We gather on Passover to recall a moment of resistance and liberation in the history of the Jewish people. A traditional Passover seder is a festive, ritual-rich meal in which we remember the ancient Jewish story of liberation from slavery in Egypt. Over the centuries, thousands of different versions of the Passover haggadah, or “narrative,” have been written. Tonight, our haggadah will connect an ancient liberation story to liberation struggles that are still ongoing. And so we gather this evening to acknowledge that the Exodus story is not only about Israelites or Jews, but all who have cried out to God from the pain of persecution and oppression.

Last 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. #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.

    We also gather to affirm that our telling of this story cannot be complete unless we include the experience of the Palestinian people, whose Exodus story is all too real and all too ongoing. In our generation, liberating Israelis and Palestinians from the yoke of the occupation, which is subjugating both societies, is imperative. Tonight we lift the voices of those who still face the Pharaohs of discrimination, oppression, and marginalization. We will celebrate the resilience of the human spirit and take responsibility to lessen the daily demands on that spiritual strength.


haggadah Section: Introduction