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Introduction

The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles.  In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time.  Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame of freedom alive in the world.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

As we light the festival candles, we acknowledge that as they brighten our Passover table, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.

Introduction
by HIAS
Source : https://www.hias.org/passover2017
Throughout our history, violence and persecution have driven the Jewish people to wander in search of a safe place to call home. We are a refugee people. At the Passover Seder, we gather to retell the story of our original wandering and the freedom we found. But we do not just retell the story. We are commanded to imagine ourselves as though we, personally, went forth from Egypt – to imagine the experience of being victimized because of who we are, of being enslaved, and of being freed.

As we step into this historical experience, we cannot help but draw to mind the 65 million displaced people and refugees around the world today fleeing violence and persecution, searching for protection. Like our ancestors, today’s refugees experience displacement, uncertainty, lack of resources, and the complete disruption of their lives.

Over the past year, we have read almost daily about humanitarian crises, watched xenophobic hate crimes increase, and been overwhelmed by the sheer number of people being persecuted. In the United States, in particular, we have experienced a devastating closing of doors to refugees. We now have the opportunity this evening to move beyond the headlines and the statistics to focus on the individual experiences behind the numbers and policies. These are the experiences of refugees around the world who, like the ancient Israelites, are finding liberation amidst brokenness and rebuilding their lives. Tonight, as we embrace the experience of our ancestors, we also lift up the experiences of the world’s refugees who still wander in search of safety and freedom.

Introduction

The Seder Plate

We place a Seder Plate at our table as a reminder to discuss certain aspects of the Passover story. Each item has its own significance.

Maror – The bitter herb. This symbolizes the harshness of lives of the Jews in Egypt.

Charoset – A delicious mix of sweet wine, apples, cinnamon and nuts that resembles the mortar used as bricks of the many buildings the Jewish slaves built in Egypt

Karpas – A green vegetable, usually parsley, is a reminder of the green sprouting up all around us during spring and is used to dip into the saltwater

Zeroah – A roasted lamb or shank bone symbolizing the sacrifice made at the great temple on Passover (The Paschal Lamb)

Beitzah – The egg symbolizes a different holiday offering that was brought to the temple. Since eggs are the first item offered to a mourner after a funeral, some say it also evokes a sense of mourning for the destruction of the temple.

Orange - The orange on the seder plate has come to symbolize full inclusion in modern day Judaism: not only for women, but also for people with disabilities, intermarried couples, and the LGBT Community.

Matzah

Matzah is the unleavened bread we eat to remember that when the jews fled Egypt, they didn’t even have time to let the dough rise on their bread. We commemorate this by removing all bread and bread products from our home during Passover.

Elijah’s Cup

The fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the Seder. It is left untouched in honor of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. During the Seder dinner, biblical verses are read while the door is briefly opened to welcome Elijah. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but also calls to mind their future redemption when Elijah and the Messiah shall appear.

Miriam’s Cup

Another relatively new Passover tradition is that of Miriam’s cup. The cup is filled with water and placed next to Elijah’s cup. Miriam was the sister of Moses and a prophetess in her own right. After the exodus when the Israelites are wandering through the desert, just as Hashem gave them Manna to eat, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam and it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’. The tradition of Miriam’s cup is meant to honor Miriam’s role in the story of the Jewish people and the spirit of all women, who nurture their families just as Miriam helped sustain the Israelites.

Introduction
Source : http://elmad.pardes.org/2016/04/the-pardes-companion-to-the-haggadah/
Pesach is a time of inclusion.

On seder night, there are two moments where we metaphorically open our doors and invite others in. One is at the opening of the Magid portion of the seder, when we say, “All who are hungry come and eat.” There is a beautiful message here: we were once slaves; poor and hungry, and we remember our redemption by sharing what we have with others.

The other, comes towards the end of the seder, when we have the custom of pouring a fifth cup of wine, which we claim is for Elijah the Prophet. This is a statement of faith, a statement that says that although we are a free people, our redemption is not yet complete, and we believe that it will come.

From the most downtrodden to the most celebrated, the message is clear: everyone is welcome and everyone is necessary. Why is it that we go out of our way to include all at our seder table? Perhaps it is because when we make room for others, we have the opportunity to make room for ourselves as well. In fact, the Mishnah (Pesahim 10:5) teaches us that:

בכל דור ודור חייב אדם לראות את עצמו כאילו הוא יצא ממצרים In every generation a person is obligated to see themselves as if they left Egypt

The seder presents us with the obligation of identifying with the generation that left Egypt and internalizing that experience. And through that internalization, we come to feel the redemption as if it was our own as well to - לראות את עצמו. Further, the reliving of the story of the Exodus affords us the opportunity see one’s true self. It is only when we are able to see ourselves clearly, that we are able to be redeemed. But perhaps the only way we are able to see ourselves, is when we are truly able to see those around us. This message of inclusion is Pardes’s message too, and our hope is that this Haggadah Companion which offers something for everyone, will add new meaning to your seder and help bring the Jewish people a little closer together.

Introduction

Long ago at this season, our people set out on a journey.

On such a night as this, Israel went from degradation to joy.

We give thanks for the liberation of days gone by.

And we pray for all who are still bound.

God, may all who hunger come to rejoice in a new Passover.

Let all the human family sit together, drink the wine of deliverance, and eat the bread of freedom:

Freedom from bondage     and freedom from oppression

Freedom from hunger     and freedom from want

Freedom from hatred     and freedom from fear

Freedom to think     and freedom to speak

Freedom to teach     and freedom to learn

Freedom to love     and freedom to share

Freedom to hope     and freedom to rejoice

Soon, in our days     Amen.

Now in the presence of loved ones and friends, before us the symbols of festive rejoicing, we gather for our sacred celebration. With our elders and young ones, linking and bonding the past with the future, we heed once again the divine call to service. Living our story that is told for all peoples, whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold, we gather to observe Passover.

You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought you out of Egypt. You shall observe this day throughout the generations as a practice for all times.

We assemble in fulfillment of the mitzvah.

Remember the day on which you went forth from Egypt, from the house of slavery, and how G-d freed you with a mighty hand.

Kadesh
Source : Rabbi Alex Israel for http://elmad.pardes.org/2016/04/the-pardes-companion-to-the-haggadah/
The seder opens with kiddush (the sanctification over wine). This is certainly unremarkable after all, kiddush is the opening act of every shabbat and holiday meal. But kiddush – a ritual .sanctification of time – has an intimate and unique connection to Pesach’s central theme: freedom. How so?

As Israel was about to be released from slavery, God instituted a new calendar: “This month shall (mark for you the beginning of months; the first of the months of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2) Why is this the first mitzva (commandment) communicated to a free nation?

A slave’s time is not his own. He is at the beck and call of his master. Even when the slave has a pressing personal engagement, his taskmaster’s needs will take priority. In contrast, freedom is the control of our time. We determine what we do when we wake up in the morning; we prioritize our day. This is true for an individual, but also for a nation. God commands Israel to create a Jewish calendar because, as an independent nation, Israel should not march any more to an Egyptian rhythm, celebrating Egyptian months and holidays. Instead Israel must forge a Jewish calendar, with unique days of rest, celebration and memory. Controlling and crafting our time is the critical first act of freedom.

