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Introduction

Adapted from The New American Haggadah and The Boston Workmen's Circle Haggadah for Pesach

Here we are, gathered to celebrate the oldest continually practiced ritual in the Western World...

Here we are as we were last year, and as we hope to be next year.

Here we are, as night descends in succession over all of the Jews of the world, with a book in front of us... It is not a work of history or philosophy, not a prayer book, user's manual, timeline, poem, or palimpest- and yet it is all of these things. The Torah is the foundational text for Jewish law, but the Haggadah is our book of living memory. We are not merely telling a story here. We are being called to a radical act of empathy.

Here we are, embarking on an ancient, perennial attempt to give human life-  our lives-  dignity...

Here we are: Individuals remembering a shared past and in pursuit of a shared destiny. The seder is a protest against despair. The universe might appear deaf to our fears and hopes, but we are not- so we gather, and share them, and pass them down. We have been waiting for this moment for thousands of years- more than one hundred generations of Jews have been here as we are- and we will continue to wait for it. And we will not wait idly...

New Haggadahs will be written until there are no more Jews to write them. Or until our destiny has been fulfilled, and there is no more need to say, "Next year in Jerusalem."

-From the New American Haggadah, J.S. Foer, 2012

Together we celebrate the festival of liberation of the Jewish people, who are linked throughout history with all peoples in the passion for justice and human liberty. This is one holiday that is not celebrated in the synagogue, rather around the table with family and friends. While Judaism is a liturgical religion, on this night we engage in dialogue. We also celebrate the coming of Spring, and open our home with any who want to enter- to hear their stories and ideas. We enrich ourselves in the power of community because we have all come here for different reasons.

I have come here because we are a people with deep historic roots and memories that are still relevant today

• because many centuries ago, our ancestors left slavery and began their march toward freedom

• because the struggles for freedom never stop, and because they provide inspiration in our time

• because spring is all around, the earth is reborn, and it is a time to celebrate with family and friends.

As we retell this ancient story, let us remind ourselves of those people around the world who are living this story today.

Let us celebrate our freedom by strengthening ourselves to join the fight against injustice wherever it exists. For as long as one person is oppressed, none of us are free.

Kadesh

All Jewish celebrations, from holidays to weddings, include wine as a symbol of our joy – not to mention a practical way to increase that joy. The seder starts with wine and then gives us three more "official" opportunities to refill our cup and drink.

As we remember our own liberation from bondage in Egypt, we express gratitude for the ability to work as God’s partners in continued and continual redemption for oppressed people, modern day slaves, and homeless refugees around the world. As our wine cups overflow in this moment of joy, we hold out hope for the day when every person in search of refuge in every corner of the earth can recall a story of freedom, reflect on a journey to security from violence and persecution and no longer yearn for a safe place to call home. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, who frees those who are oppressed.

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.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who chose us from all peoples and languages, and sanctified us with commandments, and lovingly gave to us special times for happiness, holidays and this time of celebrating the Holiday of Matzah, the time of liberation, reading our sacred stories, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. For you chose us and sanctified us among all peoples. And you have given us joyful holidays. We praise God, who sanctifies the people of Israel and the holidays.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,
שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam,
she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything,
who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment.

Drink the first glass of wine!

Karpas
Source : Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, Five Interfaith Passover Readings You Can Add to Your Haggadah
Karpas (parsley that is dipped in salt water during the seder) kavannah (spiritual focus)--time for spring awakening, new directions--renewal and bursting forth of new ideas.

We take this time to honor others who travel with us from other faiths and cultural traditions. We acknowledge the fact that they bring a new perspective to our lives and a legacy of their own that enriches ours. We are grateful for the growth that we have experienced because they are in our lives.

As a plant bursts forth with new energy to bloom, so too we recognize that at this time of Jewish history we are blossoming in different ways. As the garden needs tending, so, too, do our relationships with spouses, in-laws and families of other traditions. Weeding out all that is not necessary and loving, we make room for fresh insight and respect. Welcome those who sit around this table for the first time or the twentieth, bringing new understanding to our discussion.

Yachatz

There are three pieces of matzo bread on the table in front of us. We will now break the middle matzo into two pieces—the larger of which should be wrapped up and hidden. This is the afikomen

We eat matzo, as opposed to leavened bread, on Passover, to remember that our ancestors did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise while waiting on Pharoah’s word regarding their freedom.

Lift the three pieces of matzo into the air, and recite: This is the bread of affliction, that our people ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are need, come and celebrate this Passover with us. 

Read aloud: 

"The Lord's Prayer From Guatamala" by Julia Esquivel 

Give us this day our daily bread:

the bread of freedom to associate and organize,

the bread of being able to be at home and walk the streets without being abducted,

the bread of not having to search for a place to hide,

the bread of going into the streets without seeing machine guns,

the bread of equality, the bread of happiness.

