There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We break the middle matzah in half, acknowledging our own brokenness and recognizing that imperfect people can usher in liberation. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally "dessert." After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen.

The broken matzah may also be seen as symbolizing the need for the Jewish people to give up the idea of running and controlling all of Palestine, when in fact what we need is viable solution in which every human being is free and each group’s right to self determination is recognized.

We cannot celebrate this Passover without acknowledging the biggest distortion in Jewish life today – the often blind worship of the State of Israel in an era when Israel has become for the Palestinian people the current embodiment of Pharaoh-like oppression.

Israel, the state of the Jewish people, has in some ways failed to embody the highest values of the Jewish tradition in the way it treats our brothers and sisters, the Palestinian people. This treatment includes the human rights violations and the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, the seizing of Arab and Bedouin lands, the imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians without a trial by their peers.

While both many Jews around the world and many Americans are in denial about the brutality of Israel’s occupation and the suffering caused by its blockade of Gaza, the revelations by Israeli soldiers themselves of acts of brutality they personally witnessed their peers committing in Gaza and the West Bank, and assaults on random West Bank Palestinians and the destruction of their olive trees, documented by the soldiers’ organization Breaking the Silence, cause many Jews to be deeply saddened and outraged at Israel’s behavior. These are not isolated incidents. They are the inevitable consequence of imposing and enforcing occupation.

We acknowledge that Israel is not the worst perpetrator of human rights violations in the world. Our own country, the United states has committed atrocities far beyond the situation in Israel and Palestine. We also acknowledge how anti-semitism has been overlooked in far-left narratives about the conflict. And we are aware that the attempt by Hamas to bomb the cities of Israel in the summer of 2014 contributed greatly to an electoral victory of the hard-right-wing in Israel, which is unlikely to allow equal rights to emerge. And we have great compassion for Israelis who fear that the violence of the Islamic State, only a short distance from Israel, might spill over to Palestinians.

The political discussion surrounding the conflict often polarizes the recurring reactionary violence attributing it to once side. But the way to prevent all this is to end the conflict with Palestinians and create a lasting peace by manifesting a spirit of generosity and seeing the spirit of humanity in the Palestinian people as it is in all people including even the most reactionary Israelis.

  • What pieces of this text do you resonate with? What pieces do your struggle with?

  • In what ways do you participate in conversations and communities that reinforce the binaries you may hold to be true?

haggadah Section: Yachatz
Source: Taken in part from Tikkun, with additions