Kiddush says this out loud. We sanctify the day and define its meaning! We proclaim this day as significant, holy and meaningful. We fashion time, claim ownership of it, and fashion it as a potent .contact point with God, peoplehood and tradition. This is a quintessential act of Jewish freedom.

Today, we often feel short of time; that time controls us. Kadesh reminds us that true freedom and self-respect is to master and control time for ourselves, to shape our life in accordance with our values.

Rabbi Alex Israel teaches Bible and is the Director of the Pardes Community Education Program and the Pardes Summer Program

Kadesh

The Shehecheyanu is a prayer that Jews have been saying for over 2000 years to mark special occasions. Tonight, all of us here together is special occasion. Whether Jewish or not, we have come here under a shared belief that everyone is entitled to be free. We all believe that everyone is entitled to certain inalienable rights. We all believe that we must treat our brothers and sisters with common decency. That is special and meaningful.

To mark this special and meaningful occasion, we all join together in the words of the Shehecheyanu:

בָרוּךְ אַתָה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְמָנוּ

וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶה

Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam,

shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are you, Adonai, sovereign of all worlds, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.

Kadesh
Source : The New American Haggadah

The Passover seder is conducted in an orderly fashion, with each ritual performed at a certain time, in a certain way, according to thousands of years of tradition. This is surprising, as the Jewish people do not have a history of being particularly well organized. Even God Himself often seems engaged in convolution, a phrase which here means “as if He has not quite followed His own plan.” If you look around your Passover table now, you will most certainly see the muddle and the mess of the world. There is likely a stain someplace on the tablecloth, or perhaps one of the glasses has a smudge. Soon things will be spilled. You might be sitting with people you do not know very well, or do not like very much, so your own emotional state is somewhat disordered. Nobody likes everything served at the Passover dinner, so there will be chaos within people’s palates, and the room is likely to be either too cold or too hot for someone, creating a chaos of discomfort. Perhaps there is someone who has not yet been seated, even as the seder is beginning, because they are “checking on the food,” a phrase which here means “sneaking a few bites” when they’re supposed to be participating in the ceremony.

This is as it should be. Passover celebrates freedom, and while the evening will proceed in a certain order, it is the muddle and the mess around the order that represent the freedom that everyone deserves, and that far too many people have been denied. With that in mind, why not excuse yourself, in an orderly fashion at some point in the ceremony, so that you might check on the food?

Urchatz
Source : original for the Haggadah

In washing our hands, we also think of those who don't get to share in the basic human right of abundant, clean water

of people deprived of water by the weather in Somalia, in India, in Texas

and those deprived of water by human action in places like Flint, Michigan

as well as those whose homes have been ravaged by wind and water in Colombia, in California, and here in New Jersey.

We wash our hands and accept our responsibilities to those threatened by the presence and absence of water

and pray that those with the human power to change things do not wash their hands of what the world needs them to correct.

Urchatz
Source : Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah, the Religious Action Center's Earth Justice Haggadah, and the SCJC

This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become alive.

In Hebrew, urchatz means “washing” or “cleansing.” In Aramaic, sister language to Hebrew, urchatz means “trusting.” As we wash each others’ hands, let us rejoice in this act of trust, while remembering the lack of trust between those in Flint, California and Cochabamba and those who supply and control their access to mayim chayim - living waters.

Pass the bowl & pitcher around the table, pouring a few drops of water onto your neighbor’s hands. Alternately, symbolize the uplifting of cleansed hands by raising hands into the air. 

Optional chant for handwashing: 

פֶלֶג אֱלֹהִים מָלֵא מַיִם / מַיִם חַיִּים 

Peleg elohim, malei mayyim /Mayyim chayyim

Fountain of God, full of water /waters of life!

—Rabbi Shefa Gold

Karpas
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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?

Karpas
Source : Aish/Pollock
Salt Water

Salt is unique in that it is bitter on its own, yet sweetens and brings out the taste of that which it is added to. For this reason, salt is the staple of suffering.

There are two perspectives of suffering – Purposeless Suffering and Purposeful Suffering.

Purposeless Suffering is suffering without reason, value, or an end-goal, and is therefore completely bitter. It is based on a keyhole view of life: “What is right in front of my eyes is all there is and there is no grander scheme.”

We squint in order to focus on something in the distance.

The Kabbalists explain that for this reason, the reaction of a person in pain is to close his eyes, since physical eyes don't see the spiritual purpose. Just as a person squints, which is a partial closing of one's eyes in order to focus on something in the physical distance, one may close his eyes completely in order to focus on something in the "spiritual distance.”

Purposeful Suffering is sweetened by understanding the greater context – that all is from God and for the best.

At the Seder, we dip the Karpas into saltwater in order to embody the concept of Purposeful Suffering – that we view any suffering in life as a surgery for our ultimate betterment rather than meaningless torture. (Additionally, we dip Karpas into salt water to represent the tears cried by the Jewish people while enslaved under Egyptian rule.)

We see these two sides of salt expressed by the Dead Sea. Due to its high salt concentration, the Dead Sea contains no life within it, yet has an incredible capacity to heal. On its own, the Dead Sea is "bitter," but when a person dips into the Dead Sea, he is "sweetened."

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 also dip Karpas to help us remember the sweetness of life. How the universe  works in cycles and the spring will always come back around providing us with new life. 

Yachatz
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up the meal… and win a prize.

We eat matzah in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, they had faced many false starts before finally being let go. So when the word of their freedom came, they took whatever dough they had and ran with it before it had the chance to rise, leaving it looking something like matzah.

Uncover and hold up the three pieces of matzah and say:

This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover with us. This year we are here; next year we will be in Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free.

These days, matzah is a special food and we look forward to eating it on Passover. Imagine eating only matzah, or being one of the countless people around the world who don’t have enough to eat.

What does the symbol of matzah say to us about oppression in the world, both people literally enslaved and the many ways in which each of us is held down by forces beyond our control? How does this resonate with events happening now?

Yachatz
Source : A Way In Jewish Mindfulness Program

A WAY IN Jewish Mindfulness Program

Haggadah Supplement

MATZAH

Bread of Affliction, Bread of Hope and Possibility

Ha lachma anya— This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.

As we go through the seder, the matzah will be transformed. It will cease to be the bread of affliction and it will become the bread of hope, courage, faith and possibility.

And it begins with a breaking.

YACHATZ: Breaking the Matzah

Reader:

Each person is invited to hold a piece of matzah, to mindfully feel its weight, notice its color, its shape and texture.

Resting the matzah on our open palms, we remember that the Passover story teaches that oppression and suffering result from fear and the unwillingness to open one’s heart to the pain and the experiences of others.

It was fear that brought about the enslavement of the Israelites and it was the hardening of the heart that kept the Israelites, the Egyptians and the Pharaoh in bondage. From fear and a hardened heart came violence, anguish and grief.

One person lifts the plate of three matzot. We all take a moment of silence and then call out the beginning of the prayer:

Ha lachma anya – This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt.

