Pesach is a time of Inclusion

Haggadah Section: Urchatz

Pesach is a time of inclusion. 

On Seder night, we metaphorically open our doors and invite others in. We say, “All who are hungry come and eat.” Today especially this is an important message. We were once slaves; poor and hungry, we honor our redemption by sharing what we have with others.   We also open the door for Elijah the Prophet as a statement of our faith in the goodness of others and ourselves and thus in our responsibility to contribute to the well-being of others when we are able to do so.

Inclusion motivates us to make this Seder plant-based. A plant based meal is more easily kosher, is inclusive for Muslims, Hindus, Catholics celebrating lent, environmentalists seeking to lower their carbon and water footprints, and for vegans.   Vegans often feel left out of traditional Seders because they find celebrating their ancestor's freedom from slavery, while sitting at table filled with the body parts of contemporary victims of slavery hypocritical and disturbing. A plant-based meal is most consistent with the spirit of Passover. We can celebrate our ancestor's freedom from slavery, without having our celebration contribute to present day enslavement of others.  This is why we have not knowingly placed on our table any items that require intentional violence against, nor enslavement of any being. Passover celebrations incorporate much symbolism, so we give careful consideration to the items that we include on our table. From the most downtrodden to the most celebrated, the message is clear: everyone is welcome and everyone is necessary.

During the Exodus, food was an issue. This is still true today too. Environmental issues are linked to diet as well as health. A meat and dairy based diet initiates a chain of events which threatens our survival. Cattle grazing leads to loss of topsoil and dessertification. Confined animal feeding operations (CAFO's) provide most of the meat and dairy in the US, but create mountains of excrement, that run into streams and the ocean creating vast dead zones, yet there is not enough land in America to feed all those who eat meat and dairy using pasture-based systems. Most of the grain currently grown, is used to fatten animals for the most privileged humans to eat -- with huge inefficiencies. It takes 5-12 pounds of grain to produce a single pound of meat. Though the world currently produces enough grain to adequately feed every human on the planet, much of that grain is used to fatten animals, who become "meat" for the wealthy, while less privileged humans go hungry. Animal agriculture is inherently unjust on many levels.

We fear the loss of effectiveness of antibiotics, and the biggest factor causing antibiotic resistance is their routine use in farm animals. We fear the emergence of new pandemics, while few realize that most infectious diseases plaguing humanity originated in animals and spread to humans as a direct result of our exploitation of them. Meat production consumes vastly more water and creates more greenhouse gasses then growing fruits, vegetables and beans. The Torah commands us to have compassion for animals, to care for our health and to repair the world (Tikkun Olam.) For all of these reasons, a plant-based diet is most consistent with Jewish ethics.

Writings from other religions can be used to support not harming other beings too.  The Prophet Mohammed said:

“A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.”

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Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
know more about the holiday? Explore our Passover 101 Guide for answers
to all of your questions.

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