“There are many forms of oppression and violence in society that, for reasons of culture or tradition, remain largely unexamined. Walking the path of holistic nonviolence is about questioning ALL forms of oppression and violence, seeking to better understand their common roots, and choosing alternatives. It is about being unwilling -- directly or indirectly -- to take part in violence, to profit from the harm of others, or to willfully ignore oppression. It is about refusing to intentionally take away the dignity, bodily integrity, freedom, or the life of another individual, no matter how they may differ from ourselves, be they a fellow human or a fellow animal.

Pursuing this path is not about being perfect, but about challenging ourselves to ever expand our understanding of how our actions affect others, and over time, to come closer and closer to the ideal of nonviolence toward all. It is a long term path of self-development, integrity and service. It places a special focus on respecting, advocating for, and, when possible, empowering those who are being oppressed, exploited or killed. Most importantly, it is a path based on cherishing and protecting life, and celebrating the beauty and joy we can create together.”

                                                 -Tribe of Heart, from  Introducing Holistic Nonviolence

The Passover Seder is a special ceremonial dinner in which we gather together and retell the story of the Israelite's freedom from bondage in Egypt. The Hebrew word for this Holiday, "Pesach" has two meanings. The first is "Passing over" and refers to the fact that the angel of death passed over the Israelite's homes, when they were slaves in Egypt. Pesach is also a reference to the pascal lamb -- which was ritually sacrificed, according to the story, to protect the Israelites from the angel of death and similar sacrifices became part of early celebrations of Passover.

In biblical times people were faced with frequent food insecurity, and killing animals may have aided survival. But in America today we can abstain from such violence, without putting our survival at risk. Furthermore, we may even harm ourselves by continuing traditions that kill other animals. As Dr. William Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology has said, “When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh was never intended for human beings who are naturally herbivores.” Heart disease is our leading cause of death.

We tell the story of Passover using a "Haggadah" which means, “telling” in Hebrew, and there are many variations of Haggadah that can be used as the narrative for the Seder.

Passover invites us to not only retell this story of freedom from slavery in the past, but to also consider the plight of those who are not free today and reminds us to be welcoming to those seeking freedom. Even with no personal experience of slavery, most beings seem to passionately want freedom. Because as MLK says, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, let us take note of where others are currently not free. Can you give an example of someone who is not free? (Go around room.)

haggadah Section: Introduction