We return to silence and each raise up a piece of matzah.

We maintain silence while all, at the same time, break our matzot in half.

We listen to the sound of the bread of affliction cracking open.

As we hold the two pieces in our hands we set an intention to break open and soften our hearts:

All:

May our eyes be open to each other’s pain.

May our ears be open to each other’s cries.

May we live with greater awareness.

May we practice greater forgiveness.

And may we go forward as free people—able to respond to ourselves and each other with compassion, wonderment, appreciation and love.

We place the matzah back on the plate and continue the prayer:

Let all who are hungry come and eat.

Let all who are in need join us in this Festival of Liberation.

May each of us, may all of us, find our homes.

May each of us, may all of us, be free.

II. Later in the seder, after we have told the story, we say the blessing over the matzah and prepare to eat it for the first time. We take a moment and acknowledge our capacity for healing and love:

Reader:

Every time we make a decision not to harden our hearts to our own pain or to the pain of others, we step toward freedom.

Every time we are able to act with compassion rather than anger, we stop the flow of violence.

And each moment we find the strength and courage to see ourselves in each other, we open possibilities for healing and peace.

This is the bread that we bless and share.

All:

May all who are hungry come and eat.

May all who are in need join together in this Festival of Freedom.

A WAY IN Jewish Mindfulness Program weaves together Jewish tradition and Mindfulness practice. A 501c(3) charitable organization, A Way In is guided by Rabbi Yael Levy, whose approach to mindfulness grows out of her deep personal commitment to spiritual practice and a passionate believe in its potential to change not only individuals but the world.

For more information on A Way In: www.mishkan.org/a-way-in; www.Facebook.com/jmindfulness. Follow us on Twitter: @awayinms

Maggid - Beginning

The central imperative of the Seder is to tell the story. The Bible instructs: “ You shall tell your child on that day, saying: ‘This is because of what Adonai did for me when I came out of Egypt.' ” (Exodus 13:8) We relate the story of our ancestors to regain the memories as our own. Elie Weisel writes: God created man because He loves stories. We each have a story to tell — a story of enslavement, struggle, liberation. Be sure to tell your story at the Seder table, for the Passover is offered not as a one-time event, but as a model for human experience in all generations.

Ha lachma anya d’achaloo avhatana b’ara d’meetzrayeem. Kol dichfeen yay-tay vi’yachool, kol deetzreech yay-tay viyeesfsach. Hashata hach. Li’shana ha-ba-aa bi’arah di’yeesrael. Hashata av’day, li’shana ha-ba a bi’nay choreen.

This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need, come and celebrate Passover. Today, we are here. Next year, in the land of Israel. Today, we are slaves. Next year, we will be free.

Written in Aramaic, this statement begins the narration of the Seder by inviting the hungry to our table. Aramaic, Jewish legend has it, is the one language which the angels do not understand. Why then is Ha Lachma spoken in Aramaic? To teach us that where there is hunger, no one should rely upon the angels, no one should pray to the heavens for help. We know the language of the poor, for we were poor in the land of Egypt. We know that we are called to feed the poor and to call them to join our celebration of freedom.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.

The Haggadah doesn’t tell the story of Passover in a linear fashion. We don’t hear of Moses being found by the daughter of Pharaoh – actually, we don’t hear much of Moses at all. Instead, we get an impressionistic collection of songs, images, and stories of both the Exodus from Egypt and from Passover celebrations through the centuries. Some say that minimizing the role of Moses keeps us focused on the miracles God performed for us. Others insist that we keep the focus on the role that every member of the community has in bringing about positive change.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Jewish Women's Theatre
We honor those...

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Machar
[Resume taking turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Passover is the celebration of life. The story of the Jewish people is truly a triumph of life. Against the odds of history, the Jewish people have done more than survive - we have adapted creatively to each new time, each new place, from the birth of our people to the present day.

Even though death has pursued us relentlessly, time and time again, we have chosen to live. During the many centuries of the Jewish experience, memories of destruction are tempered by the knowledge that the world can also be good.

We have endured slavery and humiliation. We have also enjoyed freedom and power. Darkness has been balanced by light.

Our forebears traveled the Earth in search of the safety and liberty they knew must exist. We have learned to endure. We have learned to progress.

We are proud survivors. We celebrate our good fortune and seek the advancement of all.

Leader:

One of the customs of the seder is the asking of questions - questions about what the ritual actions of the seder mean. The Passover tradition involves the youngest children asking - actually singing - about these matters in a song we call "The Four Questions." 

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Arundhati Roy Quote, Design by Haggadot.com
Arundhati Roy on the "Voiceless"

-- Four Questions
Source : JewishBoston.com

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 Questions
Source : Temple Israel of Boston

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”?

-- Four Questions
Source : Repair the World
On Passover, the Jewish community asks ourselves, friends, family and neighbors, What makes this night different from all other nights?   Four Jewish racial justice leaders shared their answers. 

"As Jews, we remember and we cannot let injustice happen again in this country. This is our moment to bend the moral arc and to move racial justice work forward through advocacy, activism, and engagement." -- Tiffany Harris

"Our relative safety in American has allowed many of us to consider the fight for racial justice as struggle we can opt in and out of. But then are we fully honoring our traditional teaching of 'If I am only for myself, what am I?' Now is the moment for us to stand against injustice not only for ourselves, but for the most vulnerable among us." -- Chava Shervington 

"Because those in the grips of Pharoah's institutional oppression have been given a platform to see their greatness and be seen as great. Because the Passover seder tells us to remember and protect them, as it says: 'The night of (worthy) protection for all future generations... (Exodus, 12:42)'" -- Isaiah Rothstein

"Maybe it isn't different and you're just treating it that way. Or maybe it is. But you're insisting that it doesn't need to be treated differently." -- MaNishtana

-

Download the PDF Pyramid Cut Out for your seder table at http://rpr.world/passover-pyramid

-- Four Children
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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?

-- Four Children

At Passover, we are confronted with the stories of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. Facing this mirror of history, how do we answer their challenge? How do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?

What does the Activist Child ask?

“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”

Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”

What does the Skeptical Child ask?

“How can I solve problems of such enormity?”

Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she is capable of doing. As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

What does the Indifferent Child say?

“It’s not my responsibility.”

Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And the Uninformed Child who does not know how to ask…

Prompt her to see herself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy. As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

At this season of liberation, join us in working for the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice.

-- Four Children
Source : The New American Haggadah

Some scholars believe there are four kinds of parents as well.

The Wise Parent is an utter bore. “Listen closely, because you are younger than I am,” says the Wise Parent, “and I will go on and on about Jewish history, based on some foggy memories of my own religious upbringing, as well as an article in a Jewish journal I have recently skimmed.” The Wise Parent must be faced with a small smile of dim interest.

The Wicked Parent tries to cram the story of our liberation into a set of narrow opinions about the world. “The Lord let us out of Egypt,” the Wicked Parent says, “which is why I support a bloodthirsty foreign policy and I’m tired of certain types of people causing problems.” The Wicked Parent should be told with a firm voice: “With a strong hand God rescued the Jews from bondage, but it was my own clumsy hand that spilled hot soup in your lap.”

