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Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

Throughout the Haggadah, we have chosen the term ‘Mitzrayim’, instead of ‘Egypt’. Mitzrayim comes from the root Tzar, meaning narrow or constricted. It can refer to the geography of the Nile valley, but also to a metaphorical state of confinement. The Passover story is also the story of the birth of the Jewish people, and ‘mitzrayim’ is the narrow passage we moved through. Leaving ‘mitzrayim’ also means freeing ourselves from narrow-mindedness and oppression. And in this time of intense anti-Arab racism, we are intentionally differentiating between the “bad guys” in this story and any contemporary Arab places or people.

Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

One Jewish tradition in preparing for Passover, is eliminating chametz, or leaven from your house. Traditionally, we go through our cupboards and storage areas to remove all products of leavened grain from our possession. When this task (called bedikah) is accomplished, we destroy a symbolic measure of the collected items by burning (biur), and a blessing is recited. This spring-cleaning gives us an immediate opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of ma’ot hittin (grains of wheat), or caring for the hungry. Many Jews collect their chametz and donate it to a food bank.

Our rabbis remind us that matzah, the sanctified bread of Pesach, is made of the same grain as chametz, that which is forbidden to us on Pesach. What makes the same thing either holy or profane? It is what we do with it, how we treat it, what we make of it. As with wheat, so to with our lives.

As we search our homes, we also search our hearts. What internal chametz has accumulated over the last year? What has puffed us up? What has made us ignore our good inclinations? What has turned us from the paths our hearts would freely follow? Everyone writes down some personal chametz of which they want to be rid. When everyone is finished, we put our chametz together in a bowl for burning. Together we recite the blessing for burning chametz:

(Ashkenazi pronunciation, masc.) Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitvotav vitzivanu al biur chametz.

(Ashkenazi pronunciation, fem.) Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitvotav vitzivanu al biur chametz. Blessed is the force of all life, who makes us holy with mitzvot and invites us to burn chametz.

Every sort of hametz in my possession, which has met my gaze or has not met my gaze, which I have destroyed or have not destroyed, let it be null and void, ownerless, like the dust of the earth.


We gather together tonight in celebration of struggle and survival. We gather to engage our history and our future. We gather to relieve the story of the exodus, as the Jewish people have done for thousands of years, and to gain new lessons that will lead us together for thousands of years more. 

The Pesach Seder is a communal drama, a literal journey we undertake through the stages of liberation. Together, we are obligated to travel from slavery to freedom, to leave safety for the unknown, to reconsider what we thought we already know. Because leaving Mitzrayim - the narrow places, the places that constrict, limit and hurt us - is a personal as well as a communal passage, the questions and thoughts of all members of this community are not only welcome, but vital to our journey. 

Year after year, Pesach challenges us to know three things: who we are, where we came from, and what we stand for. 

Tonight, we ask questions we have asked a thousand times, and find new answers together.

- Adapted from Rabbi Becky Silverstein's Introduction


Lighting of the Candles


The first Pesach was celebrated 3,000 years ago when the people of Israel liberated themselves from the oppression of the Egyptian slave masters and began their march to freedom. We honor all people have struggled or are struggling for freedom as we share the aspirations of our liberated ancestors.

For it is said: Every person, in every generation, must regard him or herself as having been personally freed from bondage in Mitzraim, the biblical land of Egypt.

This week, Jews all over the country and the world and observing Pesach at their own Seders. Our Haggadah has retained the basic order, but has adapted much of the content. This follows in a long tradition.

For it is said: Whoever enlarges upon the telling of the exodus from Egypt, those persons are praiseworthy.

Please join in these blessings as we light the holiday candles.


.בָרוְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינו מֶלְֶ הָעולָם, אֲשֶׁר קדּשָנו בְמִצְותָיו וְצִוָּנו לְהַדלִיק נֵר שֶל (שַבָת וְשֶל) יֹום טו

Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher kid-e-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu le-had-lik ner shel [Sha-bat ve-shel] yom tov.

