For so many of us, the Seder is a ritual to ‘get through.’ There is someone rushing through the words, another person checking the clock, another drooling over the smells from the kitchen. What if as the seder unfolds, we knew we could look forward to an opportunity for pause and reflection? Using the prompts below, transform your seder table into a circle of balance.
Note: These exercises can either make up a complete ‘mindfulness seder’, or you can choose one or more to incorporate into a seder you are leading or attending.
Kadeish קדש – recital of Kiddush blessing and drinking of the first cup of wine
As you begin the seder, there is often a great deal of anticipation. Looking forward to that first sip of wine, taste of matza, warm soup…instead of counting how many pages to the next section, focus in on each step of this ritual. One method is to narrate (either out loud or in your mind) each step as objectively as possible: “I am holding the glass. I am opening the wine. I am pouring the wine. I am holding up the glass. [say blessing] I am sipping the wine. I am swallowing the wine.” Notice what arises in this practice - is it calm and presence, or more agitation or anticipation? Bonus: try it for each of the 4 cups and see how it changes.
Urchatz ורחץ – the washing of the hands
Water is life and our hands are purified by the waters. Instead of washing and then rushing to dry them off, hold your wet hands open on your lap or on the edge of the table. Sit in silence or quiet whispers as you watch and feel the water evaporating. Take bets on when they will be fully dry or have a contest who can go the longest without drying them on the closest napkin.
Karpas כרפס – dipping of the karpas in salt water
Reciting blessings over our food is a chance to slow down and connect to the source of our nourishment. Assemble platters of three or more vegetables for each guest, or invite each guest to assemble mini platters at their seat after passing around a tray of vegetables. Choosing one item at a time, hold it in the air with your focus on the vegetable. What’s did it look like while in the ground? (You may wish to provide photos - I’m especially fond of photos of potato plants!) Close your eyes and imagine the trip from the ground to the store to your plate. Then say the blessing.
Yachatz יחץ – breaking the middle matza
The breaking of the matza should be done in silence. As you prepare for the break, count three long breaths with eyes open and focus on the matza, held high for all to see. Listen closely to the sound of the matza breaking. At this moment, we hold the paradox of wholeness and brokenness; the matza is both the bread of our affliction and the bread of freedom. Take three more deep breaths. Optional: Share with someone next to you or the whole table - what paradoxes in your life are you sitting with today?
Maggid מגיד – retelling the Passover story, including the recital of "the four questions" and drinking of the second cup of wine
Dayeinu: What in our lives do we take for granted, but may actually be enough for us? Share with someone next to you or the entire table. After each person shares, respond: Dayeinu!
Rachtzah רחצה – second washing of the hands
So much of the seder is talking and listening. Finally, here’s a part that has almost no talking. After you say the hand washing blessing, choose a niggun (simple wordless melody) that you and your guests can carry until everyone has finished washing. Use eye contact and the raising of the matza for motzi to signal the end of the blessing.
Motzi Matza מוציא מצה – blessing before eating matzo
The first bit of matza is always the driest. One is truly meant to savor that bite and not mix with any other dips or spreads. As you begin to munch on the first bit, notice what thoughts, feelings, and sensations arise. Joy, dryness, satiation...what else? Allow these to come and go without judgement until your serving of matza is consumed.
Maror מרור – eating of the maror
The embodied practice of purposely consuming maror has deep symbolism. Dipping ¾ ounces of maror into charoset, which is sweet, brings healing and alignment as we approach the formal meal.
Koreich כורך – eating of a sandwich made of matzah and maror
Koreich is a memory sandwich. Since we no longer slaughter a lamb for the paschal sacrifice, there is only maror on our matzo sandwich. Though the pesach sacrifice is primarily represented with the zroa, shankbone, on the seder plate, our memory sandwich is the key moment of the seder to recall this sacrifice. Though we do not recite an additional blessing for this sandwich, as we chew, we recline and recall the communal rite of the shared roasted lamb.
The moment we consume this sandwich, we are simultaneous recalling the Pesach offering, both from Temple times and from our last night in Egypt. What makes this symbol so powerful is that we have the capacity to recall two moments in history simultaneously:
The word “Pesach” is literally the name of this sacrifice, which was done in memory of the one performed in Egypt on the night of the 10th plague when they put animal blood on the doorposts The Torah commandment to consume the offering on the Passover holiday comes from Exodus 12:8: “They shall eat the flesh that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs.” and then in verse 14: “This day shall be to you one of remembrance: you shall celebrate it as a festival…” (See Exodus 12:3-14 for the full section).
In Temple times, there were many key rituals regarding a sacrificed lamb or goat shared amongst family. In Exodus 12:3 we read “שֶׂ֥ה לַבָּֽיִת - a lamb per household.” One could not observe this ritual one their own - usually, families would combine with neighbors to afford a high quality lamb to share on the holiday.
Shulchan oreich שלחן עורך – lit. "set table"—the serving of the holiday meal
Many seder meals begin with a spherical object, such as an egg, gefilte fish, or matza ball. Take a moment to examine this round food item, with no beginning and no ending. You have made it to the midpoint of the seder; and yet, this round item reminds us there is no beginning and no end. We are fully redeemed and we are still waiting to be redeemed. Turn over the item again, then bring it to your mouth for the first bite.
Tzafun צפון – eating of the afikoman
Walking meditation: And opportunity to get out our seats and wander. Perform the search in silence. Take your steps slowly and carefully. Extra credit if you have time: as you walk, say to yourself “lifting, stepping, placing” for each movement of each foot.
Bareich ברך – blessing after the meal and drinking of the third cup of wine
Gratitude opportunity: Before or after saying the blessing after the meal, share one aspect of tonight’s seder that you are grateful for in this moment.
Hallel הלל – recital of the Hallel & drinking of the fourth cup of wine
Praise and song with nature: As we sing hallel and enjoy our 4th cup, imagine one sign of spring such as a tree bud or flower. Close your eyes and picture it celebrating the unfolding of warmth and light that comes with the new season.
Nirtzah נירצה – say "Next Year in Jerusalem!"
Turn to someone next to you or share with the entire group farewell blessings for their journey home or a sweet night’s rest.
We sit down for our seders this year at a powerful cultural moment when the voices of women and girls are rising – the collective activism of #metoo, Emma Gonzales’s six minutes of silence and 11-year-old African American Naomi Wadler’s speech at the March for Our Lives, and even the truth telling of Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels.
