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We welcome everyone to our Virtual Family Freedom Seder! Some folks will stay for whole Seder, others will pop in and out as they can, and some others may join us later. No matter how long you are with us - or how much, or how little - you participate, we welcome you and are grateful to have you share this ritual with us! Let's start with introductions.
- Your name and pronoun (e.g. she/her, he/him, they/them)
- Who is joining with you
- Why you decided to join our Freedom Seder tonight
We gather on Passover to recall a moment of resistance and liberation in the history of the Jewish people. At the Seder we tell the story of the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago. Seder means “order” in Hebrew, which tells us that people all over the world tell the story in the same order on the very same evening. The special book that we read the Passover story from is called a “Haggadah”. This story is based on a section of the Bible called "Exodus" - some people believe everything really happened in the way the Bible says, other people believe some of it is true, and some of it is not. Other people may believe almost all of it is pretend. As we tell the story, you can think about what parts you think are true and what parts are just a good made up story. Whether we believe it really happened or not, it is an important part of history and Jewish culture and traditions. Telling stories are a good way to help us learn lessons and think about the world and people's actions.
We gather on Passover to recall a moment of resistance and liberation in the history of our people. The story of Exodus reminds us of the transformative power that our people wield when we confront oppression.The Passover story is about the relationship between the Jewish people of the Bible with God. Although each of us has our own beliefs and opinions about the existence and nature of God, we use the word “God" when telling this story, because it is consistent with Judaism, the tradition we honor today. We will also use some of the Hebrew blessings. Many people think about God in different ways - some do not believe in God at all, some believe in many Gods or Goddesses, others believe that God represents something. What does God mean to you, if anything? [ ask for volunteers to share what God means to them]
When we see the word God tonight, you can think of the word representing what it means to you. Or you can use a different word instead, like: The Universe, Goddess, Higher Power, Creator, Spirit, Allah, Source of Peace, Ancestral Spirits. Are there any other words you would like to use in place of God when you read tonight? Some of us might be using different words depending on who is reading, and that is okay! It is also okay to use the word God for tonight, even if you are not sure what you believe. [reader can share what they will saying for God if it is different]
Blessing one’s children originates in the Bible. On Shabbat, the Sabbath, and on holidays, parents lay their hands on the heads of each child and bless them. In the absence of a parent, children can be blessed by any loving adult who is with them. Let us bless all of the children in our midst - in our homes, in our lives, and in the world. As we bless them, we commit ourselves to the dream of a world where all children are free to go to school, are safe from violence, have loving adults in their lives, are free to express themselves and be who they are, and have the basic necessities they need in order to grow up to be their best selves.
For those adults with children with them right now, with the child's permission, please place your hands on the heads of a child. For the children with us - if you do not want someone touching your head - that's okay! They can place a hand on your shoulder, or on the air above your head, like a halo. Tell the grown-ups where you would like their hand to be for this blessing.
Next, grown ups, envision the world you want to create for future of children in your life and in the world.. Children, think about the world you would like to live in. As the grown ups consider what we want for the children's future, let us also reflect on the present and who this child is today in the world - their needs and interests and feelings. Let our children help ground us in the present. And let us be guided by the words of wisdom by Stacia Tausche who said: "We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today."
Now, grown ups let us read together and to the children: “May you be blessed and kept. May the light shine upon you and grant you peace.”
Children, now it's your turn. Check in with a grown up about where they would like you to place your hands on them - their head, shoulder, or over their head. Then, with your hand placed, think about what type of world you wish for the grown ups in your life. And say aloud together and to the grownups "May you be blessed and kept. May the light shine upon you and grant you peace.”
And together, let us all - grown ups and children - close this blessing by saying the Hebrew word for peace: Shalom.
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.
You’ll hear more about Maror, Charoset, and Karpas later in the Seder.
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. At Passover, we often dip these eggs in saltwater to symbolize this sadness.
Olives – In vegetarian homes, the traditional roasted lamb bone is sometimes replaced with olives, which represents the olive branch, an international symbol of peace.
These are traditional foods eaten during the Seder meal, but of course, our Seder plate can serve as the plate for all of us today. And some of us will eat traditional meals tonight, some of us will eat very nontraditional meals, and some others might not eat as part of the Seder at all.
But why is there an orange and a tomato on the seder plate? This is not traditional for Passover.
