This may take up to thirty seconds.
Reader 1: This week Jews all over the world are observing Pesakh at their own Seders. The word "Seder" means "order", and "Hagada" means "The Telling." The traditional Hagada contains very specific rituals and readings. Our Hagada has been changed to include a secular content emphasizing the ideal of the struggle for freedom and human dignity.
Reader 2: Pesakh has been observed by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. The holiday was celebrated by many: a slave in Herod's court, a foot soldier who fought with the Maccabees, a Jewish courtier in Arab Spain, the Hasidim worldwide, and the Jewish immigrants crowded in New York's East Side tenements. All have celebrated the holiday of Pesakh.
Reader 3: The ways of observing it have been many, the languages spoken have been diverse, the garments worn have been varied, the circumstances have been as surprising as history, but one idea in the festival has not changed - that it is a celebration of freedom. In Jewish tradition, Pesakh, is known as "The Season of Our Liberation."
Reader 4: In song, in myth, in literature, in history, the Jews have associated Pesakh with liberation - liberation from winter, from bondage, from oppression. Sholem Aleichem, the famous Yiddish writer, touched the pagan layer of excitement with nature and spring that lies at the misty beginnings of this festival... "The wonderful time, the most joyous time of the year has come...the sun is high in the sky...the air is free and fresh, soft and clear. On the hill are the first sprouts of spring grass - tender, quivering, green. With a screech and a flutter of wings a straight line of swallows flies overhead, and I am reminded of the Song of Songs. 'For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing is come.”
Reader 5: Not often do families and friends meet together for a festive meal to celebrate a great historic event, and to reflect on the meanings of freedom. Most of the time each of us is busy pursuing individual duties and interests. Today parents, children, grandparents and friends take the time to remember our precious heritage.
Reader 6: Why did we write a new Hagada? Times change and a Hagada needs to reflect our values and the ever changing world. Throughout the Seder, the Jewish attitude towards life and our devotion to freedom is expressed. The Hagada’s penchant for constant change allows us to reflect upon freedom tales of all times. Sadly enough, it continues to be necessary to add tales of affliction.
Reader 7: Slavery continues in many ways in the world today. People are enslaved by despots. Prejudice enslaves. Poverty makes people slaves. Some people are slaves within themselves.
ALL: Pesakh is a festival of freedom!
Pesakh calls for an end to all slavery!
Pesakh proclaims: Let My People Go!
Reader 8: Our Seder begins with the traditional lighting of the candles.
(Light candles at each table)
ALL: May the radiance of these flames spread light throughout our lives. May light come into the darkened corners of our world, with the light of love and truth, peace and goodwill.
Barukh ha-or ba-o-lam
Barukh ha-or ba-a-dam
Barukh ha-or ba-Pesakh
FIRST CUP OF WINE
(pour first cup of wine and raise cups)
Reader 9: Generations ago our ancestors responded to the call for freedom. In every generation, we ought to view ourselves as though we have been personally liberated from slavery. Today that call continues, obligating us to work for an era when all people will be liberated. Let us drink the first cup of wine to celebrate the liberation of peoples from tyranny.
(Drink the first cup of wine)
ALL: Barukh ha-toov ba-o-lam
Barukh ha-toov ba-a-dam
Barukh ha-toov be-pesach
(raise second cup of wine)
The fate of every Jew is bound up with the fate of the Jewish people and the destiny of the Jewish people cannot be separated from the destiny of all humanity. Let us drink this cup of wine to symbolize our pledge to break the bonds of slavery for all who are not free.
(Drink the second cup of wine)
At this point in our festivity, let us reflect upon the significance of Passover. Passover celebrates freedom. Can we be free while others are not? If there are people anywhere who are oppressed, then we cannot celebrate Passover with a clear conscience.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Injustice to any people is a threat to justice to ALL people.
I will not remain silent in the face of injustice."
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The Afikomen is the last piece of matza to be eaten at the Seder. It is part of the middle matza that has been hidden at the beginning of the Seder. The Afikomen must be eaten before the Seder can be completed.
Traditionally, the children try to find it and are then in a good position to bargain with the leader to get it back. This symbolizes the right of children to be heard and to be involved in family decisions and of their importance in our future.
Although everyone will eat a last piece of matzah, the search for the afikomen will be different because of the number of children present.
Song: Hiney Mah Tov
Hiney mah tov
Behold how good and how pleasing for brothers (people) to sit together in unity.
Let us drink the third cup of wine to the heroism of the Jewish fighters who fought in the ghettos, the forests, on the war fronts together with the righteous gentiles and all of decent humanity to stop the curse of fascism from engulfing the earth. Let us be true to their memory by being ever vigilant to the cause of peace and freedom in our land and throughout the world.
In the sacred memory of the twelve million people who died in the holocaust we light this candle. And we light it also for the future…our future in a world of peace, justice and freedom.
For centuries, at the Seder’s conclusion, Jews repeated the phrase “next year in Jerusalem”. They longed for their homeland. It would be comforting to end this story in the land of milk and honey. But, in fact, there will be no land of milk and honey until all groups can put aside their differences and come together in peace.
Throughout time, groups have always fought and enslaved one another, physically and intellectually. Our history is one of constant struggle against repression. Throughout the centuries, Jews have been denied freedom.
In every generation I must find my freedom again
In every generation they rise up to destroy me
In every generation there are those who would be
masters of slaves.
In every generation I was a slave
I was a slave for Pharaoh in Egypt
for Nebuchadnezzer in Babylon
and died fighting the Romans at Massada
and fled from the Crusaders
and from the Spanish Inquisitors
and was slain by the Cossacks in Russia,
and by the Nazis
and still there are those who oppress us as the
Russian Government oppressed our people and those
who would destroy us as the Arabs fought to
How can I be free while there is one slave left?
How can I be free when people use guns instead of
How can I be free when my own mind enslaves me in
bigotry, jealousy and hatred?
This year we are slaves, but next year....shall we be free?
Harvey Fisher (Former member of JSC)
My thoughts are as free, as wind o’er the ocean,
And no one can see their form or their motion.
No scholar can map them, no hunger can trap them,
My lips may be still, but I think what I will. (repeat line)
I think as I please, and this gives me pleasure.
My conscience decrees this right I must treasure.
My thoughts will not cater, to duke or dictator,
No captive I’ll be, for my spirit is free. (repeat line)
And if tyrants take me, and throw me in prison,
My thoughts will burst free, like blossoms in season.
Foundations will crumble, the structure will tumble,
No captive I’ll be, for my spirit is free. (repeat line)