Let the bread of your work and the bread of education come into our huts, stalks and straw, into our cardboard shacks, and let us carry them in our knapsacks as we travel through life.

The bread of land titles for all campesinos and peasants,

the bread of milk for all children under two years of age who suffer malnutrition and hunger,

the bread of medical assistance for those in the countryside,

the bread of land for the thousands of landless campesinos.

Amen.

-Contributed and assembled by Julian Cranberg 
 

Yachatz
Matzah Bob

Here before me are three matzahs.

We divide the middle matzah in two.

One part we keep here. The second part we shall hide while the children close their eyes. This is called the afikomen from the Greek word for dessert. After the meal the children will hunt for it and the finder will be rewarded. When the hidden part is found, we will put the two halves together again, and this will be a sign that what is broken off is not really lost to our people, so long as our children remember and search. Each of us will then eat a little bit of the ceremonial matzah, in place of the lamb of the days of the Temple.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Imagine you are standing on the bank of the sea of reeds and you look forward and all you see is water. Suddenly, you look behind you and you see the Egyptian army quickly approaching you. The Israelites pled to Moses and Moses spoke to God. God told Moses, raise your staff over the water and I will split the seas. So Moses did, and nothing happened.

Suddenly a man named Nachshon started walking into the water.  The water was up to his knees…no splitting. The water rose up to his waste…no splitting. The water was up to his chest…still no splitting. Not until the water was under Nachshon’s nose did the sea split and all the Israelites walked across singing Micah Mocha and praising G-d.

A lot of people interpret that the miracles of this story were the result of G-d being a show off and trying to demonstrate his powers. I take it another way, I say that G-d just needed people to believe in him and then he came through.  The message of this story is that we need to take action before God helps us. We need to take the first step into the “sea” because G-d won’t help us until we try to help ourselves, our world, and our community.

However, some commentators suggest that maybe Nachshon was pushed into the sea and didn’t necessarily intend on becoming a leader. He was just some random guy who was at the right place at the right time. In this scenario, Nachshon becomes a hero for something he wasn’t even intending on doing. I personally like the idea of Nachshon being a leader and coming out of the crowd, standing along the banks, and deciding to step into the water without anyone else having anything to do with it.

In real life, we have a little of both. We are often put into the position of the Nachshon who was pushed, and into the shoes of the Nachshon that walked. We often try to be the brave Nachshon that walks into the water, but we are really the Nachshon that was pushed. Regardless of what you believe, we can all realize that most often we are somewhere in the middle of being pushed and walking intentionally.     

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
A Cup to our Teachers: To those we have known and those whose work has inspired us, and made space for our lives. We are grateful to you who did and said things for the first time, who claimed and reclaimed our traditions, who forged new tools. Thank you to the teachers around us of all ages-- the people we encounter everyday--who live out their values in small and simple ways, and who are our most regular and loving reminders of the world we are creating together. (Love and Justice Haggadah)

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.

We thank a higher power, shaper and maker, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Drink the second glass of wine!

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

How many times do we forget to pause and notice that where we are is exactly where we ought to be? Dayenu is a reminder to never forget all the miracles in our lives. When we stand and wait impatiently for the next one to appear, we are missing the whole point of life. Instead, we can actively seek a new reason to be grateful, a reason to say “Dayenu.”

Fun fact: Persian and Afghani Jews hit each other over the heads and shoulders with scallions every time they say Dayenu! They especially use the scallions in the ninth stanza which mentions the manna that the Israelites ate everyday in the desert, because Torah tells us that the Israelites began to complain about the manna and longed for the onions, leeks and garlic. Feel free to be Persian/Afghani for the evening if you’d like.

If He had brought us out from Egypt,

Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim,

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had split the sea for us,

Ilu kara lanu et hayam,

אִלּוּ קָרַע לָנוּ אֶת הַיָּם

and had not taken us through it on dry land

v'lo he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

וְלֹא הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had taken us through the sea on dry land

Ilu he'eviranu b'tocho becharavah,

אִלּוּ הֶעֱבִירָנוּ בְּתוֹכוֹ בֶּחָרָבָה

and had not supplied our needs in the desert for forty years

v'lo sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

וְלֹא סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had supplied our needs in the desert for forty years,

Ilu sipeik tzorkeinu bamidbar arba'im shana,

אִלּוּ סִפֵּק צָרַכֵּנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה

and had not fed us the manna

v'lo he'echilanu et haman,

וְלֹא הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had fed us the manna,