Blessed is the spirit of freedom in whose honor we kindle the lights of this holiday, Passover, the season of Freedom.

.בָרוְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינו מֶלְֶ הָעולָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנו וְקיְּמָנו וְהִגִיעָנו לַזְמַן הַזֶה

Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam she-he-che-ya-nu ve-ki-ye-ma-nu ve-hi-gi-ya-nu la-za-man ha-zeh.

Blessed is the force of life that brings us to this years spring, to this renewal of our quest for freedom.

Sing Shehechianu.

Source :
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Source :

ON RECLINING -by Yehudah Webster and Leo Ferguson

When drinking the four cups and eating the matzah, we lean on our left side to accentuate the fact that we are free people. In ancient times only free people had the luxury of reclining while eating. We ask that this year you consider what it means to recline when so many are not yet free from oppression. This is not a simple question, and so there is no simple answer. In solidarity, you may choose not to recline. Or perhaps we can rest tonight in order to let go of the weight of our fears — our fear of others; of being visible as Jews; of committing to work outside of what is familiar and comfortable — so that we may lean into struggle tomorrow.


The text of the Kiddush reminds us that the choice to uphold the sacred is in ourhands. We do not directly bless wine, or praise its sweetness. Rather, we thankGod for the fruit of the vine. That fruit can also be used to make vinegar, which
is sharp and bitter. Our actions determine whether this sacred moment in timeinspires bitterness or sweetness, complacency or action. (Other Side of the Sea, Truah 2015)

Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War

As we come together this year the world can seem grim, and at times we are very tired and lose hope of any change occurring. What we drink to tonight is our family, our community, our state, and our nationfomenting change together, around this table and around the world. We all are engaged in struggle, personally, in this country, and internationally.

This year, we drink to the people around the world this past year who have taken the streets, the buildings, the cities in protest of unjust systems. We recognize that their bravery not only shines a light on what we must work against, but also forges the way for new and radicalizing friendships and alliances.

Tonight we come together to recount the stories from the past, share stories of present struggles, and envision together the future we will build with our neighbors. Share stories of active resistance in which you have participated or that have inspired you over the past year.

All say the Blessing over the Wine: (Ashkenazi pronunciation, masc.) Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu Melech ha’olam boreh p’ri ha-gafen.

(Ashkenazi pronunciation, fem.) Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha’olam, borayt p’ri hagafen.

Blessed is the Source that fills all creation and brings forth the fruit of the vine.

Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.

We now take a vegetable, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Most families use a green vegetable, such as parsley or celery, but some families from Eastern Europe have a tradition of using a boiled potato since greens were hard to come by at Passover time. Whatever symbol of spring and sustenance we’re using, we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves. Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

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

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery. They haven’t been lost, just buried beneath the snow, getting ready for reappearance just when we most needed them.


We all have aspects of ourselves that sometimes get buried under the stresses of our busy lives. What has this winter taught us? What elements of our own lives do we hope to revive this spring?

Source : Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

We lift the middle matzah and break it in two.

Hear the sound of glass broken at the end of every Jewish wedding.

Hear the echo of stone tablets cast down and shattered at the foot of the 


Hear the crack of the whip on the backs of slaves.

We carry our brokenness with us.

We lift the middle matzah and break it in two.

The larger piece is hidden.

To remind us that more is concealed than revealed.

To remind us how much we do not know.

How much we do not see.

How much we have yet to understand.

The larger piece is hidden and wrapped in a napkin.

This is the afikomen.

It will be up to the children to find it before the seder can end.

In this game of hide and seek,

We remind ourselves that we do not begin to know all that our children 

will reveal to us.

We do not begin to understand the mysteries that they will uncover,

The broken pieces they will find,

The hidden fragments in need of repair

“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.

And he will turn the hearts of parents to children and the hearts of 

children to Parents [...]”

On this night, may the hearts of parents and children turn toward each 


Together, may we make whole all that is broken.

