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As we celebrate the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, we remember that there are 60 million displaced people around the world, people fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish, refugee resettlement organization, helps refugees find ways to live in safety and with dignity as we also mobilize the Jewish community’s response to the global refugee crisis. This Passover, we hope you will find inspiration in weaving the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt together with the stories of today’s refugees as we offer words of blessing and hope and commit ourselves to acting on behalf of refugees worldwide in the days to come.
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.
"For me, the recent meaning of Passover in my life has been a reclaiming of the seder ceremony away from the patriarchal tradition. My children may remember the seders of their early childhood, conducted by their grandfather entirely in Hebrew, incomprehensible to most in attendance, unvarying from year to year, except for how long it took until the children were sent away from the table for giggling. Before that, there...
Jill Levore's book Ghettoside argues that black boys are being murdered by their peers and their murders are being ignored by the police. In following the stories of a few victims in LA she finds the good cops among the indifferent and explores how a distrust in the police and a disbelief that the police would work for the community leaves disaster in its wake.
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...
Scene 1: In the Desert Moses is galloping (skipping on foot while clopping coconuts together to sound like hoofbeats) across the desert. He comes to a burning bush.
Bush: Halt! Who goes there!
Moses: A shrubbery! A talking shrubbery! One that looks nice, but is not too expensive. It is a good shrubbery. I like the laurels...
The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The tradition that the youngest person asks the questions reflects the centrality of involving everyone in the seder. The rabbis who created the set format for the seder gave us the Four Questions to help break the ice in case no one had their own questions. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life. If...
Pour the Second cup: resistance to oppression [Read:] In every generation, a Pharaoh rises up to enslave us. In every generation, every human being must seek to free the community anew. [All join in singing:] When Israel was in Egypt's land, Let my people go; Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let my people go! (Chorus:) Go down, Moses, 'Way down in Egypt's land; Tell ol' Pharaoh, Let my people go! Thus...
Back to basics, get rid of what is bloated and inflated
“Letting go means just what it says. It’s an invitation to cease clinging to anything- whether it be an idea, a thing, an event, a particular time, or view, or desire. It is a conscious decision to release with full acceptance into the stream of present moments as they are unfolding. To let go means to give up coercing, resisting or struggling, in...
Mah Nishtana: What's New? What significant change has occurred in your life since this time last year? Name one meaningful piece of news.
Elijah's Cup is passed around as each guest speaks. A blessing or toast concludes the round.
Avadim Hayinu: Our Slavery. Identify the problem. What enslaves you today? What's holding you back from being freer, happy, and...
Let us all refill our cups.
[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]
Tonight we drink four cups of the fruit of the vine.
There are many explanations for this custom.
They may be seen as symbols of various things:
the four corners of the earth, for freedom must live everywhere;
the four seasons of the year,...
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...
The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:
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...
We all carry around ideas and images of reality, frequently garnered from other people or from courses we have taken, books we have read, or from television, the radio, newspapers, the culture in general, which give us pictures of how things are and what is occurring. As a result, we often see our thoughts, or someone else's, instead of seeing what is right in front of us or inside of us. Often, we don't even bother to...
More Clips from HIAS
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THIS AS A JEW?
The Jewish people has been a refugee people since biblical times. In the United States, we know the devastating consequences of turning away refugees. Less than a century ago, refugees fleeing the Holocaust were marked as security threats to the U.S., denied entry, and sent back to Europe to be brutally murdered. Furthermore, the value of welcoming, protecting, and loving the...