We might think the most basic encapsulation of the haggadah is in the simple song that children learn in Jewish preschool, which comes right after the Four Questions:
Avadim hayinu, hayinu / We were slaves
Atah b'nai horin, b'nai horin / Now we are free
But as adults, we know that “now we are free” is an oversimplification. We are trapped in so many overlapping oppressive systems. Indeed, at the end of the avadim hayinu paragraph, the haggadah offers us an alternative thesis statement, inviting us to go beyond the basics:
וְכָל הַמַרְבֶה לְסַפֵר בִיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻבָח
The more we expand the telling of the Exodus,
the more praiseworthy.
The more we expand our perspective to include diverse liberation struggles and the action needed to bring them to fruition, the better. In the service of that expansion, this haggadah makes the following arguments:
1. The United States was founded on fundamentally racist principles and has yet to fully grapple with that legacy.
2. America’s appetite for cheap goods and labor can only survive through exploitative labor practices and immigration, and our immigration policies expose people to further abuse.
3. Forced labor does not happen in a vacuum but in the context of powerful systems that treat some people as less valuable or worthy than others.
4. If we want to reconstruct our country so it fulfills its stated values, we will have to follow the solutions and leadership of thus-far marginalized communities: women, people of color, low-wage workers, and immigrants.
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