                          - Sharon Cohen Anisfeld.

Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

Uncover the matzot and lift the seder plate for all to see.

All read: This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in Mitzrayim. All who are hungry, let them come and eat. All who are in need, let them come and celebrate Passover with us. Now we are here; next year may we be in the land of Yisrael / Freedom. Now we are slaves; next year may we be free people.

(Ashkenazi pronunciation) Ha lachma anya di achalu avhatana b’arad’Mitzrayim. Kol dichfin yeitei v’yechol. Kol ditzrich yeitei v’yifsach. Hashata hacha lashanah haba’ahb’ara d’Yisrael. Hashata avdei lashanah haba’ah b’nei chorin.

Reader: This is matzah, the bread of oppression and rebellion that our foremothers baked and ate at a time when they had to be organizing and preparing and resisting and running. There was no time for the bread to rise. Each year we eat matzah to remind ourselves of their struggle, and that our struggle continues. ... When we transform our matzah into journey bread and learn to turn our survival skills towards our goal, our dream, then we become free.

Reader: This is matzah, the bread of affliction and oppression. Let all people who hunger to know and express their nature and strength, all people who seek to find their meanings and place in tradition—come and join our celebration. For the sake of liberation we say these ancient words together:

All: This is the bread of affliction, let all who are hungry come and eat.

Reader: For these words join us with our people and with all who are in need, with those imprisoned, those under occupation, and those forced to live in the streets. For our liberation is bound up with the deliverance from bondage of people everywhere.

Reader: This year we are here seeking a path towards freedom and dignity. Next year, may we live in a world made whole and free, part of a larger community which strengthens and sustains us.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

Even though the Torah focuses on the acts of G-d, the redemption of the Jews could not have happened without the acts of resistance on the part of the people. When Pharaoh gives the order to kill all male Jewish babies, Shifra and Pu-ah, two midwives, do not follow the orders. Rabbinical commentary interprets Pharaoh’s actions as declaring war against the Jews, and the midwives’ civil disobedience is the first step of the liberation process. We are also reminded that we must make noise and protest, before the divine will join our side. - Love and Justice in Times of War


Moses does not appear in traditional haggadot, for fear that if Moses’ role were lauded, we would venerate him like a saint. Indeed: in the megillah of Esther (which we read one month ago at Purim) our liberation is entirely in human hands, and God is mysteriously hidden; in the traditional haggadah, the liberation is entirely credited to God, and human agency (in the person of Moses) is barely mentioned. We're called to balance these two ends of the spectrum. In this haggadah, however, Moses does appear. We choose to ensure that the midwives Shifrah and Puah are remembered and honored in our haggadah, and we make the same choice with regard to Moses. We know he made mistakes. We respect him too much to make him superhuman. In fact, his greatness lies in his very humanity: he was a man like any other, and yet he helped God do wondrous things - Velveteen Rabbi

Maggid - Beginning
Source : "Given Sugar, Given Salt" by Jane Hirschfield

More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and 
over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the
light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs—
all this resinous, unretractable earth. 

"Optimism" by Jane Hirshfield

Maggid - Beginning

ּעֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ הָיִינו. עַתָּה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין

Avadim hayinu hayinu. Ata b’nei chorin.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Now we are free.

"We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God took us from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. Had God not brought our ancestors out of Egypt, then even today we and our children and our grandchildren would still be slaves...More than just ritual observance, we are directed to feel in our own bodies what it might have been like to escape from slavery to freedom.The Exodus story asserts unapologetically that oppression and injustice can and must end, and it lays the foundation for the Jewish vision of a just society. This yearly reminder is a central tenet of Jewish history and culture. For many of our brothers and sisters, however, there is no need for a reminder of the story they carry. " - Becca Goldstein

We read responsively:

Reader: This year, thousands and thousands of refugees fled the Middle East.

All: And too many countries, including ours, failed to welcome them with open arms.

