Someone reads:
“The ten plagues of the Exodus story were all ecological disasters.

The Plagues were not lightning-bolts flung by a Super-Pharaoh in the sky, but eco-disasters brought about by the arrogance and stubbornness of a top-down, unaccountable ruler, Pharaoh.

“In the ancient past, the Plagues interrupted the flow of food to human beings and other life-forms. In the present as well, there are Plagues that disrupt the flow of food from species to species, Earth to human earthlings.  And so today we mark our Plagues by interrupting the foods that mark our Seder.

As the community recites the Plagues, we grieve for the Earth and human beings who have suffered from these Plagues by diminishing our pleasure in the fruit of the vine. And we ask ourselves: Today, what Plagues are our own “pharaohs,” the 1%, the global corporations, bringing on our Earth?

For each Plague, we drop some wine or grape-juice from our glasses.

  • Undrinkable water poisoned by fracking.
  • Asthma: Lungs suffering from coal dust and gasoline fumes. 
  • Suffering and death for fish, birds, vegetation, and human beings from the oil upheaval in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Smashed mountains and dead coal-miners in the lovely hills of West Virginia.
  • Unheard-of droughts in Africa, setting off hunger, starvation, civil wars and genocide.
  • Drought in Russia, setting off peat-bog fires and scarcity of wheat.
  • Summer-long intense heat wave in Europe, killing thousands of elders.
  • Unheard-of floods in Pakistan, putting one-fifth of the country under water.
  • Superstorm Sandy, killing hundreds in Haiti and America.
  • Years of drought and fires in Australia.
  • Parched corn fields and dead crops in the US corn-belt

Participants add other Plagues of today.

Someone reads:
“If the people speak and the king doesn’t listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.”
— Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

  • “In those years, people will say, we lost track 
of the meaning of we, of you/
we found ourselves 
reduced to I/ 
and the whole thing became
 silly, ironic, terrible:
 /we were trying to live a personal life
 /and yes, that was the only life 
we could bear witness to.
    “But the great dark birds of history screamed and plunged into our personal weather
/ They were headed somewhere else but their beaks and pinions drove 
along the shore,/ through the rags of fog
 where we stood, /saying I
— Adrienne Rich, In Those Years


We have turned from joy to grief; now we turn from grief to healing.

Pour each person a cup of wine or grape juice:

Question:  “Why do we drink this fruit of the vine?”  — 

“Because grapes grow not alone but in clusters, and we must work for freedom and justice, peace and healing not separately, each a lonely, isolated ‘I,’ but in clusters of community. We.”

“Because the juice of the grape begins in sweetness; ferments to sour; and then turns sweet again, this time as wine able to change and lift our consciousness. Just so the struggle to heal our Mother Earth begins in sweetness, turns sour as the Earth is wounded, and  becomes a higher sweetness as we act to heal what has been sorely wounded.”

Blessed are You, Yahhh, Breathing Spirit of the world, Who breathes our breath into the grapevine and breathes the fruit of the vine into our bodies.

[At each table, someone pours wine or juice into the Cup of Elijah, which for now is left sitting untasted in the center of the table.]

Everyone gets one “sheet” of matzah.

Question: Why do we eat this pressed-down bread?

“ Because it begins as the bread of affliction, the bread of a pressed-down people — but becomes the bread of Freedom when we hasten toward our liberation.”

Each person breaks the matzah and hands one piece to a neighbor.

 “Why do we break and share the matzah?”

“Because if we do not share it, it remains the bread of affliction; when we share it, it becomes the bread of freedom.”

Together say: “Blessed are You, Breathing-Spirit of the world, who through sun and soil, seed and human sweat, brings forth this bread from the Earth.”

All eat the matzah given them by someone else.

 Someone reads each of these passages:

“And what in our traditions past can teach our own generation how to heal ourselves and our wounded Earth?”

 “The seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to Yahh, the Breath of life; you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather; it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.  For the land is Mine; you are but strangers and visitors with Me.” (Leviticus 25)

”At the end of every seven years you shall grant a Release.  Every creditor shall Release what s/he has lent to a neighbor; s/he shall not exact it of the neighbors, because Yahhh, the Interbreathing of all life, has proclaimed a Release from debt.” (Deut. 15)

“Now the king said to the midwives of the Hebrews, whose names were Shifrah and Puah:
”When you help the Hebrew women give birth, if he be a son, put him to death; but if she be a daughter, she may live.” But the midwives held God in awe, and they let the children live. God dealt well with the midwives. (Exodus 1: 16-21).”

“God came into the picture. What was the sign that God had come? A bush that burned and burned and did not stop burning. Moses had had a fire kindled in his heart once, but it died down. God is the Being whose heart does not stop burning, whose flame does not die down.

“What was God all burned up about? The voice said, ‘I have seen the affliction of my people in the Tight &Narrow Place and have heard them cry out because of their oppression… . And the proof that God had entered into Moses, and that Moses had really been ‘converted,’ was that he had to go back and identify himself with his enslaved people  —  ‘organize them into Brickmakers’ Union Number One’ and lead them out of hunger and slavery into freedom and into ‘a good land, and a large, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ (A. J. Muste , 1943).

  “Before entering Miquat (where you get ready to start the Hajj [Pilgrimage to Mecca]) which is the beginning of a 
great change and revolution, you must declare your intention. It is the intention of a “transferral” from your house 
to the house of the people, from life to love, from the self to God, from slavery to freedom, from racial discrimination 
to equality, sincerity and truth, from being clothed to being naked, from a daily life to an eternal life and from
 selfishness and aimlessness to devotion and responsibility.
”   — Ali Shariati, Hajj

“If we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.”  —  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  April 4, 1967


haggadah Section: -- Ten Plagues