Ilu he'echilanu et haman,

אִלּוּ הֶאֱכִילָנוּ אֶת הַמָּן

and had not given us the Shabbat

v'lo natan lanu et hashabbat,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had given us the Shabbat,

Ilu natan lanu et hashabbat,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַשַּׁבָּת

and had not brought us before Mount Sinai

v'lo keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

וְלֹא קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had brought us before Mount Sinai,

Ilu keirvanu lifnei har sinai,

אִלּוּ קֵרְבָנוּ לִפְנֵי הַר סִינַי

and had not given us the Torah

v'lo natan lanu et hatorah,

וְלֹא נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had given us the Torah,

Ilu natan lanu et hatorah,

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָנוּ אֶת הַתּוֹרָה

and had not brought us into the land of Israel

v'lo hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

וְלֹא הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

If He had brought us into the land of Israel,

Ilu hichnisanu l'eretz yisra'eil,

אִלּוּ הִכְנִיסָנוּ לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל

and not built for us the Holy Temple

v'lo vanah lanu et beit hamikdash,

וְלֹא בָּנָה לָנוּ אֶת בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ

— Dayenu, it would have been enough!

dayeinu!

דַּיֵּנוּ

Motzi-Matzah
Source : Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dissatisfied...

We still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom. Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shored of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice.

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and the comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.

Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women...will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin.

Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let us be dissatisfied until the day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.

Shulchan Oreich
Source : Gerald Weiss (modified)

Gefilte Fish - A Mythical Midrash

According to Ashkenazi Jewish custom, we eat Gefilte fish on Passover. The question arose as to why Gefilte fish is so closely associated with Passover, and why it seems to appear on so many Seder tables.

Here is one answer:

When the Israelites found themselves trapped between the Sea of Reeds (sometimes mistakenly called the Red Sea) and the pursuing Egyptian chariots, they panicked. They cried to Moses, who cried to God who said: wait, let me think ...

Aha!

As it happens, in a quirky moment during the evolutionary process, God created an odd kind of sea creature. It was awkward looking and lumpy, with no fins, no scales, no eyes, no tail...and very, very pale. Yuch! So God stuck this evolutionary oddity in an out of the way place where it could live out its life-cycle in peace, unobserved. God put this wild Gefilte fish species in only one body of water on Earth -- somewhat off the beaten path -- in the Sea of Reeds (again, often mistakenly called the Red Sea) -- where the species lived and multiplied in obscurity for ages.

So anyway, suddenly, God, who has a really long memory, remembered the wild Gefilte fish and the unique capability they developed, namely, the ability to suck in and hold 40 times (400 times, according to Rabbi Akiva) their weight in water.

And God spoke to the wild Gefilte, numbering in the tens of thousands, saying, "OK, fellas, at the count of three, SUCK IN!"  All at once, tens of thousands of wild Gefilte fish made a whooshing, sucking sound, as they simultaneously sucked in so much water that the middle of the Sea of Reeds (yes, often mistakenly called the Red Sea) dried up and a path opened up for the Israelites, enabling them to cross to the other side. BUT, when the Egyptian chariots tried to follow them across the dry sea bed, the wild Gefilte fish, unable to HOLD 40 times their weight in water (or 400 times, according to Rabbi Akiva) any longer, let go, and the ensuing tsunami swept the Egyptian chariots away.

Israel was saved, and with tambourines and song, they praised God for God's foresight in creating the now heroic and celebrated, albeit rather unattractive, wild Gefilte fish.

So, from that day to this, in gratitude for the part they played in rescuing Israel at the Red Sea (oh, whatever), the wild Gefilte fish were domesticated and granted a place of honor on the Seder table. 

Now, how's THAT for a fish story?

Shulchan Oreich
"Passover" By Yehuda Amichai

My father was a god and did not know it. He gave me The Ten Commandments neither in thunder nor in furry; neither in fire nor in cloud But rather in gentleness and love. And he added caresses and kind words and he added “I beg You,” and “please.” And he sang “keep” and “remember” the Shabbat In a single melody and he pleaded and cried quietly between one utterance and the next , “Do not take the name of God in vain,” do not take it, not in vain, I beg you, “do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” And he hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear “Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Do not murder.” And he put the palms of his open hands On my head wit the Yom Kippur blessing. “Honor, love, in order that your days might be long On the earth.” And my father’s voice was white like the hair on his head. Later on he turned his face to me one last time Like on the day when he died in my arms and said I want to add Two to the Ten Commandments: The eleventh commandment – “Thou shall not change.” And the twelfth commandment – “Thou must surely change.” So said my father and then he turned from me and walked off Disappearing into his strange distances.

Tzafun

Here we drink the '3rd' (actually 2nd in reverse seder) cup of wine.