All this makes the absence of women’s voices in the Passover Haggadah more glaring. Thirty years ago, feminists began adding Miriam and the midwives to our seders. This year, to address the #metoo movement and our societal need for deep reckoning around gender, sexuality, and power, it is time to take a step further.
I propose that we do so by adding mirrors to our seder plates this year.
Before proceeding, a warning. The Rabbinic midrash that introduces the role of women’s mirrors in the Exodus imagines a past peopled only by heterosexual married couples. It ends with the birth of many, many children, as if there were only one ultimate path for women to contribute to the Jewish future. This is enough to keep some of us away. But I think that there is something about the significance of the mirror in this story that we all need to pay attention to.
Mirrors to Awaken and Embolden
Midrash Tanchuma describes how the Israelite women defied Pharaoh’s decree prohibiting sexual relations. The women made picnics in the fields for their labor-weary partners and then led them in playful flirtation.
As translated by Aviva Zornberg, “The women would take mirrors and look into them with their husbands. A woman would say, ‘I am more beautiful than you,’ and then he would say, ‘I am more beautiful than you.’ As a result they would accustom themselves to desire and they were fruitful and multiplied.”
Notice the steps here: the women take the lead, they are playful, they begin by seeing themselves as desirable – and with these crucial elements develop positive intimacy.
The mirror is a tool these women use to not only affirm their inherent self-worth but to educate and awaken men to their own inherent self-worth so that they can meet as equals.
I hope the story about the righteous women of Exodus will be a powerful source of inspiration for girls and women who are in the process of claiming their right to have and to express desire of all kinds. Those who walk in the world as men and boys can also learn from these ancient mirrors. Boys and men need mirrors that show them a vision different from what media and society encourage them to see. Rather than a distorted, oversized sense of themselves or a projected masculinity dependent on dominating women and less powerful men, boys need mirrors to help them see who they really are and can be — as human beings in need of love and validation, play, respect, boundaries, and freedom. I hope they will take from this story the heritage of sharing the lead more often, in all arenas of their lives as a surprisingly liberating pathway to their own freedom as boys and men.
My hope is that transgender and non-binary teens will also find ways to use these ancient mirrors to recognize their own beauty and to have the sharing of their self-knowledge be greeted by parents, peers, and the larger community with appreciation for the diversity of human gender as a wondrous expression of what it means to be free.
Mirrors Help Teens Resist
I have seen teens receive such “mirrors” through the work of Moving Traditions, where teens of all genders come to appreciate their own multi-faceted beauty, see one another as subjects, and resist the tyranny of gender norms and scripts that get in the way of their forming healthy relationships, connections, and expressions of their emerging sexuality.
This year I will put mirrors on my Seder table. I will tell the midrash making changes in my telling to add friends in the fields and couples of various genders. I will use the mirrors to playfully challenge the kids at our table to think more broadly about how they see themselves – beyond their physical selves. I will talk with them about how beautiful they are when they allow themselves to be themselves. The adults at the table will share stories of our journeys to free ourselves from gender norms and scripts, stories of how we came to learn that love and desire grow from positive self-love and from mutuality and equality.
This is a year for every seder to take a step toward becoming more feminist. Because, as bell hooks writes, “A genuine feminist politics always brings us from bondage to freedom, from lovelessness to loving.” Because “dayenu, v’lo dayennu,” the changes we have witnessed and been part of this year are powerful steps on the journey, but not yet enough.
Rabbi Tamara R. Cohen is the Chief of Innovation at Moving Traditions. She is also the editor of the Ma’yan Haggadah available at ritualwell.org.
This year, Jewish World Watch suggests creating a Second Seder Plate for your table, to help you identify with the realities of the tragic present being experienced by so many people today in JWW’s areas of focus. About a third of those fleeing genocide and mass atrocities today live as refugees under dire conditions outside their native countries.
You can adapt your Second Seder Plate to reflect your own concerns. The one we have created contains new symbols for age-old problems – and in some cases offers some modern solutions – focused on the vulnerable populations Jewish World Watch serves across the globe.
We hope your Second Seder Plate will inspire new conversations at your seder and encourage everyone around the table to take action to help those in need. Chag sameach.
To download full-color PDF copies of this guide, please visit jww.org/SederSederPlate. And please don't forget to share: #SecondSederPlate
Why is a tomato on our Second Seder Plate?
The tomato reminds us that everyone needs food to survive, but displaced people often don’t get sufficient rations. Creating a garden, however, is possible, even in an African refugee camp. No space? No water? No seeds or good soil? No problem. You can grow a lot with limited resources thanks to perma-gardening, a highly efficient farming system that allows refugees to grow nutritious crops year-round by using improved soil fertilization methods and wastewater.
FACT: More than 300,000 Darfuris currently live in refugee camps in eastern Chad, their home since fleeing the genocide that began in 2003. The food rations they receive are not enough to live on.
ACT: Through perma-gardening, Darfuri refugees can produce their own food and become more self-reliant. Donate to help Jewish World Watch provide a refugee family with the skills and tools to start a perma-garden.
DISCUSS: How can you create your own efficient garden?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s perma-gardening efforts at jww.org/perma-gardening
Why is a glass of water on our Second Seder Plate?
Unlike the salt water on our traditional seder plate, which symbolizes our enslaved ancestors’ bitter tears, this water represents a source of hope. Fresh water is in short supply in the refugee settlements housing survivors who fled atrocities in South Sudan, but drilling new wells can provide clean water.
FACT: More than 2 million South Sudanese have fled civil war and man-made famine. Many have settled in overcrowded camps in northern Uganda, where there is deplorable sanitation and not enough safe water.
ACT: Jewish World Watch is drilling eight essential wells in Uganda’s Palabek Refugee Settlement this year. With your support we can supply even more clean water for thousands of refugees.
DISCUSS: List all the ways that you could save water on a daily basis.
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s efforts to drill borehole wells at jww.org/cleanwater
Why is a cell phone on our Second Seder Plate?
On most nights, we use our phones to talk, text and check social media, but on this night we turn them off. This phone reminds us of the conflict minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where children are often forced to work under unsafe conditions.
FACT: The mining of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and other minerals such as cobalt often supports armed groups in the Congo, and impoverished children are often the ones doing the mining to support their families. Sending Congolese children to school is the best way to keep them from working in the mines, but they need help covering school fees and other related expenses to get an education.