Tomato - This tomato brings our attention to the oppression and liberation of farmworkers who harvest fruits and vegetables here in the United States. And it reminds of us of our power to help create justice. On this night when we remember the Jewish journey from slavery to freedom, we remember numerous cases of modern slavery that exist. For example, the reported use of enslaved labor in Florida's tomato industry. There have been reports of workers also facing abusive working conditions, such as wage theft, harassment, exposure to dangerous pesticides, or poverty level wages that have not changed for more than 30 years.
But a transformation is underway. Since 1993, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a farmworker organization, has been organizing for justice in the fields. Together with other organizations, they have convinced 11 major corporations, such as McDonald’s and Trader Joe’s, to join the Fair Food Program, a historic partnership between workers, growers and corporations. We can work to help convince other businesses to join this program.
Orange - The orange on the Seder plate has come to symbolize full inclusion in modern day Judaism for those who were traditionally not seen as full participants or leaders in Jewish life and traditions, especially women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people. The common tale was that a man once said that women don’t belong leading aspects of worship in Judaism by saying “A woman on the bimah is like an orange on the Seder plate.” (The bimah is a podium where people stand to read from the “Torah”, as Jews call the Old Testament of the Bible.) - both things that don't belong. Feminists (people believing in gender equality) responded by celebrating the orange, by placing it in the center the Seder plate showing that since women belonged on the bima, so must an orange on the Seder plate. There was a simliar history to using orange to symbolize LGBTQ inclusion in Judasim. People place an orange on Seder plate to honor and symbolize the struggle for freedom faced by LGBTQ people. For those of us who are part of the LGBTQ community here at our Seder, it makes us feel good to be acknowledged and included, especially when we were not during many times of history, and still today in many places.
Now, we make our own customized Freedom Seder plate as a community for today's Seder. We'd like to invite those who brought an object, reading, or quote to the Seder to represent Freedom to share and explain why they chose it. Then, we can all metaphorically place it here on our Freedom Seder pate. If you did not bring an object, that's okay, we still would love to hear what freedom means to your family!
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 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. We'll talk more about matzah later in the Seder.
But for now, we will pass around the matzah so everyone can break off a piece to eat. Remembering when the Jews had to make due with whatever they could. Remembering the sacrifices that are made when we are pursuing freedom and justice.
Refugee and French Jewish orphans celebrate Passover together in 1947.
During this seder, we will drink four cups of wine (or grape juice). And we recall that the vine, which is always pruned as nothing else that bears fruit, has every branch cut away, leaving an old, gnarled stump. Yet, in the spring, as do all living things, it grows again. Thus we learn from the vine that what appears to be death is not an ending, but a resting and a regathering of strength for a new beginning. Let each of us remember our personal struggle for liberation and the struggle of others. There is life and hope even in what appears to be with out it. Let us remember that we must struggle to break out of our shackles, to free ourselves and to grow.
The First Cup of Wine
As we lift the first cup, we envision theUnited States – the “land of the free” – and a world - where everyone has a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of themselves and their families, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services (as asserted in Article 25 of the Declaration of Human Rights).
Those who wish can say the Hebrew Blessing over the wine:
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.]
As we wash our hands, we affirm our role in protecting ourselves and others.
As we prepare to wash our hands, we take for granted that this water entering our homes is clean, safe, and healthy. We must remember that many in the United States and around the world do not have access to clean water. One in ten people currently lack access to clean water. That’s nearly 1 billion people in the world without clean, safe drinking water. Almost 3.5 million people die every year because of inadequate water supply.
We particularly remember the people of Flint, Michigan many of whom still do not have safe water to drink with, cook, or wash. The families whose water was poisoned by the very people who were supposed to protect and serve them. But racism and greed won out and as a result, people were poisoned, and still, years later, so many remain without water in their homes. We pray that our hearts and our will will not harden in the face of unprecedented challenges facing the people of Flint and all who do not have access to clean water and soap, especially during this public health crisis. And as we wash our hands with this water, we pledge to use these hands to help others.
Everyone take a minute to go wasj their hands - once everyone has completed the hand washing, let us all symbolize the uplifting of cleansed hands by raising our hands into the air.
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. These greens, called Karpas in Hebrew, represent our natural environment. While we celebrate the rebirth that Spring brings, we also dip these greens into salt water before eating to represent the tears and sadness caused by suffering. Not only suffering of those enslaved, but also for the suffering of our Earth. We feel sadness when our environment is not protected from destruction.