Reader: This year, a politician vying for the most powerful position in our country repeatedly proposed policies grounded in race- and religion-based discrimination.

All: And this year, too many of our fellow Jews support him. And even more have failed to actively fight the bigotry he peddles.

Reader: We have forgotten the fundamental promise we make each year at Passover. To remember. Avadim Hayinu – We were slaves in Egypt

All: We remember our histories, we acknowledge our pasts.

Reader: Atah b’nei horin – Now we are free people

All: How will we use our freedom?

-- Four Questions
Source :

The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The tradition that the youngest person asks the questions reflects 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. If everyone at your seder is around the same age, perhaps the person with the least seder experience can ask them – or everyone can sing them all together.

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה  

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin chameitz u-matzah. Halaila hazeh kulo matzah.

On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah.
Tonight we only eat matzah.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin shi’ar yirakot haleila hazeh maror.

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables,
but tonight we eat bitter herbs.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּֽעַם אחָת  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעמים

Shebichol haleilot ain anu matbilin afilu pa-am echat. Halaila hazeh shtei fi-amim.

On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables one time.
Tonight we do it twice.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין.  :הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּֽנוּ מְסֻבין

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin. Halaila hazeh kulanu m’subin.

On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining.
Tonight we recline.

-- Four Children
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:

What does the wise child say?

The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and laws which God commanded you?

You must teach this child the rules of observing the holiday of Passover.

What does the wicked child say?

The wicked child asks, What does this service mean to you?

To you and not to himself! Because he takes himself out of the community and misses the point, set this child’s teeth on edge and say to him: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.” Me, not him. Had that child been there, he would have been left behind.

What does the simple child say?

The simple child asks, What is this?

To this child, answer plainly: “With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves.”

What about the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question?

Help this child ask.

Start telling the story:

“It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”


Do you see yourself in any of these children? At times we all approach different situations like each of these children. How do we relate to each of them?

-- Exodus Story
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham, the first person to have the idea that maybe all those little statues his contemporaries worshiped as gods were just statues. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.

God had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

Raise the glass of wine and say:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation there are those who rise against us. But God saves us from those who seek to harm us.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even building pyramids. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

But God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention. 

-- Exodus Story
Source : Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah

by cynthia greenberg    

leaving is the easy part
not where to run, how to get there
children pulling at your hems
so many bags to carry
which way in the dark will you wander
what star use as your guide
stepping out into the uncertain sands
what then

it is more than the worry of food, shelter, water, food
what will become of us
this is what holds you back

leaving is the simplest part
to turn, in panic, anger, disdain, passion
rent of all trappings, belonging, owing-ness
to flee

us running, leaping, all gaiety at bonds released
the haze, intoxication, din
will we recognize suffering
notice disequillibrium bedding down among us
as we beat freedom drums
will we turn to the sounds of still-lacking

leaving is the lonliest part
determinedly setting out through unmapped waters
grasping ourselves, the air, what comes next full in our hands
we are wild joyfully moving as the dream
our mothers, fathers, cousins dreamed for us

even in our haste
history whispers:
bring all you have borne with you
leaving it, you will find no peace

what you make of liberation
that is the trick
can you, unshackled, set someone else free? 

-- Exodus Story
Source : Michael Waltzer, Exodus and Revolution
Three Lessons from the Exodus Story

Three conclusions from the Exodus story:

1) Wherever you live, it is probably Mitzrayim.

2) There is a better place, a promised land.

3) The way to this promised land is through the wilderness – there is no way to get there except by joining together and marching

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

“I have concluded that one way to pay tribute to those we loved who struggled, resisted and died is to hold on to their vision and their fierce outrage at the destruction of the ordinary life of their people. It is this outrage we need to keep alive in our daily life and apply to all situations, whether they involve Jews or nonJews. It is this outrage we must use to fuel our actions and vision whenever we see any signs of the disruptions of common life: the hysteria of a mother grieving for the teenager who has been shot, a family stunned in front of a vandalized or demolished home; a family separated, displaced; arbitrary and unjust laws that demand the closing or opening of shops and schools; humiliation of a people whose culture is alien and deemed inferior; a people left homeless without citizenship; a people living under military rule. Because of our experience, we recognize these evils as obstacles to peace. At those moments of recognition, we remember the past, feel the outrage that inspired Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto and allow it to guide us in present struggles.” -Irena Klepfisz

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Machar

Let us all refill our cups.