ACT: Research products before you buy them – your cell phone, your hybrid car and more – to make sure the company you’re buying from is making the best effort to responsibly source its materials. Keep children out of mines by helping Jewish World Watch pay for their school fees.
DISCUSS: How do your decisions about what to buy affect others?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s efforts to ensure the conflict-free status of mines in the Congo a jww.org/conflictminerals
Why are matches on our Second Seder Plate?
Fire isn’t one of the plagues in the Passover story, but it could have been – its destructive nature is well known. For the Rohingya, an ethnic minority living in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), the military has used fire to destroy many villages in brutal attacks. Survivors urgently need emergency supplies, but the Rohingya also need U.S. lawmakers to pass legislation to help protect them and prevent further violence.
FACT: Since late August, more than 688,000 Rohingya have fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and crossed into neighboring Bangladesh, where they have created the world’s largest refugee settlements.
ACT: Ask your representatives to support bills currently being considered in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives supporting human rights in Myanmar.
DISCUSS: How is it possible that genocide is still happening in the 21st century?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s advocacy efforts and send a letter to your representatives at action.jww.org
Why is a toy on our Second Seder Plate?
A disturbing number of today’s refugees are children. Across the globe, nearly 1 child in 200 is a refugee. This adds up to tens of millions of children displaced by violence, poverty and other factors. Whole generations are being born in refugee camps, where they often lack proper nutrition, education and opportunities to play.
FACT: Some 8.6 million Syrian children are in immediate need of aid. Some 2.6 million Syrian children are living as refugees or on the run. Of the more than 688,000 Rohingya who have fled Myanmar for camps in Bangladesh since August, nearly 400,000 are children.
ACT: Support Jewish World Watch’s many programs offering educational assistance to children and the schools that serve them.
DISCUSS: How do you think violence and displacement affect children?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s efforts to educate displaced children at jww.org/projects
Why is a bandage on our Second Seder Plate?
Too many innocent people wounded during Syria’s civil war lack life-saving medical aid because large humanitarian organizations cannot enter areas being actively bombed. Jewish World Watch has partnered with an organization that transports essential supplies directly to doctors working to save lives deep inside the heart of the conflict.
FACT: Syria’s civil war has killed nearly 500,000 people – 55,000 of them children. It has also left half of the country’s population displaced.
ACT: Support Jewish World Watch’s efforts to transport supplies to doctors and hospitals in the heart of the conflict.
DISCUSS: What would it be like to be wounded and without adequate medical supplies?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s medical shipments in Syria at jww.org/syria
In our Jewish Mexican family, we honor more than just the struggle of our ancestors journey from mitsrayim to liberdad but also the gifts they gave us and the tools to survive any conditions and to always make it delicious.
We have a Chile on our seder plate to honor the abuelas, the bisabuelas, the chignonas, the curandras, and other femme Moshes, Miriams, Tziporahs and Aarons in our lives who taught us who we are, how to be, integridad (integrity) and did it all while raising families, working for opportunity, embodying hod (humility,) crying, embracing, celebrating, kicking ass and declaring "Huelga!" in the face of oppression.
1. Color and cut out seder plate and the pieces on the second page.
2. Place glue or tape on the plate, over the spots with letters and attach the corresponding pieces.
3. Teach everyone what you know at the Seder! Happy Passover!
Download the PDF version here from Stellar Nova: https://goo.gl/AKoeMB
For the Passover Seder, the ancient Rabbis for many years debated whether to drink four Cups of Liberation or five. They finally decided to prepare a fifth cup but set it aside, waiting for Elijah the Prophet to come to herald the Great Turning-point of history. Elijah would decide whether we should drink the fifth cup.
So we will drink four cups of wine or grape juice, dedicating these four cups to facing the deadly triplets Dr. King named (Racism, Materialism, and Militarism), and one more: Sexism.
Our four cups will address (1) Racial and Economic Justice and Justice for Workers and Organized Labor, (2) Hyper-materialism, devastating Mother Earth for the sake of corporate profit; (3) Militarism abroad and at home; and (4) Sexism.
We will also lift up the vision of a transformed society. We will drink a fifth cup, the Cup of Elijah, dedicating the cup and ourselves to taking action to bring nearer Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community.
[We kindle candles to light up the path of the Seder and our lives All say together:]
We are the generation
That lives between the fires.
Behind us is the flame and smoke
From Black and blackened bodies
Burned and hanging from a myriad lynching trees,
And the flames of burning crosses lit by hate
To choke our people in the smoke of terror;
Behind us is the flame and smoke that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima,
From the burning forests of the Amazon,
From the glare of gun fire exploding in our children.
From the hottest years of human history that bring upon us
Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.
Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.
Before us is the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.
Lit by the deadly triplets named by the Prophet Martin:
Racism, hyper-materialism, militarism:
The scorching of our planet
From a flood of burning fossils,
Or the blazing of our cities
In thermonuclear fire.
It is our task to make from fire
Not an all-consuming blaze
But the light in which we see each other—
Each of us different,
All of us made in One Image, glowing with One Spark.
[Kindling the candles of commitment:]
We light this fire to see more clearly
That the earth, the human race, are not for burning.
We light this fire to see more clearly
The rainbow in our many-colored faces.
Blessed are the Many in the One;
Blessed is the One within the Many.
Blessed are you, Yahh our God, Creative Interbreathing Spirit of the Universe, who makes us holy through connections with each other, and connects us through the kindling of these candles so that we may light up the path toward peace and freedom, justice and healing, for all peoples and our planet.
Blessed are You, Creative Interbreathing Spirit of the world, who fills us with life, lifts us up, and carries us to this moment.
[We take into ourselves the foods and meanings of the Seder.]
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.
Jewish celebrations usually include wine as a symbol of joy.
Wine sanctifies an occasion and makes it holy.
During the Passover Seder we drink four cups of wine, why four?
In the Book of Exodus, God convinced the Jews to leave Egypt using four statements:
I shall take you out
I shall rescue you
I shall redeem you
I shall bring you
We toast each of these statements with a cup of wine.
Pour and raise your first cup of wine/grape juice. This cup is dedicated to the renewal of spring, to the renewal of ourselves.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Drink your first cup of wine/grape juice!
