Stranger in a Strange Land
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Stranger in a Strange Land
Just about everybody experiences the sense of being foreign sometime in their lives. Most of the adults at this table have immigrated from a foreign country. But even if you have lived in the same city your entire life, as an adult you no longer live in the same neighborhood you lived in when you were growing up. Your home is defined not only by place but also by time. People have changed; circumstances have changed. As a foreigner in that sense, you try to find a shared past with people. You may get excited to find that somebody you encounter grew up in the same city that you did, whereas, if you lived in the city where you grew up, you would probably not even stop to talk to that same person.
As a Jew, you have a built in sense of shared identity with other Jews. How does the fact that you are Jewish affect your self-identity in situations where you are a stranger? How important is being Jewish to you? What would the world be missing if there were no Jews any more? Tonight let's consider these questions and discuss our answers.
¿Qué hace diferente a esta noche de todas las [demás] noches? ¿Ma nishtaná haláila hazé micól haleilót?
1) En todas las noches no precisamos sumergir ni siquiera una vez, ¡y en esta noche lo hacemos dos veces? ...shebejól haleilót éin ánu matbilín afílu paám eját, haláila hazé shtéi peamím?
2) En todas las noches comemos jametz o matzá, ¡en esta noche solamente matzá? ...shebejól...
Mah Nishtana: What's New? What significant change has occurred in your life since this time last year? Name one meaningful piece of news.
Elijah's Cup is passed around as each guest speaks. A blessing or toast concludes the round.
Avadim Hayinu: Our Slavery. Identify the problem. What enslaves you today? What's holding you back from being freer, happy, and...
I write this year’s Prologue as Israel is going to the polls to decide whether to replace its present right-wing prime minister with the Zionist Union, a center-left political alliance. Whatever the outcome, chances are that Israel’s recent history of fractured politics and short-lived coalitions will probably continue. But why am I writing about Israel? you might ask. Aren’t there enough issues here at home for...
We’ve been bound by a hardened heart
And our inability to see ourselves in each other.
We have been puffed up by ego and pride.
Enslaved by how things have always been.
And now it is time to go.
But fear threatens to paralyze.
How can we possibly exist any other way?
Our imagination falters
The attachment to what we know is so great
It doesn’t matter that it...
If we were delivered from bondage while others remained enslaved, could we say "Dayenu?"
If we could be at peace while others died in wars, could we say "Dayenu?"
If we were born to prosper while others were born to weep, could we say "Dayenu?"
If we alone were chosen while others were forgotten, could we say "Dayenu?"
And if we have enough to eat while others starve, can we say "Dayenu?"
Free people ask questions. We begin our Seder with questions. Although the custom is that the youngest at the table asks, tradition instructs that all must ask:
Ma Neeshtana ha-laila ha-zeh meekol ha-laylot? Sheh-bichol ha-laylot anoo ochleem chametz oo-matzah. Halailah hazeh chametz oomatz. Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot anoo ochleem sheh-ar yerakot. Ha-lailah hazeh maror.
WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT THIS AS A JEW?
The Jewish people has been a refugee people since biblical times. In the United States, we know the devastating consequences of turning away refugees. Less than a century ago, refugees fleeing the Holocaust were marked as security threats to the U.S., denied entry, and sent back to Europe to be brutally murdered. Furthermore, the value of welcoming, protecting, and loving the...
The first words in the creation of the universe out of the unformed, void and dark earth were God’s “Let there be light." Therein lies the hope and faith of Judaism and the obligation of our people: to make the light of justice, compassion, and knowledge penetrate the darkness of our time till the prophecy be fulfilled, ‘that wickedness vanish like smoke and the earth shall be filled with knowledge of God as the...
There they were at the Seder table, as they always are. Between the first cup and the second cup, right in the middle of the telling of the tale, they made their appearance, right on schedule. First was the wise child, the one who seems to have all the answers; sober, sensible and responsible in everything he does. “We knew the end was coming,” said the wise child. “Mom had a long life, a good life. Her time had...
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:
(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday
(2) Maggid, the storytelling
(3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and
(4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.
The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the...
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Just about everybody experiences the sense of being foreign sometime in their lives. Most of the adults at this table have immigrated from a foreign country. But even if you have lived in the same city your entire life, as an adult you no longer live in the same neighborhood you lived in when you were growing up. Your home is defined not only by place but also by time. People have changed;...