The Simple Parent does not grasp the concept of freedom. “There will be no macaroons until you eat all of your brisket,” says the Simple Parent at a dinner honoring the liberation of oppressed peoples. “Also, stop slouching at the table.” In answer to such statements, the Wise Child will roll his eyes in the direction of the ceiling and declare: “Let my people go.”

The Parent Who Is Unable to Inquire has had too much wine and should be excused from the table.

-- Exodus Story
-- Exodus Story
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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

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

-- Exodus Story

“And the Lord heard our voices.”
As it is written: “And God heard their wailing, and God remembered His covenant, His Abraham, His Isaac, His Jacob.”

God, who supposedly knows everything, needs to be reminded of a promise He made with our ancestors. This is disconcerting—a word which here means “cause for much argument among rabbis and peasants alike”—but not surprising. All of us have forgotten about promises we have made, even promises that are very important to us, and that are still very important to the people to whom we’ve promised them. These people may be wailing right this very minute, hoping that we remember whatever it is that we promised. Perhaps we promised to help them with something, but then the task was so dull that we put it aside. Perhaps we promised to be kind to them, but then we became interested in other people instead. Or perhaps we simply promised to keep thinking about them, but we have forgotten about these people until this very moment, because it is so much more interesting to think about ourselves and our own problems.

It is entirely possible that God, too would rather think of Himself, and His own problems. When we suspect this to be the case, Jewish tradition encourages us to wail, often in Hebrew. But we might also stop wailing for a moment and listen instead. We might think of the promises we have made and have not kept, or promises we ought to have made but didn’t, and while we’re thinking of this, we might hear the wailing of others, some of whom may be trapped beneath the floors of this very room.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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 made in the image of God. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them.

Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

These are the ten plagues which God brought down on the Egyptians:

Blood | dam | דָּם

Frogs | tzfardeiya |  צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ

Lice | kinim | כִּנִּים

Beasts | arov | עָרוֹב

Cattle disease | dever | דֶּֽבֶר

Boils | sh’chin | שְׁחִין

Hail | barad | בָּרָד

Locusts | arbeh | אַרְבֶּה

Darkness | choshech | חֹֽשֶׁךְ

Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot | מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת

The Egyptians needed ten plagues because after each one they were able to come up with excuses and explanations rather than change their behavior. Could we be making the same mistakes? Make up your own list. What are the plagues in your life? What are the plagues in our world today? What behaviors do we need to change to fix them? 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : JewishBoston.com with Rabbi Matthew Soffer

The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:  

Homelessness

In any given year, about 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness, about a third of them children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed the majority of major cities lack the capacity to shelter those in need and are forced to turn people away. We are reminded time and again in the Torah that the Exodus is a story about a wandering people, once suffering from enslavement, who, through God’s help, eventually find their way to their homeland. As we inherit this story, we affirm our commitment to pursue an end to homelessness.

Hunger

About 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, 16 million of them children. While living in a world blessed with more than enough food to ensure all of God’s children are well nourished, on Passover we declare, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” These are not empty words, but rather a heartfelt and age-old prayer to end the man-made plague of hunger.

Inequality

Access to affordable housing, quality health care, nutritious food and quality education is far from equal. The disparity between the privileged and the poor is growing, with opportunities for upward mobility still gravely limited. Maimonides taught, “Everyone in the house of Israel is obligated to study Torah, regardless of whether one is rich or poor, physically able or with a physical disability.” Unequal access to basic human needs, based on one’s real or perceived identity, like race, gender or disability, is a plague, antithetical to the inclusive spirit of the Jewish tradition.

Greed

In the Talmud, the sage Ben Zoma asks: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with one’s lot.” These teachings evidence what we know in our conscience—a human propensity to desire more than we need, to want what is not ours and, at times, to allow this inclination to conquer us, leading to sin. Passover urges us against the plague of greed, toward an attitude of gratitude.

Discrimination and hatred

The Jewish people, as quintessential victims of hatred and discrimination, are especially sensitized to this plague in our own day and age. Today, half a century after the civil rights movement in the United States, we still are far from the actualization of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated in Washington, D.C., a vision rooted in the message of our prophets. On Passover, we affirm our own identity as the once oppressed, and we refuse to stand idly by amid the plagues of discrimination and hatred.

Silence amid violence

Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. Each year, more than 108,000 Americans are shot intentionally or unintentionally in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidental shootings and by police intervention. One in five children has seen someone get shot. We do not adequately address violence in our society, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, even though it happens every day within our own communities.

Environmental destruction

Humans actively destroy the environment through various forms of pollution, wastefulness, deforestation and widespread apathy toward improving our behaviors and detrimental civic policies. Rabbi Nachman of Brezlav taught, “If you believe you can destroy, you must believe you can repair.” Our precious world is in need of repair, now more than ever.

Stigma of mental illness

One in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. Even more alarming, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minority communities are the least likely to search for or have access to mental health resources. Social stigma toward those with mental illness is a widespread plague. Historically, people with mental health issues have suffered from severe discrimination and brutality, yet our society is increasingly equipped with the knowledge and resources to alleviate the plague of social stigma and offer critical support.

Ignoring refugees

We are living through the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust. On this day, we remember that “we were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and God liberated us for a reason: to love the stranger as ourselves. With the memory of generations upon generations of our ancestors living as refugees, we commit ourselves to safely and lovingly opening our hearts and our doors to all peace-loving refugees.

Powerlessness

When faced with these modern plagues, how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change? How often do we find ourselves powerless to transform the world as it is into the world as we know it should be, overflowing with justice and peace?

Written in collaboration with Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Baltimore Social Justice Seder

Leader:
God brought ten plagues upon the Egyptian people as part of the Israelites’ journey to freedom. Tonight we read ten modern plagues that result from unfair, inequitable, and excessive practices in the criminal justice system. As we read each plague we remove a drop of wine from our glasses to symbolize our anguish at the suffering these plagues have caused.

Recite together:

 The concentration of police drug enforcement resources in poor communities of color

 The forfeiture laws and grant programs that incentivize making mass numbers of drug arrests

 Racial discrimination in conviction rates for drug offenses

 Racial discrimination in the length of sentences handed down for drug offenses

 Minimum sentencing rules that are overly punitive and tie the hands of judges

 The denial of parole to every prisoner serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole in Maryland

 The denial of civil rights, such as employment, education, housing, public benefits, and jury service to individuals with criminal records

 The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine

 The garnishing of up to 100% of wages to pay back fines, fees and costs that are a condition of probation or parole

 The concentration of police resources on the war on drugs, which creates more crime than it prevents

1. The concentration of police drug enforcement resources in poor communities of color

About 9% of Marylanders violate drug laws each month, and people of all races engage in this illegal activity at similar rates. With such a large population of offenders to choose from, police have incredible discretion in deciding which neighborhoods and people to target. The police have chosen to direct their resources at impoverished communities of color, and to overlook suburban neighborhoods. It has become common for the police to use SWAT teams and militarized tactics in minority communities, while their use is rare in the affluent white neighborhoods where they would likely spur a political backlash. Beyond targeting African American communities, the police also disproportionately target African Americans within predominantly white environments. One study in Baltimore found that while only 21% of drivers on I-95 are African American, they represented 70% of those stopped and searched for drugs.xiii What made this even more shocking was the finding that whites were more likely than African Americans to be carrying illegal drugs in their vehicles. The effect of the disproportionate concentration of police resources is that while African Americans use drugs at the same rate as whites, they are more than twice as likely to be arrested for a drug offense. This disproportionate targeting of African Americans represents a cornerstone of our new system of racial control.