If the Earth Could Speak, It Would Speak with Passion
By Rabbi Warren Stone, Temple Emanuel, Kensington, MD
"As you dip the beauty of greens into the water of tears, please hear
my cry. Can’t you see that I am slowly dying? My forests are being
clear cut, diminished. My diverse and wondrous creatures -- birds
of the sky and beasts of the fields -- small and large are threatened with extinction in your lifetimes. My splendid, colorful floral and fauna are diminishing in kind. My tropical places are disappearing before us, and my oceans are warming. Don’t you see that my climate is changing, bringing floods and heat, more extreme cycles of cold and warm, all affecting you and all our Creation? It doesn’t have to be! You, all of you, can make a difference in simple ways. You, all of you, can help reverse this sorrowful trend.
May these waters into which you dip the greens become healing waters to soothe and restore.
As you dip, quietly make this promise:
Yes, I can help protect our wondrous natural places. Yes, I can try to use fewer of our precious resources and to replant and sustain more. I can do my part to protect our forests, our oceans and waters. I can work to protect the survival of creatures of all kinds. Yes, I will seek new forms of sustainable energy in my home and in my work, turning toward the sun, the wind, the waters. I make this promise to strive to live gently upon this Earth of ours for the good of all coming generations.”
Now, before we taste the Karpas, let us each dip into the salt water while those who want to can recite the Hebrew blessing:
ָבּרוּךְ ַא ָתה יי, ֱאל ֵהינוּ, ֶמ ֶלךְ ָהעו ָלם, בּוֹ ֵרא ְפ ִרי ָה ֲא ָד ָמה.
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, borei p’ri haadamah
[Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.]
There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. Uncover and hold up the three pieces of matzah and say: This is the bread of poverty which the Jews ate in the land of Egypt.
Of course, there are many people today who still live in poverty and hunger, over 900 million people around the world face hunger because they do not have enough to eat. We see many of these people every day as we walk throughout the city. Let us think about how we treat these people, how would we want to be treated if we were hungry, if we could not afford food or shelter.
As we sit at our Seder and contemplate the Jewish people’s transition from slavery to freedom, let us hope for a time when all who are hungry will eat as free people:
Let all people gain autonomy over their sources of sustenance.
Let local farms flourish and local economies strengthen.
Let exploitation of natural resources cease so that the land may nourish its inhabitants.
Let communities bolster themselves against the destruction wrought by flood and drought.
Let our world leaders recognize food as a basic human right and implement policies and programs that put an end to world hunger.
The Passover Seder inspires us to take action and commit ourselves to working toward these and other sustainable changes. This year, hunger and malnutrition are still the greatest risks to good health around the world. Next year, may the bread of affliction be simply a symbol, and may all people enjoy the bread of plenty, the bread of freedom. What actions can we take to end poverty and homelessness? What can we do to help ensure all people of the United States, all people in the world, never have to go hungry?
We now break the middle matzah into two pieces, we wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and end of dinner it will be hidden. This piece is called the afikomen, literally "dessert." Taditionally after dinner, the children will hunt for the afikomen.
No, really. Pour your 2nd glass of wine (or grape juice).
Just as we remember all of the times throughout history when the nations of the world shut their doors on Jews fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands, so, too, do we remember with gratitude the bravery of those who took Jews in during their times of need. We aspire to stand on the right side of history as we ask our own government to take a leadership role in protecting refugees and other immigrants. May we find the bravery to open up our nation and our hearts to those who are in need.
Those familiar with the Hebrew blessing of the wine can recite it:
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.]
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.
This night is different from all other nights of the year, but why? Before the story is read, the youngest child who can read asks the “Four questions”. (Identify the youngest reader and ask if they wish to read these.)
1. On all other nights, we eat all kinds of bread and crackers. Why do we eat only matzah on Passover?
2. On all other nights, we eat many kinds of vegetables and herbs. Why do we eat bitter herbs, at our Seder?”
3. On all other nights, we don’t usually dip one food into another. At our Seder, we dip the parsley (or celery) in salt water and the bitter herbs in charoses. Why do we dip foods twice tonight?
4. On all other nights, we eat sitting up straight. Why can we lean on a pillow tonight?”
According to the story of Passover, God was mad at Pharaoh. Moses warned Pharaoh that if he didn’t let the Jewish slaves go free, bad things might happen to him. According to Jewish tradition, God was punishing Pharaoh. Others believe it was Pharaoh’s conscience, or bad karma, that was affecting him. Still others believe they were all scientifically explainable coincidences. Whatever caused the ten plagues, they were unbearable!
These horrible plagues that happened to convince the Pharoh to let the enslaved people leave, and iaccording to the story - it finally worked. Do we believe it's okay to use violence to get a ruler - like a Queen, a dictator, or a President to stop doing something horrible to people? Is it okay to use violence against the people who are governed by this ruler in order to get the ruler to stop? And what do we think about a God who would order the killing of children? What about the Jews who knew this was happening and yet did not try to stop it? What about rebellions - like Nat Turner's slave rebellion - is it okay to use violence to gain freedom from slavery?
