Why Include Prayers?

Haggadah Section: Introduction

It might seem odd to have prayers and references to God within a Marxist haggadah, and I certainly could have secularized the text completely. However, this is a Reconstructionist Marxist haggadah, and rather than throwing out traditional texts like prayers, we reinterpret and revalue them to fit within our understanding of the world. As Marxists, this means fitting a God concept within dialectical and historical materialism, a project I've been engaged in for quite some time.

The Hebrew word to pray, lehitpalel, is actually a reflexive verb meaning to think about oneself or reflect upon oneself. As a dialectical materialists I do not believe in a higher or greater power outside humanity and the material reality. What I do believe in, what I have felt and experienced over and over, is the power of human community and solidarity to enact change in our world. When we pray we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on the positive things we have in our world and the negative things that we need to continue to fight against.

We can connect with history and community through prayer, saying the words that have been said for thousands of years but which are given new meanings by each generation. We can say prayers and sing them, we can think them and feel them. We can act our prayer in our kindnesses and political activities. There is an opportunity in each thing that we do to open our eyes and expand our consciousness of all the human and natural processes going on around us. And with this awareness we can change the world.

The Passover seder contains many powerful symbols and teachings about liberation, social and political change, and bringing together communities. The prayers are retained as part of a revalued practice to elevate our Marxist understandings to a place of higher consciousness.

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Passover Guide

Hosting your first Passover Seder? Not sure what food to serve? Curious to
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