Welcome to all as we celebrate the Pesach. It is a time for joy and relaxa tion, time to lie on pillows and drink wine. A time to ponder our history, and to find its relevance in our lives today And it is a time to renew our courage in order to transform our planet into a place of peace.

Pesakh means "passover" and refers to the night when the Angel of Death passed over the Jewish houses in Egypt, while inflicting sorrow and tragedy on the Egyptian homes. This occurred approximately 1200 B.C.E when 600,000 of our people were slaves in Egypt.

Pesakh was celebrated for the first time on the first anniversary of the Exodus from Egypt, when we were still in the wilderness and had not yet reached the promised land.

In later times, the Pascal sacrifices amb or goat) were made by each family in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) at the Temple to commemorate the Exodus. It was a time of pilgrimage, and the city was alive with celebration, fire, and song. Today the sacrifice is symbolic only. but the rejoicing continue and lasts for eight days.

Many of the rituals and customs included in the Hagadah date from Second Temple times, and from the years immediately following destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 C.E. Some prayers are much older, and a few songs are a youthful 500 years old.

Pesakh falls on the first Full Moon of Spring. the 14th of the month Nisan. The flood of moonlight enhances the evening's joyous mood. Pesach is the first holiday of the Jewish agricultural calendar, and is also known Khag ha Aviv, Festival of Spring. We celebrate the Earth's renewal, and remind ourselves of our interdependence with all that lives on our planet.

Pesakh not only marks the rebirth of the Earth's vegetation, but commemorates the birth of the Jewish nation. Egypt was the womb. the Yam Soof was the birth canal, and Sinai was our infancy. Slavery did not end in Egypt. Many peoples have been slaves since then and each of us is a slave to some degree even today, We are slaves when we are silent while atrocities happen around the planet. We are slaves when we are unable to be ourselves, either from outside oppression or from our own lack of courage. 

The Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, comes from the root, Tzar, meaning narrow or inhibited (ancient Egypt followed the narrow Nile. Thus, leaving egypt has also come to mean that each of us must break the shackles of narrow-mindedness which bind us to ignorance and hatred.

Feel free to ask questions, to share affable and signs, and to play musical instruments.

A special welcome to those of other cultures who share our joy with us tonight. May our togetherness give us the courage to continue the struggle for freedom.

And now we begin

haggadah Section: Introduction