This question is very relevant today - is nuclear war, drone attacks - or even economic sanctions ever justified? Is violent revolution or rebellion justified? If so, when and who should decide this? If we do not use violence, what do we do if the ruler continues to persecute people, even people in their own country. These are very challenging and important questions that we continue to wrestle with today.
The story of Exodus helps us remember that the journey towards freedom is often long and full of obstacles, but that it is only in freedom that we can reach our full humanity. Tonight though we tell about the Jewish struggle for freedom,we remember the enduring struggle for freedom for all humanity and know that no one is truly free until all of us are free.
This story also reminds us all people play a role in the fight for justice- they can choose to keep others oppressed, they can do nothing, or they can actively work for justice. As we tell the story of Exodus, try and identify the different roles. And then think about which roles you have played in your life - when have you been the oppressor? when have you been oppressed? when have you been the bystander and done nothing, and when have you spoken out and taken action? And tonight, and always, as we hear about the ways in which people have suffered and continue to suffer and struggle in the world, remember the words of Mr. Rogers and "look for the helpers." [show video clip].
Thinking about the ten plagues during the time of a global pandemic feels a little ironic. We are isolated in our houses, using computers to communicate to each other, as news about a virus changes moment to moment. Instead of the normal focus on the tragedies of others, we are going to take a moment to focus on our blessings. We are going to go around and everyone will share something that makes them grateful in this time of chaos.
Answering the 4 Questions
Now that we have heard the Passover story, we can answer the “Four Questions”. Will the oldest guest at the Seder read the questions and answers?
1. Why do we eat matzah on Passover? We eat matzah to remind us that the Jews had no time to bake their bread before leaving Egypt. The raw dough they put on their backs baked into matzah.
2. Why do we eat bitter herbs at the Seder? We eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitter life the slaves had while working for Pharaoh in Egypt.
3. Why do we dip foods twice at the Seder? We dip the parsley or other green vegetable into salt water to remind us that spring is here and new life is growing all around us. The salt water reminds us of the tears of the Jewish slaves. By dipping one in another, we remember the happy and the sad times together. We also link together the ancient celebrations of springtime with the retelling of this important story from our Biblical tradition. We dip, or rather combine, the apples and walnuts with wine to remind us of the clay and mortar that the slaves used to make the bricks for building the cities and palaces for Pharaoh.
4. Why do we lean on a pillow, or sit in comfort, at the Seder? We lean on a pillow to be comfortable and to remind us that once our ancestors were slaves, and now we are free! We are free to relax and to be comfortable, and we do not take that for granted!
The Hebrews’ Exodus from Egypt is a climactic moment in the Passover story. After suffering for generations as slaves in Egypt, the Hebrews cross the Sea and head into the desert with only matzah, the bread of affliction. Led by Miriam and Moses, the community seeks its freedom from slavery, oppression, and violence by wandering in the desert for forty years. Though this is a long struggle, the Hebrews’ persistence leads them to what was called “the Promised Land,” which is modern day Israel and Palestine.
However, forced migrations have occurred right here in our country. For example, in the 1860s, the United States government forcibly removed the Navajo Nation from its ancestral homeland in Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. The US Army forced 8,500 Navajo people to march over 400 miles in the freezing winter and burning summer to their internment in a forty square-mile area in New Mexico. This is now known as the Navajo Long Walk.
Over 200 people died after walking through the harsh winter for two months. Many more perished after arriving in the barren reservation, where disease, crop failure, and poor irrigation made survival almost impossible.
After the Navajo were recognized as a sovereign nation under the Treaty of 1868, they returned to their homeland on the Arizona- New Mexico border (one of very few tribes who were allowed to do so). Though their lands were greatly reduced by the US Army and government, the Navajo worked hard to take care of their livestock and rebuild their community. In 2005, a memorial center was built in New Mexico to commemorate and educate about this the event that almost wiped out the entire Navajo Nation.
Can you draw parallels between the Jewish Exodus from Egypt and the Navajo Long Walk? What are the similarities and differences between these histories? Consider the long-term effects of forced migration and persecution on contemporary Native communities?
As we observe Passover to commemorate the hardships of our ancestors, let us consider how we can act in solidarity with Native communities’ histories of persecution, forced migration, and genocide.