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Tonight we drink four cups of the fruit of the vine.
There are many explanations for this custom.
They may be seen as symbols of various things:
the four corners of the earth, for freedom must live everywhere;
the four seasons of the year, for freedom's cycle must last through all the seasons;
or the four matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel.

A full cup of wine symbolizes complete happiness.
The triumph of Passover is diminished by the sacrifice of many human lives
when ten plagues were visited upon the people of Egypt.
In the story, the plagues that befell the Egyptians resulted from the decisions of tyrants,
but the greatest suffering occurred among those who had no choice but to follow.

It is fitting that we mourn their loss of life, and express our sorrow over their suffering.
For as Jews and as Humanists we cannot take joy in the suffering of others.
Therefore, let us diminish the wine in our cups
as we recall the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people.


As we recite the name of each plague, in English and then in Hebrew,
please dip a finger in your wine and then touch your plate to remove the drop.


Blood - Dam (Dahm)
Frogs - Ts'phardea (Ts'phar-DEH-ah)
Gnats - Kinim (Kih-NEEM)
Flies - Arov (Ah-ROV)
Cattle Disease - Dever (DEH-vehr)
Boils - Sh'hin (Sh'-KHEEN)
Hail - Barad (Bah-RAHD)
Locusts - `Arbeh (Ar-BEH)
Darkness - Hoshekh (KHO-shekh)
Death of the Firstborn - Makkat B'khorot (Ma-katB'kho-ROT) 

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

In the same spirit, our celebration today also is shadowed
by our awareness of continuing sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world.
Ancient plagues are mirrored in modern tragedies.

In our own time, as in ancient Egypt, ordinary people suffer and die
as a result of the actions of the tyrants who rule over them.
While we may rejoice in the defeat of tyrants in our own time,
we must also express our sorrow at the suffering of the many innocent people
who had little or no choice but to follow.


As the pain of others diminishes our joys,
let us once more diminish the ceremonial drink of our festival
as we together recite the names of these modern plagues:

Pollution of the Earth Indifference to Suffering

Let us sing a song expressing our hope for a better world. 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Tamara Cohen

It Would Have Been Enough

It would have been enough for God to take us out of Egypt.

It would have been enough to bring us through the Red Sea, enough to 

give us the Torah and Shabbat, enough to bring us into the land of 


While we count each of these blessings as if it would have been enough 

on its own, we know that more was given, and more is promised.

From singing Dayeinu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our 

people’s journey.

Yet, we must never confuse these way stations with the redemptive 


Because there is still so much to do in our work of repairing the world.

If we speak truthfully about the pain, joys and contradictions of our 


If we listen to others with sensitivity and compassion,

If we challenge the absence of women in traditional texts, in the 

chronicles of Jewish history, and in the leadership of our 

institutions, Dayeinu.

If we continue to organize, march, and vote to affirm our values,

If we fight economic injustice, sexism, racism, and homophobia,

If we volunteer our time and money, Dayeinu.

If we break the silence about violence against women and children in the 

Jewish community and everywhere,

[If we challenge traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity,]

If we care for the earth and its future as responsibly as we care for those 

we love,

If we create art, music, dance, and literature, Dayeinu.

If we realize our power to effect change,

[If we reconsider who our enemies are, and why we call them that,

If we bring holiness into our lives, homes, and communities,

If we honor our visions more than our fears, Dayeinu.