We begin with the teaching of Dr. Martin Luther King 50 years ago, on the evening before his death. He came to Memphis, Tennessee to support the striking sanitation workers of the city, and he spoke to a gathered crowd:
“The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. One thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike. Now we're going to march again, and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”
This oppression of workers is nothing new. It is at the heart of the story of Pharaoh and the Exodus, 3,000 years ago:
“Now a new king arose over Mitzrayim, the Tight and Narrow Space [Egypt]. He said to his people, ‘Here, this people, the Godwrestling folk, the children of Israel, is many more than we and might make war against us. Come now, let us use our wits against it. So the Tight and Narrow Place made the Godwrestlers subservient with crushing-labor; they embittered their lives with hard servitude in clay and in bricks and with all kinds of servitude in the field, all their serfdom in which they made them subservient with crushing-labor. (Exodus 1: 13-14 )
And so all of us remember and taste within ourselves the bitterness of slavery and the oppression of workers.
[Everyone takes a piece of raw horseradish.]
All join to say: “Blessed are You, Creative Interbreathing Spirit of the Universe, Who brings forth the fruit of the earth—the bitter and the sweet.”
[Eat a chunk of horseradish.]
[The community sings “Go Down Moses,” African-American spiritual.]
When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go; Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go; Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
The pillar of cloud shall clear the way, Let My people go; A fire by night, a shade by day, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
As Israel stood by the water-side, Let My people go; At God’s command it did divide, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
When they had reached the other shore, Let My people go; They sang the song of freedom o’er, Let My people go. Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land, Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
Oh, set all Earth from bondage free, Let all My peoples go; And let all life be free to Be, Let air and water flow. Go down, Moses, way down in every land, Tell ALL Pharaohs: Let My creation grow
And in our generation?
“I met with many people barely surviving on Skid Row in Los Angeles, I witnessed a San Francisco police officer telling a group of homeless people to move on but having no answer when asked where they could move to, I heard how thousands of poor people get minor infraction notices which seem to be intentionally designed to quickly explode into unpayable debt, incarceration, and the replenishment of municipal coffers, I saw sewage-filled yards in states where governments don’t consider sanitation facilities to be their responsibility, I saw people who had lost all of their teeth because adult dental care is not covered by the vast majority of programs available to the very poor, I heard about soaring death rates and family and community destruction wrought by opioids, and I met with people in Puerto Rico living next to a mountain of completely unprotected coal ash which rains down upon them, bringing illness, disability and death.”
- Philip Alston, United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights
[Everyone gets “sheet” of matzah. Someone reads:]
“Why do we eat this pressed-down bread?“ Because it begins as the bread of affliction, the bread of a pressed-down people—but becomes the bread of Freedom when we hasten toward Resistance. Hasten to bake it without time for the bread to rise, For then we lived and now we live, as Dr. King taught, in the “fierce urgency of NOW!”—swiftly moving toward our liberation.”
[Each person breaks the matzah and hands one piece to a neighbor.]
“Why do we break and share the matzah?”
“Because if we do not share it, it remains the bread of affliction; when we share it, it becomes the bread of freedom.”
Together say: “Blessed are You, Breathing-Spirit of the world, who through sun and soil, seed and human sweat, brings forth this bread from the Earth.”
[All eat the matzah given them by someone else.]
Leader: Women in biblical times to modern day have been subject to harsh standards, subordination, and violence. Yet it is in the waters that Miriam and Batya nd empowerment, the ability to purify their minds of old pains and memories. Tonight, not only do we clean our hands, but we also cleanse our spirits, following the steps left by these two women. In facing the dark truth of dismissed oppressions, Urchatz is a chance to take a mental pause in order to refresh before delving into a reality of discomfort and tragedy.
We read together: Water flows.
Leader: It is the current of the Nile, carrying a young Moses from the hands of his sister Miriam to those of Batya, Pharaoh's daughter. The two face opposite directions—one the enslaved and the other the enslaver—yet they stand together, connected by this omnipresent stream.
Together: Water cleanses.
Leader: The wounds of labor and fear, expectation and hard- ship are washed away in the Nile. Miriam is no longer only a sister; Batya is no longer simply a daughter. They are women of action, transgressing the decrees of patriarchy.
Together: Water revives.
Leader: Immersed in the essential simplicity of clear water, we, too, emerge with strength and renewal. From our palms and through our ngertips ow the waters of ancient Egypt; we are reminded that a world of equality cannot yet be held. It will take the hands of many to sustain.
Together: One day, the sacred waters of our ancestors— powerful, brave, pulsing—will wash over the oppressions of the world.
Pass a pitcher and a bowl of water around the table, o ering to wash the hands of a guest next to you. Remember to ask for consent. In Aramaic, the sister language of Hebrew, “urchatz” translates to “trust.” Establishing trust through consent is an integral part of crea ng a stronger community.
And I started thinking about unpredictability as it relates to Passover. In times of Egyptian slavery, life was predictable: each day as a slave is the same because you have no choices to make. No one would have predicted that Prince Moses would have killed an Egyptian taskmaster for oppressing a slave, forcing Moses to flee. No one would have predicted that Moses would return to Egypt to demand freedom from his people because a burning bush told him to. Every one of the ten plagues subverted predictions and expectations. And water, too behaves unpredictably: the Nile turns to blood, and the Red Sea - chaotically and unpredictably - parts.
In our Seder, we have one hand washing without a blessing, and one with a blessing. As we know from movies and from life, sometimes droplets run in one direction, and sometimes in the other. And when we encounter something unpredictable, it helps to know that it's part of a larger context, whether you call it a narrative, a belief system, a theory or a Seder.
As we prepare to wash our hands, we must remember that...many in the United States and around the world do not have access to clean water. Clean water is not a privilege; it is a basic human right. One in ten people currently lack access to clean water. That’s nearly 1 billion people in the world without clean, safe drinking water. Almost 3.5 million people die every year because of inadequate water supply.
We symbolize the uplifting of cleansed hands by raising hands into the air.
[Greens held up for all to see.]
KARPAS - Parsley and celery are symbols of all kinds of spring greenery. The second time, the salt water and the green can help us to remember the ocean and green plants and the Earth, from which we get the water and air and food that enable us to live.
Leader: N'-varekh `et pri ha-`Adamah.
Let us bless the fruit of the Earth.
[Please dip your parsley into salt water two times and eat it.]