The motzi blessing marks the formal start of the Passover meal (and is traditionally recited said before all meals). Those who are familiar with the Hebrew can recite:
בְָּרוּךְ 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.]
The idea of “breaking bread together” is found in many faiths around the globe. It is interesting to note that the Last Supper of the Christian tradition was a Passover Seder which included the sharing of bread. Today, we share this unleavened bread to show our unity as a group of people who come together, regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs. We come together to celebrate the hope we share for a world of peace and freedom.
Now we say a special blessing over the matzah.
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.]
The bitter herbs, called maror in Hebrew, serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jews in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that the legacy of slavery in the U.S. still persists – through racism and particularly the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. And slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the store, where do your purchases come from? Who sewed together the clothes that you bought? Who picked the coffee beans for your morning coffee? We are reminded that people still face the bitterness of oppression, in many forms. As we bless the maror, let us reflect on how we can work to combat slavery and its legacy in all its modern day forms.
The blessing over the maror: ָ
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.]
Emory Douglas (born May 24, 1943) worked as the Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party from 1967 until the Party disbanded in the 1980s. His graphic art was featured in most issues of the newspaper The Black Panther (which had a peak circulation of 139,000 per week in 1970) As the art director, designer, and main illustrator for The Black Panther newspaper, he created images that became icons—representing black American struggles during the 1960s and 1970s.
And now, we can eat our meals and reconvene for afikomen, the final cups of wine and end blessings.
What's on your dinner table?
Remember that matzah that we split a while back, the Afikomen? This is where we find the other half and reunite it. When children have finished their meal they may look for the Afikomen. This is a Greek word for dessert and we cannot conclude the Seder until it is found and reunited with all the other Matzah pieces. Once it is found, we can complete the seder, and conclude with dessert! This Passover, instead of being able to have all children search for Afikomen themselves, we can watch Jake Gyllenhal...
Meanwhile, it’s time for the grown-ups to enjoy the 3rd cup of wine.
Although Miriam, a prophet and the sister of Moses, is never mentioned in the traditional Haggadah text, she is one of the central figures in the Exodus story. Miriam has long been associated with water – she watched over Moses when he was placed in the Nile River. After the Exodus when the Jews were wandering through the desert, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam so the Jews always had water to drink. 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 leaders.
You can pass Miriam's Cup around the table - literally or metaphorically -and everyone can add a little bit of water to it from their glass as a way to bring her story, the story of all women, back into the narrative of our history, as well as an expression of our commitment to listen to the voices of women –all women: trans women, Muslim women, young women, old women, women with disabilities, poor women, Latinix women, Asian women, Black women, Native women, Arab women, Jewish women, queer women, Jewish women, multiracial women, undocumented immigrant women, homeless women, incarcerated women, and all those whose voices have gone unheard and whose power will be unleashed.
This is the cup of Elijah. This is the cup of hope.
According to tradition, we open the door to permit the possible entry of the prophet Elijah, who is, according to tradition, the herald of the era of peace and freedom for all humanity. Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their Seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world. Yet the tasks of saving the world - once ascribed to prophets, messiahs and gods - must be taken up by us, by common people with shared goals. Working together for progressive change, we can bring about the improvement of the world, tiqqun ha-olam - for justice and for peace, we can and we must.
Now, as we pour our 4th cup of wine, let us now symbolically open the door of our Seder to invite in all people and all those in need to work together with us for a better world. Let us raise our fourth cup as we dedicate ourselves to tiqqun olam, the improvement of the world.
Everyone, raise your glasses:
"L' Tiqqun Olam!"
Now, we are coming to the end of our Seder. In this moment we lift up our voices in gratitude for this meal, for the community we have surrounded ourselves with, and the opportunity to do the work of justice. For vision, history and tradition, storytelling, this shared meal, and us, this community here today - the mixed multitude - gathered in the essential work of collective liberation, we give thanks.
Don't Hesitate by Mary Oliver
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
The traditional aspiration, "Next Year in Jerusalem," is our people's millennia-old hope for redemption.
Together, this year, may we help to achieve....
Peace in societies torn by war.
Freedom from bigotry and oppression.
Equality for minorities shunned by prejudice and hatred.
Respect for the aspirations and humanity of women and girls.
Acceptance for people persecuted for who they are or whom they love.
Sustenance for communities living in hunger.
A safe harbor for refugees and survivors of violence.
And the promise of dignity and human rights for all.
Together, with those around this Seder table and with our global family connected by our collective pursuit of justice, we pray: "Next year in a more just world." And through our actions from this Passover to the next, let us make this dream a reality.