                                  - Tamara Cohen (brackets by Steph)

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

The plagues and our subsequent redemption from Egypt are but one example of the care God has shown for us in our history. Had God but done any one of these kindnesses, it would have been enough – dayeinu.

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu hotzi- hotzianu, Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim, Dayeinu

If God had only taken us out of Egypt, that would have been enough!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et ha-Torah, Natan lanu et ha-Torah , Dayeinu

If God had only given us the Torah, that would have been enough.

 The complete lyrics to Dayeinu tell the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt as a series of miracles God performed for us. (See the Additional Readings if you want to read or sing them all.)

Dayeinu also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large. 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

We have now told the story of Passover…but wait! We’re not quite done. There are still some symbols on our seder plate we haven’t talked about yet. Rabban Gamliel would say that whoever didn’t explain the shank bone, matzah, and marror (or bitter herbs) hasn’t done Passover justice.

The shank bone represents the Pesach, the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt when visiting plagues upon our oppressors.

The matzah reminds us that when our ancestors were finally free to leave Egypt, there was no time to pack or prepare. Our ancestors grabbed whatever dough was made and set out on their journey, letting their dough bake into matzah as they fled.

The bitter herbs provide a visceral reminder of the bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors experienced in Egypt.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah
Second Cup: To What Sustains Us

We work so hard everyday, to live our beliefs, to build just and loving relationships, and to just get by. And rarely do we pause to savor and appreciate that work. It is good to act for justice and it is righteous to pause and appreciate that work. Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Hasidic rabbi and organizer explains “given the history of the people, this makes sense. A temple can be destroyed; a people dispersed, and so it happened for the Jews many times over thousands of years. But a Sabbath day cannot be burned, smashed or shattered." When we take the time to reflect, to breathe, we are creating the Sabbath or Shabbat in our everyday life.

Meditation: Bring to mind something which sustains you either spiritually or physically. Then imagine what sustains it, and offer that your praises.

Everyone say the blessing and drink the second cup of wine:

(Ashkenazi pronunciation, fem.) Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha’olam, borayt p’ri ha-gafen. (Ashkenazi pronunciation, masc.) Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu Melech ha’olam boreh p’ri ha-gafen.

Blessed is Hashem, Sustainer of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple.

Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand and then three times on your left hand.

After you have poured the water over your hands, recite this short blessing.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ  עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.

Source :

The blessing over the meal and matzah | motzi matzah | מוֹצִיא מַצָּה

The familiar hamotzi blessing marks the formal start of the meal. Because we are using matzah instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this mitzvah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who brings bread from the land.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat matzah.

Distribute and eat the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.

Source :

Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror  |מָרוֹר   

  In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet… but doesn’t the sweet mean more when it’s layered over the bitterness?

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat bitter herbs.

Source :

Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich | כּוֹרֵךְ

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the biggest ritual of them all was eating the lamb offered as the pesach or Passover sacrifice. The great sage Hillel would put the meat in a sandwich made of matzah, along with some of the bitter herbs. While we do not make sacrifices any more – and, in fact, some Jews have a custom of purposely avoiding lamb during the seder so that it is not mistaken as a sacrifice – we honor this custom by eating a sandwich of the remaining matzah and bitter herbs. Some people will also include charoset in the sandwich to remind us that God’s kindness helped relieve the bitterness of slavery.

Shulchan Oreich
Source :

Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich | שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

Enjoy! But don’t forget when you’re done we’ve got a little more seder to go, including the final two cups of wine!

Source :

Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon | צָפוּן

The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. As we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives.

Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah
Teaching Our Children Rebellion

“So who has found the afikomen?” we ask. The finders hold the napkin-covered matzah tightly in their hands and are determined to bargain. It is a part of our lesson plan—this small rebellion.

Each year we teach a new generation to resist bondage, to envision someplace better, to savor freedom, and to take responsibility for the journeys of their lives.

And each year with the afikomen ritual, they hold power in their hands, just long enough to say, “yes” or “no” with all eyes on them. With people waiting. “We can’t finish the seder without it.”