A small piece of onion, parsley, or boiled potato is dipped into saltwater and eaten (after reciting the blessing over vegetables). Dipping the karpas is a sign of luxury and freedom. The saltwater represents the tears of our ancestors in Mitzrayim. This year may it also represent tears of Black parents and families mourning the loss of their Black youth at the hands of police brutality.
Our God and God of our ancestors, help those who are fleeing persecution today, as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Show loving kindness and compassion to those hemmed in by misery and captivity, to those who take to the open seas or traverse treacherous landscapes seeking freedom and liberty. Rescue and recover them -- deliver them from gorge to meadow, from darkness to light. Inspire us to act on behalf of those we do not know, on behalf of those we may never meet because we know the heart of the stranger. We, too, ate the bread of affliction whose taste still lingers. And so, dear God inspire us to pursue righteousness for those who seek the freedom we enjoy tonight. Do it speedily and in our days, and let us say: Amen.
Jews are a people of memory and action. On Passover, we use stories and rituals to remember and retell the narrative of our collective liberation. We share the ancient Exodus story, year after year, so that it resonates through the generations as a narrative of deliverance from slavery to freedom. In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayim, which means “a narrow place.” Every year, the Haggadah asks us not only to share the story of the Exodus, but challenges us to actively engage in the process of combating oppression. We are encouraged to connect the biblical story of Exodus to communal and individual struggles for liberation, and are reminded that the fight for freedom is ongoing.
Let’s discuss the process of Exodus, moving from “a narrow place” to a place of freedom. Every day, people fight for freedom on interpersonal, systemic, global and local levels. What are modern struggles for liberation? Discuss the following questions either in pairs or as a group to inspire thought, conversation and action:
Why do you think the text starts with “We were slaves” instead of “Our ancestors were slaves?” How does this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. "no one is free until we are all free," connect to Avadim Hayinu? How are we free today? How are we still struggling? Share something that you are doing or can commit to doing to help move yourself or others from “a narrow place” to a place of shared freedom.
Can we be humble enough to admit when we do not know something, rather than pretending to have the answer? Can we be gracious enough to answer another’s question without shaming them for not knowing? Can we be brave enough to inquire within, and ask ourselves our own hard questions? Can we open our hearts to the love that wants to come in, if only we will release our clever defenses?
To be read following the chanting of the Four Questions.
1. The Torah demands, “Justice, justice shall you pursue!” (Deut 16:20). What are the obstacles to fulfilling this commandment in the context of criminal justice?
2. The Sage Hillel taught: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow” (BT Shabbat 31a). At the heart of our Passover story is the remembrance of being slaves in Egypt. How do we internalize this narrative of “imprisonment” and express it in our own public lives?
3. In Genesis we read that God created human beings, “b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image.” How does institutionalized racism undermine this teaching? Do you feel obliged to assign this teaching to all human beings, including those who have committed heinous crimes?
4. The Talmud teaches, “The person who destroys one life, it is as though that person has destroyed the whole world; and the person who saves one life, it is as though that person has saved the whole world” (JT Sanhedrin 4:1). It is naive to overlook the societal necessity of a working criminal justice system. Imagine a criminal justice system that fulfills the supreme Jewish value of saving lives: What does it “look like”?
The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The tradition is that the youngest person asks the questions because it re ects the centrality of involving everyone in the Seder. The rabbis who created the set format for the Seder gave us the Four Questions to help break the ice in case no one had their own questions. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life. We would like to o er some questions of our own regarding the perpetuation of rape culture in the Jewish community. But this is just a jumping o point! What questions about rape culture are you curious about tonight?
1st Question: Why is rape culture hard to recognize sometimes?
Why is it such a normalized part of our culture? Why don’t people fully understand it? How can we change this?
Why does it sometimes feel like the Jewish community is absent or uninterested in addressing it?
2nd Question: Why do the media and pop culture continue to perpetuate the hyper-sexualization of women, the physical dominance of men, and invisiblize people who have non-binary genders?
What are the negative stereotypes that the media perpetuate, and what are their consequences?
What are examples of songs, ads, or other media that hypersexualize or invisiblize people based on gender?
How are young people particularly impacted by these negative messages?
3rd Question: Why, on this night, have we put bitter chocolate on the table?
What other foods might you choose to represent rape culture in this ritual? Why?
4th Question: How is this conversation about rape culture relevant to me?
How have I been implicated or impacted by rape culture?
What can I do to hold others in my life more accountable?
Tonight, let’s speak about four people striving to engage in racial justice. They are a complicated constellation of identity and experience; they are not simply good or bad, guileless or silent. They are Jews of Color and white Jews. They are Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi; they are youth, middle-aged, and elders. They are a variety of people who are at different stages of their racial justice journey. Some of them have been on this journey for their entire lives, and for some, today is the first day. Some of them are a part of us, and others are quite unfamiliar.
What do they say? They ask questions about engaging with racial justice as people with a vested interest in Jewishness and Jewish community. How do we answer? We call them in with compassion, learning from those who came before us.
WHAT DOES A QUESTIONER SAY?
“I support equality, but the tactics and strategies used by current racial justice movements make me uncomfortable.”
Time and time again during the journey through the desert, the Israelites had to trust Moses and God’s vision of a more just future that the Israelites could not see themselves. As they wandered through the desert, eager to reach the Promised Land, they remained anxious about each step on their shared journey. They argued that there must be an easier way, a better leader, and a better God. They grumbled to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 16:3, “If only we had died by the hand of God in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the cooking pot, when we ate our fill of bread! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to starve this whole community to death.” Despite their deep misgivings, they continued onward.
As we learn in our Passover retelling, the journey toward liberation and equity can be difficult to map out. In the midst of our work, there are times when we struggle to truly identify our own promised land. We see this challenge in various movements, whether for civil rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, workers’ rights, and others. In our retelling of these struggles for justice, we often erase conflicts of leadership, strategy debates, or even the strong contemporaneous opposition to their successes. Only when we study these movements in depth do we appreciate that all pushes for progress and liberation endure similar struggles, indecision, and pushback.
WHAT DOES A NEWCOMER SAY?
“How do I reach out and engage with marginalized communities in an authentic and sustained way?”
We tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt year after year; it is a story not only about slavery and freedom, but also a story of transition. At its core, the Passover story is about the process of moving from oppression to liberation. It informs us that liberation is not easy or fast, but a process of engagement and relationship building.