2. The forfeiture laws and grant programs that incentivize making mass numbers of drug arrests

The federal government has created powerful financial incentives for local police departments to focus their resources on arresting people for low-level non-violent drug offenses. The government provides an estimated $153 of funding to local police departments for each drug arrest, and the Pentagon further provides military equipment in proportion to the number of arrests.xiv As a further inducement to increase drug arrests, the federal government has authorized local police departments to use the cash and assets connected with illegal drug activity to supplement their budgets.

3. Racial discrimination in conviction rates for drug offenses

Prosecutors have incredible discretion over the fate of criminal defendants. They decide whether to try or dismiss a case, what charges to bring, what plea deal to offer, and even whether to transfer a case to the federal system where the penalties are more severe. Studies have regularly shown that prosecutors use this discretion to the detriment of African American defendants. One study concluded that at nearly every stage of pretrial negotiation, African Americans were less successful than similarly situated whites at getting charges reduced to misdemeanors or infractions.xv As a result, African Americans are three times as likely as whites to be incarcerated for a drug offense.xvi

4. Racial discrimination in the length of sentences handed down for drug offenses

The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently found that African American men face prison sentences that are nearly 20% longer than those of white men for similar crimes. Studies have further found that the sentencing disparities faced by African Americans are even greater for drug offenses than for violent crimes. One explanation is that when judges are faced with less serious offenders, they are more likely to allow non-legal factors, such as race, to influence their sentencing decisions.xvii

5. Minimum sentencing rules that are overly punitive and tie the hands of judges

The threat of mandatory minimum sentences empower prosecutors to extract guilty pleas from nearly all defendants. When cases do go to trial, mandatory minimums prevent judges from considering mitigating factors, such as the age or role of the defendant in the drug offense. Rather, judges are forced to deliver sentences that are far longer than would be the case if they were able to use their own discretion.

6. The denial of parole to every prisoner serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole in Maryland

Since 1995, Maryland’s governors have vetoed every decision by Maryland’s parole board to grant parole to eligible prisoners serving life sentences. Contrary to legislative intent and the expectations of judges, the sentence of life with the possibility of parole has become a de facto sentence of death in prison. At the same time, more than one in ten of those sentenced to life in prison in Maryland are teenagers, the people most in need of meaningful opportunities for release. Moreover, this is a rate that is higher than in all but two other states. Racial disparities characterize these sentences, with African Americans constituting 84% of juveniles serving life sentences, a rate that is tied with Alabama for the highest in the country.

7. The denial of civil rights, such as employment, education, housing, public benefits, and jury service to individuals with criminal records

Upon completing their formal sentence, individuals with felony convictions enter a new more permanent phase of punishment. Similar to the system of control during the Jim Crow era, highly disproportionate numbers of African Americans begin what has been termed an “internal exile.” They are permanently stripped of many of their basic civil rights, and prevented from reintegrating into the mainstream society and economy.

Across the country, employment and housing discrimination against individuals with criminal records is widely prevalent, with fewer than one in four employers saying that they would be willing to hire someone with a drug-related felony conviction.xix The U.S. government bars those with drug convictions from receiving federal student aid. Moreover, many states permanently bar individuals with felony convictions from receiving food stamps, cash assistance, and living in public housing. While Maryland restores these benefits after a period of time, those recently released from prison are often unable to access them at a time when they are most in need of support. Finally, Marylanders with felony convictions are automatically excluded from jury service, one of the basic rights of American democracy.

8. The sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine

Mandatory minimum sentences for the possession of crack cocaine are 18 times longer than those for the same weight of powder cocaine. While this disparity has been reduced from 100:1 in 2010, the presence of any disparity disproportionately discriminates against African Americans. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, African American constitute 79% those convicted of crack cocaine offenses and 28% of those convicted of powder cocaine offenses. At the same time, these numbers also represent racially discriminatory arrest and conviction rates, with African Americans constituting only 38% of crack cocaine users and 15% of powder cocaine users. The disparate treatment in sentencing is difficult to justify on non- racial grounds. The key difference between the two substances is that powder cocaine becomes crack after combining it with baking soda and heat. Research has shown both powder and crack cocaine to have an identical biological impact on the body.xx There are currently an estimated 2,700 individuals serving prison sentences under the discriminatory 100:1 sentencing guidelines, who would be free under the revised law.

9. The garnishing of up to 100% of wages to pay back fines, fees and costs that are a condition of probation or parole

Upon release from prison, returning citizens in Maryland often face a daunting numbers of fines, fees and costs related to their imprisonment. Returning citizens are billed to cover the cost of parole supervision, drug testing, treatment, community service programs, and some court proceedings. This is in addition to court mandated restitution and child support payments. With two-thirds of returning citizens unemployed, most are unable to pay these charges and thus face mounting nonpayment penalties. These debts then lead to civil judgments, negative credit reports, and wage garnishment. As a result, individuals caught in this impossible situation are often forced into the underground economy. Moreover, while debtor’s prisons are illegal, Maryland threatens to revoke parole for individuals that fail to make court payments, creating added stress that can prevent successful reentry into society.

10. The concentration of police resources on the war on drugs, which creates more crime than it prevents

Research shows that in many communities mass incarceration has reached a tipping point, where so many people have been removed as to undermine the social cohesion that helps maintain safety. The war on drugs rips apart community networks, destabilizes families, and locks people out of the mainstream economy. This has made it a leading cause of poverty, joblessness, and crime.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Machar

Leader:
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.

Leader:

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.

Everyone:

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.

Leader:

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:

Hunger
War
Tyranny
Greed
Bigotry
Injustice
Poverty
Ignorance
Pollution of the Earth Indifference to Suffering

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

-- Ten Plagues
Source : The New American Haggadah

It is one of the peculiarities of the Passover story that God sends ten plagues down on all of the Egyptians, not just the ones who were in favor of slavery. It is likely that there were a fair number of Egyptians who said, “I see no reason to detain these Hebrew slaves any longer than we already have,” and who nevertheless found themselves drinking blood instead of water. By the time frogs had hopped through the land, and gnats and flies had stung everything in sight, there were doubtless more Egyptians who said, “You know, I would rather do without slaves than have all of these terrible pests around,” and who still suffered from pestilence and boils. By the time the threats came from the sky—hail, locusts, and darkness—there couldn’t have been too many Egyptians who were in favor of keeping the Jews in bondage, except the stubborn Pharaoh, who only changed his mind when his own son, who by this point was probably an abolitionist—a word which here means “in favor of ending slavery if only because he was sick of plagues”—was slaughtered as part of the tenth and final plague. It is likely that the entire Egyptian nation disagreed with the Pharaoh by that time, and yet it was the entire nation that was punished.