Just long enough to learn to ask for what they want.


Why Black Lives Matter to a People for Whom G-d Promised a Holy Place

By Graie Barasch-Hagans

BLM Supplement, JREJ 2015

As Jews we come together in our most vulnerable moments. We come as community to support our mourners in our synagogues and in our homes. As Black folks we have come to the street, to the courthouse, to the town square to demand justice.

Our demands for justice are a communal act to love and support one another. A communal act to remember those who have been taken from us.

We have no kaddish, no framework of remembrance. We have hashtags, freedom songs, and protest chants.

When we say Black Lives Matter we are calling for the recognition of G-d in us all. We are calling for our skin to be recognized as the skin of family, our tears to be recognized as the tears of mothers, of fathers, of lovers, the tears of G-d.

We are a people who know that there is a better world and that it our responsibility, our duty to love and support one another. The stranger, the beggar, and the familial.

For those of us who live our lives through Blackness we cannot separate our duty as Jews from our fears of being strange in a land that though of our birth still does not recognize us fully as present. As Jews who cannot separate from our Blackness we inhabit spaces of silent loss. We struggle to rise as mourners in spaces that call for us to remember our time as slaves in Egypt. To remember that we are not safe as Jews. That are inhabited by the call “Never Again.”

For we are the descendants of slaves with no great escape story. No great memorial to our suffering. No great G-d to intervene on our behalf, to choose us, to form us as a people. And yet for many of us who inhabit both Blackness and Jewishness we feel the deep divide, as the parting of the seas. For if our images of our great escape maintain the dichotomy of light versus dark would the sea fall in on us? Would we be cast aside, swept away in the great tide? Would we be held tight and carried with as much as care as the bread we did not have time to rise? As so many with faces with skin so similar to mine remain in bondage, in isolation, removed from a people still struggling will we return to the voice of “we” in our demand to Let my people go?


Reader: This is the ancient Jewish prayer for the dead. It is not customary to recite the Kaddish during the seder but tonight we would like to take a moment to remember all of our heroes and loved ones who have died. From those taken from this world recently, to those whose absence continues to be as palpable as Elijah's, so many years later, let us remember.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’may raba

b’alma di v’ra chirutay, v’yamlich malchutay b’chayaychon uv’yomaychon

uv’chay d’chol beyt Yisrael,

Ba’agala u’vizman kariv, v’imru, Amein.

Y’hay sh’may raba m’varech l’olam ul’almay almaya.

Yitbarach v’yishtabach v’yitpa’ar v’yitromam v’yitnasay v’yit-hadar v’yitaleh

v’yit-halal, sh’may d’kudsha, b’rich Hu.

L’ayla min kol birchata v’shirata, tush b’chata v’nechemata,

da’amiran b’alma, vimru, Amein.

Y’hay sh’lama raba min sh’maya, v’chayim aleinu v’al kol Yisrael, v’imru,


"Small things such as this have saved me: how much I love my mother—even after all these years. How powerfully I carry her within me. My grief is tremendous but my love is bigger. So is yours."

"Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal."

"It will never be okay,” a friend who lost her mom in her teens said to me a couple years ago. “It will never be okay that our mothers are dead.”.....The unadorned truth of what she’d said—it will never be okay—entirely unzipped me.

It will never be okay, and yet there we were, the two of us more than okay, both of us happier and luckier than anyone has a right to be... though there isn’t one good thing that has happened to either of us that we haven’t experienced through the lens of our grief. I’m not talking about weeping and wailing every day (though sometimes we both did that). I’m talking about what goes on inside, the words unspoken, the shaky quake at the body’s core...

It will never be okay ..And the kindest most loving thing you can do for her is to bear witness to that, to muster the strength and courage and humility it takes to accept the enormous reality of its not okayness and be okay with it the same way she has to be. Get comfortable being the [person] who says oh honey, I’m so sorry for your loss over and over again....compassion isn’t about solutions. It’s about giving all the love that you’ve got."

