about – and discuss - the four children of the Passover seder as parts of a whole.
A Meditation on the Four Children
by Rabbi Brant Rosen
As Jews, how do we respond when we hear the tragic news regularly coming out of Israel/Palestine? How do we respond to reports of checkpoints and walls, of home demolitions and evictions, of blockades and military incursions?
It might well be said that there are four very different children deep inside each of us, each reacting in his or her own...
The great sage Hillel provided us with the tradition of constructing the Hillel sandwich, combining the bitterness of the maror with the sweetness of the charoset between the fortitude of the two pieces of matzah--the symbol of freedom. Through this ritual, we think about mortar and brick. We think of the Israelites traveling through the desert with no homes, no place to land and build up their strong communities, and...
This is a compilation of ideas to help the seder be fun and engaging for the entire family.
Fun ideas for preparing the Passover table:
1. Include a Tzedakka box on the table. Have everyone put money in the tzedakah box before eating.
2. Yemenite Jews line the edge of the table all around with leaves of Romaine lettuce. The lettuce is then used for Maror....
We have come together this evening for many reasons.
We are here because Spring is all around, the Earth is reborn,
and it is a good time to celebrate with family and friends.
We are here because we are Jews,
because we are members of the Jewish nation,
with its deep historic roots and its valuable old memories and stories.
We are here to remember the old story of the...
The 1951 Refugee Convention clearly states that host countries must permit asylum seekers and refugees to engage in both wage-earning and self-employment. According to asylum experts, “the right [to work] has been recognized to be so essential to the realization of other rights that without the right to work, all other rights are meaningless.” Even with these legal protections, though, outside of the United States,...
The Paschal Lamb reminds us that the Holy One, praised be God, passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt.
The Matzah is to remind us that before the dough our ancestors prepared for bread had time to rise, God revealed the might, power and presence of God unto them and redeemed them.
The Bitter Herbs are to remind us that the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in...
(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 Shehecheyanu is a prayer that Jews have been saying for over 2000 years to mark special occasions. Tonight, all of us here together is special occasion. Whether Jewish or not, we have come here under a shared belief that everyone is entitled to be free. We all believe that everyone is entitled to certain inalienable rights. We all believe that we must treat our brothers and sisters with common decency. That is...
[Resume taking turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]
Passover is the celebration of life.
The story of the Jewish people is truly a triumph of life.
Against the odds of history, the Jewish people have done more than survive -
we have adapted creatively to each new time, each new place,
from the birth of our people to the present...
On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.
The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of...
Why is there no orange on our Seder plate?
In the early 1980s, while speaking at Oberlin College Hillel, Susannah Heschel was introduced to an early feminist Haggadah that suggested adding a crust of bread on the Seder plate, as a sign of solidarity with Jewish lesbians (there's as much room for a lesbian in Judaism as there is for a crust of bread on the seder plate). Heschel felt that to...
Reader 40: In recent history, we have added an additional piece of matza in our Seder. This matza is set aside as a symbol of hope for the Jews of the World. It reminds us of the links that exist amongst us. While we observe this festival of freedom, we know that there are some areas in the world where discrimination towards Jews still exist.
Before the blessing over the first cup of wine, say:
We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own...
At Passover each year, we read the story of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. When confronting this history, how do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?
WHAT DOES THE ACTIVIST CHILD ASK?
“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice you shall pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the...
The olive branch is a universal symbol of peace, associated with the dove in the story of Noah's Ark and the Flood.
Olive trees mature slowly, so only when there was an extended time of peace, with agriculture left undisturbed, could the olive tree produce its fruit. In 2008, Jewish Voice for Peace promoted putting an olive on the seder plate as part of its Trees of Reconciliation project, which sought to donate...