This is not fair, and Jewish tradition has us spill ten drops from the beverage of our choice when naming the plagues, in order to remember the suffering of the Egyptians. Of course, the pain and terror of ten plagues cannot compare with a glass that is slightly less full than it was originally, but tradition dictates that these ten drops are symbolic, a word which here means “a way of expressing how sorry we are about something that happened a long time ago and was not directly our fault.” This symbolism may come in handy, so that some night at dinner you can say, “When I spilled grape juice all over your beautiful white tablecloth, it was not an accident, but my way of apologizing for various terrible things that have happened to innocent people.”

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

As all good term papers do, we start with the main idea:

ּ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. Even if we were all wise, knowledgeable scholars and Torah experts, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt.

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

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, JewishBoston.com

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 : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.

In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.

The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”

---

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.

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 the second glass of wine!

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
By Rabbi & Dina Brewer

Dayeinu is a highly counter-intuitive hymn.

Among its fourteen stanzas it proclaims that:

Had God taken our ancestors out of Egypt, but not rescued them at the Red Sea, it would have been sufficient.

And had God rescued them at the Red Sea, but not nourished them in the dessert, it would have been sufficient.

And had God brought them to Sinai, but not given them the Torah, it would have been sufficient.

These statements make no sense. If God liberated our ancestors from Egypt only to allow them to drown in the Red Sea, would that really have been cause for celebration? And what would have been the point of leading them out to the dessert, only have them starve? Or to bring them all the way to Sinai, only to withhold the Torah? Are any of these elements on their own really sufficient? Is the hymn just hyperbole?

Perhaps not. The reason it seems senseless to us is because we know how the story ends. We know that our ancestors have to end up in the Promised Land where they build God’s Temple. And so anything short of that is a failure.

But imagine if we didn’t know how the story was going to end. Then each separate episode would have been cause for thanksgiving. The Exodus would be a cause for celebration, because the Red Sea had yet to present itself as a terrifying obstacle. The overwhelming relief of being rescued from the Red Sea would be sufficient, because the harsh dessert was not yet a reality. And coming to Sinai is a blessing in itself, for who could possible anticipate the Giving of the Torah?

Dayeinu is an ingenious hymn because, by placing us squarely in the story, it allows us to experience what our ancestor’s would have felt as the events unfolded in real time.

It does for liturgy what Faulkner, Joyce, and Wolf did for literature.

Dayeinu invites us to be grateful for the blessings in our lives, as and when they unfold. We have no way of knowing how our story is going to end, much less what next year, or even tomorrow, will look like. All we have is here and now. Dayeinu teaches us to live in the moment by cherishing each of life's blessings as we experience them.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Dayenu

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.
-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Jeffrey Goldberg in The New American Haggadah
Who can say we’ve actually left? “Wherever you live, it is probably Egypt,” Michael Walzer wrote. Do you live in a place where some people work two and three jobs to feed their children, and others don’t even have a single, poorly paid job? Do you live in a community in which the rich are fabulously rich, and the poor humiliated and desperate? Do you live among people who worship the golden calves of obsessive acquisitiveness, among people whose children are blessed by material abundance and cursed by spiritual impoverishment? Do you live in a place in which some people are more equal than others? In America, the unemployment rate for African-Americans is nearly twice as high as it is for whites. Black people are five times as likely to be incarcerated as whites. Infant mortality in the black community is twice as high as it is among whites. America is a golden land, absolutely, and for Jews, it has been an ark of refuge. But is has not yet fulfilled its promise. The same is true for that other Promised Land. Jewish citizens of Israel have median household incomes almost double that of Arab citizens and an infant mortality rate less than half that of Arabs. Israel represents the greatest miracle in Jewish life in two thousand years--and its achievements are stupendous (and not merely in comparison to its dysfunctional neighbors)--and yet its promise is also unfulfilled. The seder marks the flight from the humiliation of slavery to the grandeur of freedom, but not everyone has come on this journey. It is impossible to love the stranger as much as we love our own king, but aren’t we still commanded to bring everyone out of Egypt?
-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
From singing Dayenu we learn to celebrate each landmark on our people's journey. Yet we must never confuse these way stations with the goal. Because it is not yet Dayenu. There is still so much to do in our work of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

When governments end the escalating production of devastating weapons, secure in the knowledge that they will not be necessary, Dayenu.

When all women and men are allowed to make their own decisions on matters regarding their own bodies and personal relationships without discrimination or legal consequences, Dayenu.

When children grow up in freedom, without hunger, and with the love and support they need to realize their full potential, Dayenu.

When the air, water, fellow creatures and beautiful world are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all and given priority over development for the sake of profit, Dayenu.

When people of all ages, sexes, races, religions, sexual orientations, cultures and nations respect and appreciate one another, Dayenu.

When each person can say, "This year, I worked as hard as I could toward improving the world so that all people can experience the joy and freedom I feel sitting here tonight at the seder table," Dayenu v'lo Dayenu - It will and will not be enough.

Rachtzah
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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.

Rachtzah
Source : The Other Side of the Sea: T'ruah's Haggadah on Fighting Modern Slavery
Our hands were touched by this water earlier during tonight's seder, but this time is different. This is a deeper step than that. This act of washing our hands is accompanied by a blessing, for in this moment we feel our People's story more viscerally, having just retold it during Maggid. Now, having re-experienced the majesty of the Jewish journey from degradation to dignity, we raise our hands in holiness, remembering once again that our liberation is bound up in everyone else's. Each step we take together with others towards liberation is blessing, and so we recite: 

                                                         --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.

Rachtzah

Sam Solomon 3-12-15

The symbols of Passover

The Symbols of Passover The bone that represents the sacrifice.  It is weird to me that we sacrifice a lamb.  How can we sacrifice such a sweet and innocent animal?

A hard boiled egg? A hard boiled egg? how can something so small have so much meaning?

We eat bitter herbs to remind us of our ancestors work as slaves.  But why do we eat food that many love? I love the bitter herbs, the horseradish, hmm!

The haroset! the haroset represents the mortar and brick made by the Jews during the Jewish exodus from Egypt, I don’t completely understand how this symbolizes mortar and brick, I think it is an excuse to drink wine, and eat good snacks!

Rachtzah

In addition to the cup of wine for Elijah, many people today include a cup of water for Miriam, as we do tonight.

Miriam is Moses's older sister and a prophetess in her own right. As we, the Israelites are freed from bondage in Egypt, Miriam leads the women in dance after  crossing the Sea of Reeds. Her chant is recorded in the Torah, “Sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously. Horse and driver has he hurled into the sea” (Exodus 15:21).

Later, during the wanderings in the desert, a well of water follows Miriam.  In the words of Louis Ginzberg “Water…did not abandon them in all their forty years’ wandering, but accompanied them on all their marches. G-d wrought this great miracle for the merits of the prophetess Miriam, wherefore also it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’” ( The Legends of the Jews Vol.3).