-Cheryl Strayed

Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

Elijah’s Cup

In the ninth century B.C.E., a farmer arose to challenge the domination of the ruling elite. In his tireless and passionate advocacy on behalf of the common people, and his ceaseless exposure of the corruption and waste of the court, Elijah sparked a movement and created a legend which would inspire people for generations to come.

Before he died, Elijah declared that he would return once each generation in the guise of any poor or oppressed person, coming to people’s doors to see how he would be treated. By the treatment offered this poor person, who would be Elijah himself, he would know whether the population had reached a level of humanity making them capable of participating in the dawn of the Messianic age.

Miriam’s Cup

The story has always been told of a miraculous well of living water which has accompanied the Jewish people since the world was spoken into being. The well comes and goes, as it is needed, and as we remember, forget, and remember again how to call it to us. In the time of the exodus from Mitzrayim, the well came to Miriam, in honor of her courage and action, and stayed with the Jews as they wandered the desert. Upon Miriam’s death, the well again disappeared.

All: With this ritual of Miriam’s cup, we honor all Jewish women, transgender, and queer people whose histories have been erased. We commit ourselves to transforming all of our cultures into loving welcoming spaces for people of all genders and sexes.

Reader: Tonight we remember Miriam and ask: Who on own journey has been a way-station for us? Who has encouraged our thirst for knowledge? To whom do we look as role-models for our daughters and for ourselves? Who sings with joy at our accomplishments?

Each person names a mentor or role model whose acts of love and/or courage inspires and guides them, and pours water into the communal cup until it overflows.

Source : Adapted from Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

A Cup for Hope

Tonight, we hold fast to the belief that people and our actions can change the world. We hold close the stories of resistance, fromTehran to Santa Rosa, from Philadelphia to Nablus, people and communities are building and changing and creating as acts of resistance.

Please share something that gives you hope now, to remind us of the promise of the world we are a part of creating together.

All say the Blessing over the Wine: (Ashkenazi pronunciation, masc.)

Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu Melech ha’olam boreh p’ri ha-gafen.

(Ashkenazi pronunciation, fem.) Brucha Yah Shechinah, eloheinu Malkat ha’olam, borayt p’ri hagafen.

Blessed is the Source that fills all creation and brings forth the fruit of the vine.

Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah,

Nirtzah  marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories and sung songs, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we honor the tradition of declaring, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

For some people, the recitation of this phrase expresses the anticipation of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and the return of the Messiah. For others, it is an affirmation of hope and of connectedness with  Klal Yisrael, the whole of the Jewish community. Still others yearn for peace in Israel and for all those living in the Diaspora.

Though it comes at the end of the seder, this moment also marks a beginning. We are beginning the next season with a renewed awareness of the freedoms we enjoy and the obstacles we must still confront. We are looking forward to the time that we gather together again. Having retold stories of the Jewish people, recalled historic movements of liberation, and reflected on the struggles people still face for freedom and equality, we are ready to embark on a year that we hope will bring positive change in the world and freedom to people everywhere.

In  The Leader's Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night, Rabbi David Hartman writes: “Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.”

What can  we  do to fulfill our reckless dreams? What will be our legacy for future generations?

Our seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. As we had the pleasure to gather for a seder this year, we hope to once again have the opportunity in the years to come. We pray that God brings health and healing to Israel and all the people of the world, especially those impacted by natural tragedy and war. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim


Source : Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah

“One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast...a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it is still out there. So get out there and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains. Run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to your body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much: I promise you this sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will out-live the bastards.”

Edward Abbey

Source :

Ilu ho-tsi, ho-tsi-a-nu, 
Ho-tsi-a-nu mi-Mitz-ra-yim, 
Ho-tsi-a-nu mi-Mitz-ra-yim, 

.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu! 
.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Dai, da-ye-nu, 
.. Da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu!

Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, 
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, 
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, 


Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, 
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, 
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, 

.. (CHORUS)