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We gather on Passover to recall a moment of resistance and liberation in the history of our people. The story of Exodus reminds us of the transformative power that our people wield when we confront oppression. This summer we witnessed the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of the police; in the months that followed the #BlackLivesMatter movement blossomed from that stained soil and swept the country. From Ferguson to Staten Island, Black people resisted the discriminatory and abusive policing targeting them. #BlackLivesMatter, a term coined by activists Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors & Opal Tometi, demands that we recognize the full humanity and precious value of every individual Black life — that we cherish and fight for all people of African heritage. In this spirit, Jews For Racial & Economic Justice collaborated with inspiring activists and leaders from around the country to produce this Haggadah supplement. In it you will find additions to the Seder rituals & Haggadah text intended to highlight the role we believe Jews must play in confronting racism and abusive policing. Each piece of the supplement may provoke discussion, reflection or even contention. We hope that this wrestling, thinking and feeling — in the great tradition of our people — will be a powerful part of your Seder and will lead to meaningful action for justice.
Passover is a time for us to reflect on our own freedom and an opportunity to connect our lives with the struggles of others. At AVODAH, we support emerging Jewish leaders as they work to address some of the most pressing issues in the fight against poverty. We study the complex (and often overlapping) systemic issues that impact people in our country, and explore how Jewish tradition calls on us to respond. This year,...
Rumi, the Persian poet of the soul, understands the meaning of love in this way:
Your task is not to seek love
But merely to seek and ﬁnd all the barriers
That you have built against it.
The same can be said of freedom; we build barriers against it, barriers born of fear-fear of death, fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear...
One element of the story of the exodus that the Roberts' version elides is God's hardening of Pharaoh's heart. Moses Maimonides (ca 1135 - 1204 CE) recognized this element of the story as a significant paradox since it seemed to suggest that God forced Pharaoh to make the wicked decisions that brought about the punishment of the plagues. As Maimonides recognizes, if this were so, then the notion that the plagues were a...
"Passover" By Yehuda Amichai
My father was a god and did not know it. He gave me
The Ten Commandments neither in thunder nor in furry; neither in fire nor in cloud
But rather in gentleness and love. And he added caresses and kind words
and he added “I beg You,” and “please.”
And he sang “keep” and “remember” the Shabbat
In a single melody and he pleaded and
EVERY JEWISH FAMILY produces a unique version of the Passover seder—the big ritual meal of traditional foods, served after and amid liturgy, storytelling, and song. We’re all surprised at each other’s customs: You eat lamb? You don’t sing “Chad Gad Ya”? And yet, virtually every seder does share a few common elements. Matzoh crumbs all over the floor. Wine stains on the tablecloth. A seder plate containing...
The Fifth Question: What can we do to help alleviate poverty?
There are numerous charities which aim to get donations to end poverty. It is important to make food and money to these various charities to help others. We must remember that we were once "strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). This quote appears numerous times in the Torah and explains to us to have sympathy for others because we were once...
The traditional haggadah speaks of Ten Plagues by which God accomplished our liberation from Egypt. Tonight, we enumerate plagues of psychiatric conditions, which hinder our sense of wholeness, health, and freedom. For each one, our cup of joy is diminished by one drop:
“An Invitation to a Plant-Based Meal”
Adam Gorod, Jewish Veg. D.C.
Our food choices during the Exodus were so much simpler. We could subsist on manna alone. Free of animal products, manna was a bread from heaven with a taste like coriander seed. Today the options—even during Passover—are more varied. Any number of Kosher-for-Passover items sit in the curated displays of...
By 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 blistering storm
that slapped the roof hard, pouring through.
The courage to abandon the graves dug into the hill,
The orange on our seder plate is a symbol of "the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life. In addition, each orange segment had a few seeds that had to be spit out - a gesture of spitting out, repudiating the homophobia that poisons too many Jews."
More Clips from Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
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
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...
Having now told the story of Jews’ Exodus from Mitzrayim we have come to know Miriam, Moses, Pharaoh, Tzipporah and the role each of them played. Sarah Barasch-Hagans & Graie Barasch-Hagans use these roles to help us understand our roles in the fight against oppression — when we are strong allies and when we still struggle to be our best selves.
Singing Dayenu is a 1000-year old Passover tradition. The 15-stanza poem thanks G-d for 15 blessings bestowed upon the Jews in the Exodus. Had G-d only parted the seas for us, “It would have been enough” we say for each miracle or divine act, thus humbly appreciating the immensity of the gifts. KB Frazier’s reworking of the poem addresses us, rather than G-d. It calls us to greater action for justice, saying...