We’re so glad you can join us. The word “haggadah” means “telling”, and refers to the story of the Exodus that we read at Passover. As you may soon notice, there is a bit more in here than the traditional Passover story. There are stories from some of our friends about what Passover means to them. There is a glossary and a resource list, and lots of commentary. We aimed high and have pulled out quite a bit of hair; fought back the urge to give up, eat Nutella and watch Will & Grace; and learned a lot in the process.
We are both white, Ashkenazi middle-class folks and long-time activists/organizers. We are both queer, Micah is a tranny/alien type. Neither of us grew up in religiously observant households. Most of what we know about Jewish practice, we have learned as adults. We are both familiar with the particular frustration and embarrassment that can arise from not knowing about your own culture, not knowing how or what to ask. And for those of us who are also marginalized because of class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, etc., Jewish knowledge can be especially hard to come by. We have tried to create a source of information that would be welcoming to people of different backgrounds and knowledge and experience levels.
We see Jewishness as many things – a spiritual practice, and a collection of many deeply connected cultures and ethnicities. We hope that someday there will be many spiritually-resonant, politically progressive mutli-cultural, multi-ethnic haggadot. We realize we are far from that point and that this is still a very Ashkenazi-centric document. We hope this is a step in the right direction, and will nudge the door a little further open, for all the beautiful work to come.
Today, as the U.S. has begun/intensified yet another war on poor folks of color overseas and at home, we are all feeling the need for some cultural, spiritual and personal healing. And as the U.S.-backed Israeli war on Palestine continues, many of us American Jews continue to struggle with how to resist the horror of what is done in our name, while also holding dear our Jewish identities. We struggle with how to heal from the centuries of violence our families have carried, in order to be better allies to others and ourselves. As the U.S. Jewish establishment swings further to the right, allying with Christian fundamentalists and warmongers, we refuse to give up our vision of a liberatory Judaism. We refuse to give up the right to engage with, transform and reclaim our traditions, and to create the loving and inclusive cultures we know they can be. And we refuse to do this alone.
This process of cultural transformation is itself an ancient Jewish tradition. “More than 3500 version of the Haggadah have been published since the 13th century, when the first one appeared in book form.” We have drawn from many haggadot in the compilation of this text. These sources were inspiring and gorgeous, and we offer our deepest thanks to everyone whose words we have included. Many haggadot we referenced were themselves xeroxed compilations from other works. We have tried to give credit as best we could, and offer our sincere apologies to anyone whose name is not listed.
We wish you the best of Seders. Talk, question, learn, argue, sing. Engage with what we have written and compiled. Reflect on your deepest spiritual beliefs or simply enjoy the food. This is a celebration of freedom, liberation, and a remembrance of slavery and oppression. We live in a time in which all of this feels very close to the surface, and yet out of reach. May we all live next year in a world of justice and peace. And may we all work together to build that world. Kayn Yihee Ratzon/ Inshallah...
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