The tradition of Miriam’s cup stems from this legend and acknowledges all the ways, physically and spiritually, that Miriam supports her people. It honors the spirit of all women, who nurture their families and communities. Now we will read Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's reflections on Miriam and other women in the Passover story: 

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”1 In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.

There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she prophesied… “my mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel.” When [Moses] was born the whole house… filled with light[.] [Miriam’s] father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, “My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.” But when they threw [Moses] into the river her father tapped her on the head saying, “Daughter, where is your prophecy?” So it is written, “And [Miriam] stood afar off to know what would be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2

Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3

But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

1 Genesis 1:2
2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a
3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993, she is known as a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers, and separation between church and state.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt is a rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.. She is co-creator of two nationally recognized community engagement projects—MakomDC and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : JewishBoston.com

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.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : The New American Haggadah

It is altogether proper that matzah is called the bread of affliction, because it has been afflicted more than any other foodstuff on earth. It is born in a searing-hot oven and then completely ignored for fifty-one weeks of the year while people walk around shamelessly eating leavened bread and crackers. Then, Passover rolls around, and it is smeared with various substances, ground up into balls, and, in the morning, fried up into a counterfeit version of French toast. Everyone eats it and nobody likes it, and there’s always one last box that sits untouched in a cupboard for months afterward, lonely, broken, and utterly unloved.

Of course it is practically impossible for free and fortunate people such as ourselves to envision a life of slavery, but as an exercise in imagining our ancestors, place a large square of matzah in your mouth and eat it. Listen to the cacophonous crunches in your ears like the blows of the slavedriver’s whip. Feel the searing dryness in your mouth like the thirst of the Hebrew slaves for freedom. And then, with your mouth full of matzah, try to say the Shema, and watch the particles of oppression scatter across the table. Slavery spreads like a spray of crumbs, and it is very difficult to rid ourselves of slavery’s great moral shame, which is why, even thousands of years after the Exodus, there are so many people enslaved, and why, even weeks after Passover, there are so many matzah crumbs in the house.

Maror
Source : JewishBoston.com

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.

Maror
Source : Earth Justice Seder

The bitter herbs serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the grocery store, where does your food come from? Who picked the sugar cane for your cookie, or the coffee bean for your morning coffee? We are reminded that people still face the bitterness of oppression, in many forms. 

Together, we recite: 

ָבּרוּךְ ַאָתה יי ֱאלֹ ֵהינוּ ֶמֶלךְ ָהעוָֹלם, ֲא ֶשר ִקְד ָשנוּ ְבּ ִמ ְצווָֹתיו, ְו ִצָוּנוּ ַעל ֲאִכיַלת ָמרוֹר

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror. 

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with
Your commandments and ordained that we should eat bitter herbs. 

{ GREENING TIP }  Start a garden in your community and use the produce for synagogue gatherings or donate it to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. 

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 .

Koreich
Source : JewishBoston.com

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.

Koreich
Source : Earth Justice Seder

The great sage Hillel provided us with the tradition of constructing the Hillel sandwich, combining the bitterness of the maror with the sweetness of the charoset between the fortitude of the two pieces of matzah--the symbol of freedom. Through this ritual, we think about mortar and brick. We think of the Israelites traveling through the desert with no homes, no place to land and build up their strong communities, and only the matzah as a reminder of their freedom. It is not until they came to the biblical Promised Land that they experienced the sweetness of their redemption.

We sit tonight in a place of both freedom and comfort, while we remember the bitterness of the hardships of our ancestors. But what about those who cannot foresee their own redemption from the impending impacts of climate change, those who literally do not have the infrastructure that the mortar and brick of redemption affords? There are people all over the world on the edges of shorelines which are slowly slipping away, whose homes cannot withstand the rising waters and violent winds of extreme weather caused by climate change. Already over 22 million people a year are being displaced from their homes due to natural disasters (Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, 2014).

Tonight, as we eat this sandwich, let us remember the privilege of our infrastructure and the freedom and comfort that our homes provide us. The bitterness of the salty ocean waters continues to destroy many people's homes, for many a symbol of sweetness and freedom. Without proper adaptation and mitigation, people will continue to lose their homes. They will continue to be wandering, without a strong community or place they can call home.

{ GREENING TIP }
The world’s poor are being hit hardest by climate change. Learn more: (ActionAidUSA.org > What We Do > Climate Change)

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 .

Koreich
Source : Rav Shai Cherry
There have been many suggestions as to Judaism's most fundamental concept.  Here's my candidate:  In each and every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim.

Rav Kook says each of us took something from that experience that the world needs before it can be fully redeemed.  Our father Abraham knew well how to argue with God, but he didn't argue when told his descendants would be slaves for 400 years.  We needed to live through the affliction, and come out onh the other side, in order to empower others to do the same.  We remind ourselves, each year, of our history and our responsibility. 

We are commanded not to oppress the alien in our midst.  That alone requires much intention.  But, like God and our neighbor, the Torah commands we love the alien, the stranger, the undocumented farmworker or nanny.  Why?  Because we were aliens in the Land of Mitzrayim.  The Torah is explicit:  our experience in Egypt demand us to empathize with those who are in similar states of vulnerability.  That's our contribution to redemption.

Shulchan Oreich
Source : JewishBoston.com

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!

Shulchan Oreich
At a traditional seder, there is a cup of wine left on the table for the prophet Elijah. Toward the end of the night, the door is opened for Elijah, symbolizing that all are welcome at the seder, all can take refuge here.

In this spirit, consider symbolically setting aside a table setting or opening the door to the 60 million refugees and displaced people around the world still waiting to be free — for all those who deserve to be welcomed in not as strangers but as fellow human beings.

Tzafun
Source : Original

... and now we're back for Round Two.

Remember that matzah that we split a while back? This is where we eat the other half.

Often, the grownups in a family hide that half of the matzah, and the children have to find it and ransom it back to them. After consulting with the youngest member of the family, we're foregoing that. (Unless that's been overruled, in which case we just need to forget that we read that last sentence.)

The word for that half of the matzah, afikoman, is actually from the Greek for "that which comes after" or "dessert." It's officially the last thing that we eat at the Seder, other than the two remaining cups of wine.

So no more of the desserts after this. We'll break this half of the matzah up, pass it around, and eat it, then get back to the praying and singing.

Tzafun
Source : JewishBoston.com

Afikomen is actually a Greek word. Usually said to mean dessert, it actually refers to the end of the entertainment. Hopefully, we will still have some more! 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.

Tzafun
Source : The New American Haggadah

The afikoman is the hostage of the Passover seder, having been ripped from its neighboring matzah, imprisoned in an obscure part of the house, and then traded fro some ransom just so it can be split up and devoured. Decent people will not participate in this saga of kidnapping and blackmail but rather fight against these foul crimes by excusing themselves from the table during the meal to disseminate counterfeit afikomans, a phrase which here means “hiding similar pieces of matzah all over the house.” Soon everyone will have found an afikoman, and negotiations will break down in a flurry of accusations and crumbs. Another word for this state of affairs is “freedom.”​

Bareich
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Refill everyone’s wine glass.