As the Israelites wandered in the desert, they developed systems of accountability and leadership. Every person contributed what they could given their skills, passions, and capacity to create the mishkan, the Israelites’ spiritual sanctuary in the desert. As it says in Exodus 35:29, “[T]he Israelites, all the men and women whose hearts moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD, through Moses, had commanded to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.”
Those of us engaging or looking to engage in racial justice work can learn from that example. We need to show up, and keep showing up. We can spend time going to community meetings, trainings, marches, protests, and other actions while practicing active listening and self-education. Only by each person exploring their own privileges and oppressions, whatever they may be, can we show up fully and thoughtfully in this racial justice work.
WHAT DOES A JEW OF COLOR SAY?
“What if I have other interests? Am I obligated to make racial justice my only priority?”
The work of racial justice is not only for People of Color; it is something everyone must be engaged in. Most Jews of Color are happy to be engaged in racial justice, whether professionally, personally, or a mix of both. However, we nd too often the burden of the work falls on our shoulders. The work of racial justice cannot only fall to Jews of Color.
Instead, all Jews who are engaged in tikkun olam, repairing the world, should be engaged in the work of racial justice. Following the leadership of Jews of Color, white Jews must recognize their own personal interest in fighting to dismantle racist systems. When white Jews commit to racial justice work, it better allows Jews of Color to take time for self-care by stepping away from the work or focusing on a different issue. As Rabbi Tarfon writes in Pirke Avot 2:21, “It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.”
WHAT DOES AN AVOIDER SAY?
“I am so scared of being called a racist, I don’t want to engage in any conversations about race.”
Engaging in conversations about difficult and personal subjects takes time and practice. When Joseph first began having prophetic dreams as a young man, he insensitively told his brothers that despite his youth, they would eventually bow down to him. In Genesis 37:8, Joseph’s brothers respond by asking, ‘“Do you mean to rule over us?” And they hated him even more for his talk about his dreams.’ However, as he matured, his dreams became his method of survival. As Joseph learned how to share his dreams with people in power, he was able to reunite with his family and create a period of incredible prosperity in Egypt.
We will make mistakes when engaging in racial justice. It is part of the process. Engaging in racial justice conversations can be painful and uncomfortable; it is also absolutely essential. We must raise up the dignity and complexity in others that we see in ourselves and our loved ones. Empathy for people of different backgrounds, cultures, religions, and races moves us to have these difficult conversations. Compassion for ourselves allows us to keep engaging through any guilt or discomfort.
Download the Full PDF Here: http://rpr.world/the-four-people
It is a tradition at the Seder to include a section entitled “the Four Children.” We have turned it upside down, to remind us that as adults we have a lot to learn from youth. From the U.S. to South Africa to Palestine, young people have been, and are, at the forefront of most of the social justice movements on this planet. If there is a mix of ages of people at your seder, perhaps some of the older people would like to practice asking questions, and the younger folks would like to respond:
The Angry Adult – Violent and oppressive things are happening to me, the people I love and people I don’t even know. Why can’t we make the people in power hurt the way we are all hurting? Hatred and violence can never overcome hatred and violence. Only love and compassion can transform our world.
Cambodian Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda, whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge, has written: It is a law of the universe that retaliation, hatred, and revenge only continue the cycle and never stop it. Reconciliation does not mean that we surrender rights and conditions, but means rather that we use love in all our negotiations. It means that we see ourselves in the opponent -- for what is the opponent but a being in ignorance, and we ourselves are also ignorant of many things. Therefore, only loving kindness and right-mindfulness can free us.
The Ashamed Adult – I’m so ashamed of what my people are doing that I have no way of dealing with it?!? We must acknowledge our feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment, while ultimately using the fire of injustice to fuel us in working for change. We must also remember the amazing people in all cultures, who are working to dismantle oppression together everyday.
Marianne Williamson said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually who are you not to be? You are a child of G-d. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of G-d that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
The Fearful Adult – Why should I care about ‘those people’ when they don’t care about me? If I share what I have, there won’t be enough and I will end up suffering. We must challenge the sense of scarcity that we have learned from capitalism and our histories of oppression. If we change the way food, housing, education, and resources are distributed, we could all have enough.
Martin Luther King said: It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
The Compassionate Adult – How can I struggle for justice with an open heart? How can we live in a way that builds the world we want to live in, without losing hope? This is the question that we answer with our lives.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote: Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy. And yet being alive is no answer to the problems of living. To be or not to be is not the question. The vital question is: how to be and how not to be…to pray is to recollect passionately the perpetual urgency of this vital question.
Anne Frank wrote: It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all of my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too; I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end and that peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out."
Each of us bears in our own belly the angry one, the ashamed one, the frightened one, the compassionate one. Which of these children shall we bring to birth? Only if we can deeply hear all four of them can we truthfully answer the fourth question. Only if we can deeply hear all four of them can we bring to birth a child, a people that is truly wise.
Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah.
The most devastating effect of slavery, ultimately, is that the slave internalizes the master's values and accepts the condition of slavery as his proper status. People who live in chronic conditions of poverty, hunger, and sickness tend to show similar patterns of acceptance and passivity. As with slaves,their deprivation deprives from their political and economic status and then becomes moral and psychological reality. It is this reality that was overthrown in the Exodus.—Irving Greenberg
We got used to standing in line at seven o'clock in the morning, at twelve noon, and again at seven o'clock in the evening. We stood in a long queue with a plate in our hand into which they ladled a little warmed-up water with a salty or a coffee flavor. Or else they gave us a few potatoes. We got used to sleeping without a bed, to saluting every uniform, not to walk on the sidewalks, and then again to walk on the sidewalks. We got used to undeserved slaps, blows, and executions. We got accustomed to seeing piled up coffins full of corpses, to seeing the sick amidst dirt and filth, and to seeing the helpless doctors. We got used to the fact that from time to time one thousand unhappy souls would come here, and that from time to time, another thousand unhappy souls would go away.—Peter Fischel, age 15, perished at Auschwitz, 1944
This is what every Seder is about. Celebration of freedom, expressing reverence, appreciation, and confronting who we were and who we have become.
As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them to signify having a little less sweetness in our celebration. Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.
