4000 Years ago - Abraham - Town of Ur in Chaldea - Babylon - Now Iraq, Abraham migrated to the land of Canaan, newar the Dead Sea, now Israel. He had a son, Isaac, who had sons Esau and Jacob.

Jacob had 12 sons; they became the Israelite Tribes.

Jacob's son Joseph, with his family and their offspring migrated? or were sold? to Egypt. They became established a farmers along the Nile. Joseph himself became an advisor to one of the Pharaohs.

This brings us to tonight's celebration.

It appears that drought came to Canaan and Joseph sent for the other branches of his family. He invited them to come to Egypt. The Nile floods annually and fertilizes the land; this area is less subject to rainfall, at least in Egypt. these families grew larger and larger over the years. 

1800-1500 BC - New Pharaohs assumed control

Words of Exodus: The Israelites or Jews became enslaved; they were probably one of many tribes who lived in Egypt. Part of the Seder tonight covers the slavery in Egypt and the final redemption and exodus from Egypt of the Israelites. The exodus occurred approximately 1200 BC.

After 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Peninsula where Moses died, the Israelites arrived in Canaan and under Joshua defeated the Canaanites at Jericho and took possession of the land.

As a result of their enslavement and subsequent liberation, the Jewish religion has established a sense of social responsibility toward the poor and other less fortunate people. Even in the destruction of their enemies, when the Egyptians drowned in the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites were told to abstain from gloating at the misfortune of their erstwhile enemies.

We will bypass this period to complete our cycle of history.

The Israelites multiplied and established the Kingdom of David.

925-1000 BC - Solomon - This takes us to the peak of Israelite power in the Middle East with the capital in Jerusalem and its Temple.

After Solomon - internal strife and external attacks decreased the size of the kingdom. The country split into two, with the northern part called Israel and the southern part called Judea.

722 BC The Northern Kingdom fell around this time as a result of the attacks from armies from Persia and Babylonia. They dispersed the tribes living in Israel, Judea, the southern kingdom was able to hold out until 586 BC when Jerusalem fell and the 1st Temple was destroyed. The people went into exile in Babylon.

536 BC The Babylonian King allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to re-establish their land; some did, but many did not and became the predecessors of multiple Jewish communities in the Middle East.

63 BC The Romans conquered most of Israel and Judea. The Romans finally destroyed the 2nd Temple and crushed the remaining resistance at Masada. This spelled the end of Jewish Independence.

Simultaneously, among many attempts at religious renaissance, a Jew named Jesus was born and so we come to the birth of the Catholic religion out of which 1500 years later Protestantism originate, and so we come full circle to the western religions. 

With the fall of the Second Temple and the Roman dispersion, our family history begins.

Jews were taken to Rome and other parts of Italy by the Romans and finally north along the rivers, primarily the Rhine. Jewish presence began there in 100 AD and lasted until 1940, the Holocaust, which brings us to roughly present day.

As a result of personal research, I have been able to trace the origins of my part of the family to the early 1700's. One part comes from a town called Rheinback, about 15 miles south of Cologne, where I was born. This leaves me only about 1600 years more to research.

Manfred Simon, 2016

haggadah Section: Commentary / Readings