We now say grace after the meal, thanking God for the food we’ve eaten. On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to God, culminating with drinking our third glass of wine for the evening:

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, whose goodness sustains the world. You are the origin of love and compassion, the source of bread for all. Thanks to You, we need never lack for food; You provide food enough for everyone. We praise God, source of food for everyone.

As it says in the Torah: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give praise to your God who has given you this good earth. We praise God for the earth and for its sustenance.

Renew our spiritual center in our time. We praise God, who centers us.

May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen.

The Third Glass of Wine

The blessing over the meal is immediately followed by another blessing over the wine:

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 the third glass of wine!

Bareich
by HIAS
Source : HIAS Seder Supplement
I will redeem you... ...

Emboldened to welcome refugees into our communities, may we remember that true welcome is not completed upon a person’s safe arrival in our country but in all the ways we help people to rebuild their lives. As God provided for our needs on the long journey from slavery to the Promised Land, let us give the refugees in our communities the tools they need not just to survive but to thrive: safe homes to settle into, quality education for their children, English language tutoring, access to jobs, and all of the things we would want for ourselves and our families. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, who gives us the opportunity to be your partner in ongoing redemption.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Blessed are You, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. 

Bareich

Dancing in honor of the prophetess Miriam can follow the rituals for the prophet Elijah after the meal. 

Lift Miriam's cup and say:

Miriam's life is a contrast to the life of Elijah. Elijah was a hermit, who spent part of his life alone in the desert. He was a visionary and prophet, often very critical of the Jewish people, and focused on the world to come. On the other hand, Miriam lived among her people in the desert, constantly encouraging them throughout their long journey. Therefore, Elijah's cup is a symbol of future messianic redemption, while Miriam's cup is a symbol of hope and renewal in the present life. We must achieve balance in our own lives, not only preparing our souls for redemption, but rejuvenating our souls in the present. Thus, we need both Elijah's cup and Miriam's cup at our Seder table.

Bareich

It is difficult not to be jealous of Elijah, who for many years held the enviable job of prophet and who now is welcomed in any civilized home, ushered in through the door and served immediate refreshment. (Consider, in comparison, the sad case of Santa Claus, a figure from a more prominent and less interesting religion, who is forced to enter homes via the chimney and must bribe the residents with gifts if he expects any kindness before returning to his home in one of the least habitable regions of the globe.)

Like many prophets, Elijah is invisible and silent, so if you are one of the people asked to go open the door for him, rather than the people who stay behind at the table to “check on the wine,” you can think up the sort of conversation you might have with Elijah and reply out loud with statements such as “What a handsome vest, Elijah!” or “Elijah, it really seems like you’ve had more than enough wine for one evening,” or even “Certainly, Elijah, I’d love to take a ride in your automobile, just let me get my coat,” and soon everyone in the house will be rushing to the door in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him.

Hallel
Source : JewishBoston.com

Singing songs that praise God | hallel | הַלֵּל

This is the time set aside for singing. Some of us might sing traditional prayers from the Book of Psalms. Others take this moment for favorites like Chad Gadya & Who Knows One, which you can find in the appendix. To celebrate the theme of freedom, we might sing songs from the civil rights movement. Or perhaps your crazy Uncle Frank has some parody lyrics about Passover to the tunes from a musical. We’re at least three glasses of wine into the night, so just roll with it.

Fourth Glass of Wine

As we come to the end of the seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

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 the fourth and final glass of wine! 

Hallel
Source : JewishBoston.com

The Cup of Elijah

We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our seder.

In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people. At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was whisked away to heaven. Tradition holds that he will return in advance of messianic days to herald a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah at many joyous, hopeful Jewish occasions, such as a baby’s bris and the Passover seder.

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַנָּבִיא, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַתִּשְׁבִּיאֵלִיָּֽהוּ, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ,אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַגִּלְעָדִי

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽנוּ יָבוֹא אֵלֵֽינוּ

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

Eliyahu hanavi
Eliyahu hatishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi
Bimheirah b’yameinu, yavo eileinu
Im mashiach ben-David,
Im mashiach ben-David

Elijah the prophet, the returning, the man of Gilad:
return to us speedily,
in our days with the messiah,
son of David.

Nirtzah
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

Nirtzah
by HIAS
Source : HIAS Seder Supplement
I will take you to be my people... ...

When we rise up from our Seder tables, let us commit ourselves to stamping out xenophobia and hatred in every place that it persists. Echoing God’s words when God said, “I take you to be my people,” let us say to those who seek safety in our midst, “we take you to be our people.” May we see past difference and dividing lines and remember, instead, that we were all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. May we see welcoming the stranger at our doorstep not as a danger but as an opportunity – to provide safe harbor to those seeking refuge from oppression and tyranny, to enrich the fabric of our country and to live out our Jewish values in action. Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, who has created us all in Your image.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Blessed are You, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. 

Songs
Source : JewishBoston.com
Who knows one?

At some seders, people go around the table reading a question and the answers in one breath. Thirteen is hard!

Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows four?

I know four.

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows five?

I know five.

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows six?

I know six.

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows seven?

I know seven.

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eight?

I know eight.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows nine?

I know nine.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows ten?

I know ten.

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eleven?

I know eleven.

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows twelve?

I know twelve.

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows thirteen?

I know thirteen

Thirteen are the attributes of God

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Songs
Source : JewishBoston.com

Chad Gadya

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

דְזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

Chad gadya, chad gadya

Dizabin abah bitrei zuzei

Chad gadya, chad gadya.

One little goat, one little goat:

Which my father brought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The cat came and ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The dog came and bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The stick came and beat the dog

That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The fire came and burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The water came and extinguished the

Fire that burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The ox came and drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The butcher came and killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The angle of death came and slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The Holy One, Blessed Be He came and

Smote the angle of death who slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

Songs

Someone’s father purchases a goat, and this goat starts a cavalcade of anguish and gluttony, with animals, objects, people, and supernatural beings all dragged into the all-consuming whirlpool of the song. The entire universe changes, and it is all because of one goat, and it has been this way since the beginning of time, in every story that has ever been told. In the story of Passover, for example, if Moses had not been rescued from his basket in the reeds, the Jewish people might still be slaves in Egypt, so the infant Moses can be said to be a goat. If your parents had never met, then there might be an uglier, crueler person sitting at the Passover table, instead of your own charming self, so your parents are goats. Every person in the world, and every action each person takes, is a goat, accumulating cats and dogs and staffs and fires and all of the joy and terror that makes up the stuff of the universe. You are a goat, and when you wake up in the morning, that is a goat, and eating breakfast is a goat, and all the goats over the world are goating and goating and goating, all the time wondering if the goat they are and the goats they are goating are the right goat or the wrong goat, which is why the world often seems as stubborn as a goat, as ravenous as a goat, as loud as a goat, as grumpy as a goat, as quick and jumpy and frisky and soft and woolly and horny and taily as a goat—until the world itself seems to be a goat, made up of countless other goats, and watched over by some enormous, all-seeing goat who created all this goating in its image.