These are the ten plagues:
BLOOD / dam
FROGS / tzfardeiya
LICE / kinim
BEASTS / arov
CATTLE DISEASE / dever
BOILS / sh’chin
HAIL / barad
LOCUSTS / arbeh
DARKNESS / choshech
DEATH OF THE FIRSTBORN / makat b’chorot
Even though we are happy that the jews escaped slavery, let us once more take a drop of wine as we together recite the names of these modern plagues:
POLLUTION OF THE EARTH
INDIFFERENCE TO SUFFERING
had you-i been given but seconds
in this unreal reality,
and the ten-thousand things not made themselves
known to me-you, daiyenu,
had the ten-thousand things made themselves
known to me-you, and your-my blood not thudded
circuitously, stubbornly, daiyenu,
had your-my blood thudded
and these atoms not stayed gathered
into matter as me-you, daiyenu,
had these atoms stayed gathered into matter
as me-you, and you-i not been born
earthly entity, daiyenu,
had you-i been born earthly entity, and these lungs
not breathed me-you, daiyenu,
had these lungs breathed me-you,
and you-i not strengthened
from struggling, daiyenu,
had you-i strengthened from struggling, and the
time-space web not caught me-you, daiyenu,
had the time-space web caught me-you,
and you-i not made manifest
believed-in possibility, daiyenu,
had you-i made manifest
believed-in possibility, and never felt faith
inside me-you, daiyenu,
had you-i felt faith inside me-you,
and not lost ego-identity, daiyenu,
had you-i lost ego-identity, and not detached from a
conceptually separate me-you, daiyenu,
had you-i detached from a
conceptually separate me-you,
and never found inner tranquility, daiyenu,
had you-i found inner tranquility, and never let
angel-death tongue-kiss me-you, daiyenu,
had you-i let angel-death tongue-kiss me-you, and
not answered with reciprocity, daiyenu,
had you-i answered with reciprocity,
and not still vibrated energy for eternity,
had you-i been given but seconds in this unreal
reality, had it all been arbitrary,
had it all been but a word,
DAYENU: THE PATH OF MANY STEPS TOWARD FREEDOM
What are the Ten Healings that can begin to make our world a Beloved Community?
[For each of the Ten Healings, we drink some wine or grape-juice and then say L’Chaim!—To Life!]
Create organic farms in countrysides and cities.
Purchase home and company electric power from wind-based suppliers.
Families buy hybrid or electric cars; convince cities, government agencies, and businesses to switch their auto fleets.
Use public transportation.
Families and congregations, at Bat/Bar Mitzvah time and teen-age confirmations, study together how to address the climate crisis so as to “turn the hearts of children and parents to each other, lest the Earth be utterly destroyed.” (From last passage of Malachi, last of the classical Hebrew Prophets)
Move Our Money, Protect Our Planet (MOM/POP) : Colleges, congregations, pension funds, and others shift their investments from fossil-fuel companies to renewable, sustainable energy.
Vigil, picket, do civil disobedience at sites of mountaintop destruction by coal companies.
End fracking: Insist on moratoriums or prohibitions.
Lobby Congress for laws to put prices on carbon-fuel production and pay dividends from the incoming fees to American families.
Organize neighborhood solar-energy coops where many households band together to stop burning coal for their electricity and generate it from the sun instead.
Research and choose among proposals not only to end CO2 and methane emissions that are scorching our planet, but restoring for our children and grandchildren the healthy climate that our parents and grandparents lived in, amidst more justice than most of our forebears knew
Expand your sense of the possible.
Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
10 of the 25 "Principles of Adult Behavior" , by John Perry Barlow.
--Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִּם.
Blessed are You ETERNAL our God, Master of time and space, who has sanctified us with commandments and instructed us regarding lifting up our hands.
A: A matzochist.
For those of you who want to experience baking matzot on the run! 1. upcycle an old television dish- add shoulder straps2. cover dish with lots of foil3. hang black pot with dough at just the right angel4. head out to your nearest desert at high noon!should take about an hour goes great with charoset!
A simple piece of Matzah serves to remind us of the immense suffering of ancient slavery. Now we take into account a second item, bitter chocolate, to remind us of modern suffering. One might question how chocolate is representative of hardship, for its purpose is to satisfy one’s pleasures, to be eaten in times of love and craving. Simply put, it is expected to be sweet, but when it is not, the unwanted chocolate is automatically dismissed and rejected. The expectations of chocolate is to be sweet and readily available for one’s satisfaction. Victims/survivors of rape culture can be seen in a similar light. A prize to be won by the hands of a pursuer, it softens, melts, drip, drip, drip. Their dignity mutilated down the wrist, almost ink, slowly hardening to etch su ering like blood. No longer a clean-cut square, the chocolate is transformed into a desired shape, sugar stu ed in to make it what it is not. Today, we embrace chocolate in its plain form, celebrating not its bitterness, but its strength.
Everyone at the table should eat a piece of bitter chocolate and consider quietly the ways in which they feel pressured to take shapes that aren’t natural to them.
Our eating of maror and talking about slavery might [...] carry with it a lesson about the negative power of shame. I don’t like sharing my stories of pain or difficulty. They often feel like stories of failure. It often feels like my pain is a result of my inadequacy in managing my life or lack of success. If I were a better person, more capable, wiser, more powerful, my story would be all about happiness. Sadness becomes associated with failure. By including the pain and humiliation in our national story of birth and redemption we are reminding ourselves that pain, sadness, and difficulty are part of everyone’s story. I don’t need to paper over it or pretend it’s not there. My challenge is to include fully the hard parts of my story, both individually and nationally, and still feel joy and gratitude. Our plates include bitter herbs right next to the matza and the wine. --Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield In a world where so much time is devoted to social media and our "personal branding", it can be difficult to be open about the bitterness in our lives. What are some of the bitter truths about our lives that we don't like to share with people? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Now take a kezayit (the volume of one olive) of the maror. Dip it into the Charoset, but not so much that the bitter taste is neutralized. Recite the following blessing and then eat the maror (without reclining): בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מָרוֹר. Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al achilat maror. Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has taught us the way of holiness through commandments, commanding us to eat the bitter herb.
Question: Why do Jews from Gibraltar sprinkle a little bit of brick dust into their charoset? Answer: To remind them of the bricks that the Israelite slaves were forced to make.