Elijah and Miriam's Cup:

We'll also pour two more cups of wine for the prophets Elijah and Miriam, and open the door for them. In the next page we'll look at a Pardes section on Elijah. Tonight, we are also considering the prophet Miriam. Miriam prophesied "My mother is destined to give birth to a son who will save Israel". Miriam's mother later gave birth to Moishe (Moishe House, woo!). 

A Midrash teaches us that a miraculous well accompanied the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert, providing them with water. This well was given by God to Miriam, Moses’s sister, the prophetess, to honor her bravery and devotion to the Jewish people. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert, sources of sustenance and healing. Her words of comfort gave the Hebrews the faith and confidence to overcome the hardships of the Exodus.

We fill Miriam's cup with water to honor her role in ensuring the survival of the Jewish people. Like Miriam, Jewish women in all generations have been essential for the continuity of our people. As keepers of traditions in the home, women passed down songs and stories, rituals and recipes, from mother to daughter, from generation to generation.

We place Miriam's cup on our Seder table to honor the important role of Jewish women in our tradition and history, whose stories have been too sparingly told.

Miriam's life is a foil to the life of Elijah. Elijah was a hermit, a visionary, and prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the world to come. Miriam lived among her people in the desert, constantly encouraging them throughout their long journey. Elijah's cup is a symbol of future messianic redemption, while Miriam's cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present. Both are important: we need both Elijah's cup and Miriam's cup at our Seder table.

During Bareich in a conventionally ordered seder, we say thanks for the food we just ate. In this reverse seder, we'll now go around the room and say something we are grateful for - be it the food we are about to eat, or something else in life.

Tzafun
Source : American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Children and the Afikoman

Refugee and French Jewish orphans celebrate Passover together in 1947.

Bareich
Source : Earth Justice Seder

After the meal we recite this blessing to thank God for the food we have eaten. 

ָ בּ ר וּ ךְ ַ א ָ ת ה ְ י ָ י ַ ה ָ ז ן ֶ א ת ַ ה ֹכ ל . 

Baruch atah Adonai, hazan et hakol. 
We praise You, O God, Source of food for all who live. 

{ GREENING TIP } 
The average person uses 350-500 plastic bags per year. Reduced your waste by switching to reusable bags. 

For more information on the environmental justice, please visit rac.org/enviro
For all Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism resources, please visit
rac.org/Passover .

Bareich

עֹשֶׂה שָׁלום בִמְרומָיו, הוא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלום עָלֵינו וְעַל כָל. יִשְׂראַל. וְאִמְרו אָמֵן.

O-SEH SHA-LOM BI-M’RO-MAV, HU YA-A-SEH SHA-LOM A-LEI-NU V’AL KOL YIS-RA-EIL V’I-ME-RU, A-MEIN.

Hallel
Source : Machar

Leader:
Let us all refill our cups.

Leader picks up cup for all to see.

This is the cup of hope.

The seder tradition involves pouring a cup for the Hebrew prophet Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.

Yet the tasks of saving the world - once ascribed to prophets, messiahs and gods - must be taken up by us mere mortals, by common people with shared goals. Working together for progressive change,we can bring about the improvement of the world, tiqqun ha-olam - for justice and for peace, we can and we must.

Leader:

Let us now symbolically open the door of our seder to invite in all people of good will and all those in needto work together with us for a better world.Let us raise our fourth cup as we dedicate ourselves to tiqqun olam, the improvement of the world.

Everyone:

"L' Tiqqun Olam!"

All drink the fourth cup.

Nirtzah
Source : @eileenmachine
I Change Myself, I Change the World

I change myself, I change the world.” ― Gloria E. Anzaldúa

"Still I Rise” ― Maya Angelou

Nirtzah
Source : Jeffrey Goldberg in the New American Haggadah

At the very least, we can understand the call “Next Year in Jerusalem” as a repudiation of the wicked son: Jews, no matter our politics, have a special responsibility to tie ourselves to Israel’s fate, and to work for the vision of Israel in which we believe. But “Next Year in Jerusalem” also has a spiritual meaning. In Jerusalem itself, the seder concludes with the the call “Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem.”  The Jerusalem Jerusalemites are striving for is something else altogether, the Jerusalem on high. Jerusalem is the symbol of peace, the destination of the Messiah, the holiest place on earth, the purest expression of the profound Jewish belief that the world will one day be a better place. It is this idea of Jerusalem for which we also reach. When we reach it--and we will, for that is the core Jewish belief--there will be no more need for seders and Haggadot: We will live in a world in which the poor are fed and sheltered and the sick healed; in which the Jews are accepted as a free people; in which no one is persecuted or enslaved. Until that day arrives, we will continue to gather around the Passover table, to remind ourselves, and each other, of the work we must do. So what are we going to do?