[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Let us tell a story of Jewish hope. The tale of our people's first quest for freedom from slavery in Egypt was written so long ago. Like all good traditions, its moral lessons are valid and important. It is written that long ago, during a time of famine, the ancient Israelites traveled to Egypt. At that time the Israelites were all in a single family - Jacob and his children.

One of Jacob's sons was Joseph. He was so wise that the ruler of Egypt - the Pharaoh - made Joseph a leader over all the people of Egypt. But as time passed, another Pharaoh became the ruler of Egypt. He did not remember about Joseph and his wise leadership. This new Pharaoh turned the Israelites into slaves, and burdened them with heavy work and sorrow.

After the Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years, a man arose among them. He demanded that Pharaoh let his people go! Many times he risked his life to insist on the freedom of his people, until he finally succeeded. At our Passover Seder, we celebrate the story of Moses and the people he led out of slavery 3000 years ago. We celebrate the struggle of all people to be free. Throughout the centuries, the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt has inspired Jews and non-Jews in times of persecution and hardship.

Let us remember that the thirst for freedom exists in all people. Many centuries after the legendary time of Moses, African people were brought to America as slaves. These slaves longed for freedom, and they were inspired by the story of Moses and the ancient Israelites. When the slaves in America sang "Go Down Moses," they were thinking of their own leaders who were working to end slavery.

The freedom we celebrate tonight is not only freedom from slavery. It is also the freedom to live in peace, with dignity and with hope for a bright future. This constant vision has inspired the Jewish people since the ancient times when the Bible was written. For centuries, most Jews lived in Europe, where they were often persecuted. They were driven from place to place, and their lives were often filled with terror and despair.

There came a time when many Jewish families learned of a place called America, where people could live without fear. This was the promise that America held out to them and to many other suffering people. By the thousands, and then by the millions, year after year they crossed a large ocean. Enduring separation from all they had known, they faced the dangers of a long voyage before reaching the shores of America.

For a time, many suffered from poverty and disease. Yet their courage, perseverance, and skills, helped to advance the freedoms that we celebrate here tonight. This evening, as we celebrate our own freedom let us take notice of the on-going struggles toward freedom here and in many other parts of the world.

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story