Question: What do Hungarian Jews place on the Seder table to represent the precious gifts given to the Israelites as they departed Egypt? Answer: Gold and Jewelry
Question: When they read the piece of the Haggadah that begins “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt” (In Hebrew “Avadim Hayinu”), Jews from this country take a pillowcase filled with heavy objects and carry it on their backs around the table. Answer: Syria
Question: Which symbol from the seder plate do the Kavkazi Jews of the Caucasus hide for the children to find instead of the matza? Answer: An Egg
Question: Why do many Middle Eastern Jewish families whip each other with scallions at the Seder table? Answer: To mimic the whips of slave drivers in Egypt.
Question: Because Moses floated in the river what item do many Jews of Tunisia decorate with a colored cloth in this, and place on the Seder table? Answer: A basket
Question: At Passover, the Abayudaya Jews of what country celebrate the anniversary of the overthrow of the brutal dictator Idi Amin, who outlawed the practice of Judaism? Answer: Uganda
Question: At the beginning of the Seder, what do Jews from Morocco pass above their heads three times while reciting "In haste we came out of Egypt”? Answer: A Seder Plate
Question: Tunisian Jews place a fish bowl with live fish swimming in it on the Passover table. Which part of the Exodus story does this commemorate? Answer: The crossing of the Red Sea
Question: What do Iraqi Jews tie to the back of a small child while telling them to guard it until end of the Seder? Answer: The Afikomen
Question: In which country is the Seder “interrupted” by a knock on the door by a member of the family dressed up as a nomad. The leader of the Seder asks: “Where are you coming from?” (Egypt) Where are you going?” (Jerusalem). Answer: Iraq
According to research done by Be’chol Lashon, 20% of American Jews identify as African American, Latinx, Asian, mixed race, Sephardi and Mizrahi. This year, join us as we celebrate Passover rituals from diverse Jewish communities and traditions.
Download the PDF place cards here: https://werepair.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Passover_Place_Cards.pdf
Join Dr. Mom as she plays with her (non)favorite Passover foods. Watch her blow up eggs, gefilte fish, and matzah balls, and make a fun mess!
Dr. Mom is has a PhD in organic chemistry, and is the co-founder of StellarNova, a STEM edutainment company that inspires kids to learn science in a fun & interactive way.
Learn more at www.stellarnova.co
There are three aspects to the growing militarization of America: (A) The military overseas, through great increases in military budgets and the longest war in American history; (B) The militarization of domestic U.S. police forces, especially those intended to deal with Black and Latino communities; and (C) the rising number of deaths by gunfire, including by weapons intended for war. Let us look at each:
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death” (MLK, April 4, 1967) (B) At home, Dr. King’s separate triplets of racism and militarism have melted into one. In Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, local police mobilized tanks and other weapons of war to address protests over a killing by police. (C) And hundreds of “civilians” bearing rifles, hand guns, and semi-automatic de facto machine guns are each year killing spouses, children, and themselves—in numbers unheard of in other affluent countries. Wikipedia reports these figures of firearm-related death rates per 100,000 population in one year: Japan, 0.06; United Kingdom, 0.23; Poland, 0.26; Australia, 0.93; Germany, 1.01; Sweden, 1.47; United States, 10.54.
What do these numbers look like in flesh and blood?
David Hogg, a 17-year-old student journalist who interviewed his classmates during the rampage in Parkland, said he had thought about the possibility of a school shooting long before shots from an AR-15 started to blast through the hallways. As he huddled with fellow students, he stayed calm and decided to try to create a record of their thoughts and views that would live on, even if the worst happened to them.
“I recorded those videos because I didn’t know if I was going to survive,” he said in an interview here. “But I knew that if those videos survived, they would echo on and tell the story. And that story would be one that would change things, I hoped. And that would be my legacy.” (New York Times, February 16, 2018)
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Al Señor que nos creó,
Por los bienes que nos dió.
Let us bless the One Most High,
The God who created us,
Let us give thanks
For the good things which God has given us.
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan primeramente,
Y por todos los manjares,
Que cumimos juntamente.
Pues cumimos y bebimos alegremente,
Su merced nunca nos faltó,
Let us bless the Most High,
First for the bread and then for all of the delicacies
Which we have eaten together-
for we ate and drank joyfully-
God’s mercy has never failed us.
Hodu la’Adonai ki tov,
ki le’olam chasdo.
Praise God, for God is good,
Whose mercy endures forever.
Bendicha sea la casa muestra,
Que nunca manque en ella fiesta,
Manañas, tardes, y siestas,
Para todo Israel.
Blessed be our house,
May it never lack celebration-
mornings, afternoons, and evenings-
for all of Israel.
Hodu la’Adonai ki tov,
ki le’olam chasdo.
Hodu la’Adonai ki tov,
ki le’olam chasdo.
Praise God, for God is good,
Whose mercy endures forever
Praise God, for God is good,
Whose mercy endures forever.
We are going to conclude our dinner tonight with a celebratory toast - a l’chaim.
Rather than filling our own cup tonight, though, and focusing on us as individuals, let’s fill someone else’s cup and recognize that, as a family and group of friends, we have the resources to help each other and those in our community if we are willing to share our resources and collaborate – whether those resources are time, money, skills, or any of the other gifts we bring to one another.
Many of us around the table may already share our resources in different ways - volunteering in our communities, providing pro bono services, donating to charities, or by advocating or lobbying officials. For others we may still be exploring the ways we’re hoping to share our resources and are looking for outlets to do so.
We are now going to fill our 4th cup of wine and I want to invite you to fill someone else’s cup instead of your own. As you fill someone else’s cup, let’s share with each other our answer to the following:
How can I help in changing the world?
We will celebrate again, next year, in the promised land!
Origin Story: Someone I know kept saying "Gal Gadot," the name of the Israeli actress who plays "Wonder W oman" in the DC Movie Universe. The more she said it, the more my brain kept singing her name to "Chad Gadya," the Aramaic song about the one little goat. And so, this parody version was born, celebrating the narrative spirit of the traditional Passover song with all the plot spoilers of the 2017 film, Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot.
While this version of the Chad Gadya has no goats - and really, very little relation to the song Chad Gadya - it can provide a pop culture chuckle at the end of a long seder. Or maybe in the middle, depending on how big your four cups of wine are. Enjoy!
- Esther D. Kustanowitz
Gal Gadot (to the tune of Chad Gadya
Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
1. Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
2. Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
3. Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
4. She discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
5. Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
6. Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
7. David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
8. Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
9. Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
10. Amazons are warriors on an island, Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!
11. Themyscira is a place of power, Amazons are warriors on an island, Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!!!