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Source : Rabbi Chaim Potok (pg 19 of A Night to Remember) / MLK + 50 Interfaith Freedom Seder

A sense of where you come from as a pathway to who you are as a person and participant in a community.

I don’t think you can fully be a member of The Jewish people and, creatively, a member of humanity, without knowing who you yourself are... [To] achieve a deep sense of self is to know your own beginnings... (Rabbi Chaim Potok)

“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society.” (Dr. Martin Luther King)

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” (Audre Lorde)

Tonight will be an exploration of the Passover story as a framework to examine the ideals of freedom. Throughout the night, let us reflect on your own origins and how they apply to your sense of self and your idea of community.


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.


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 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.

Source : Adapted from Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee

Jewish celebrations usually include wine as a symbol of joy.
Wine sanctifies an occasion and makes it holy.
During the Passover Seder we drink four cups of wine, why four?

In the Book of Exodus, God convinced the Jews to leave Egypt using four statements:

I shall take you out
I shall rescue you
I shall redeem you
I shall bring you

In the theme of the Freedom Seder, we had created four themes that we follow throughout the night, signified by a new glass of wine. (1) Renewal, (2) Solidarity, (3) Action and (4) Freedom.

As we toast each cup of wine throughout this Seder, this time we put our faith in each other. 

Pour and raise your first cup of wine/grape juice. This cup is dedicated to the awakening of spring, the renewal of our world and the renewal of ourselves. 

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 your first cup of wine/grape juice!

"We are indebted to one another, and the debt is a kind of faith—a beautiful, difficult, strange faith. We believe each other into being."

-Jennifer Michael hecht

May this first cup of wine rouse each of us to the injustice that persists in our world today. May we recognize our own capacity to make a difference and commit ourselves to building a better world.

Source : Adapted from Jewish Boston

Passover 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 green vegetable, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter, and dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed so that we can be here together. 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.

Let us pause to consider the work of people who were enslaved. The world we live in was built by their hands and through their sweat and tears. Would we be sitting here if not for them?

Source :
From Amidst Brokenness

Take the middle matzah of the three on your Seder plate. Break it into two pieces. Wrap the larger piece, the Afikoman, in a napkin to be hidden later. As you hold up the remaining smaller piece, read these words together:

We now hold up this broken matzah, which so clearly can never be repaired. We eat the smaller part while the larger half remains out of sight and out of reach for now. We begin by eating this bread of affliction and, then, only after we have relived the journey through slavery and the exodus from Egypt, do we eat the Afikoman, the bread of our liberation. We see that liberation can come from imperfection and fragmentation. Every day, refugees across the globe experience the consequences of having their lives ruptured, and, yet, they find ways to pick up the pieces and forge a new, if imperfect, path forward.

Maggid - Beginning
Passover and Food Justice

At a Seder, we begin by eating the dry, broken matzah, which is supposed to be an equalizer. Regardless of where we came from and where we sit, on this night, at this very table, we all eat the same meager bread.

What would it mean for you to fulfill the statement, “let all who are hungry, come and eat”?

What does it mean for you to say, “now we are slaves; next year may we be free?"

-- Four Questions

The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life, and tonight one question stands out. 

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

On most other nights, we allow the news of tragedy in distant places to pass us by. On this night, on this year, tragedy surrounds us near and far. We might succumb to compassion fatigue—aware that we cannot possibly respond to the injustice that has encompassed our world. On this night, we are reminded that our legacy, as the descendants of slaves, creates in us a different kind of responsibility—we must protect the stranger because we were once strangers in the land of Egypt. Tonight, let us recommit to our sacred responsibility.

-- Four Questions
Source : Repair the World, The New Yorker
Avadim Hayinu (Repair the World)

The answer starts in its shortest form:
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; now we are free.

The Passover story chronicles the Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. It celebrates the movement from oppression to liberation and our belief that tyranny can be thwarted and justice can prevail.

On the eve of his death, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to a gathered crowd in Memphis, Tennessee in support of sanitatation workers on strike:

“The issue is the refusal of Memphis to be fair and honest in its dealings with its public servants, who happen to be sanitation workers. One thousand, three hundred sanitation workers are on strike. Now we're going to march again, and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God's children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. And we've got to say to the nation: We know how it's coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

Such oppression of workers was at the heart of the story of Pharaoh and the Exodus, 3,000 years ago, and the reason we continue to tell the story at this Passover table every year. Around the world today, courageous people are making similar journeys—leaving behind violence, poverty and persecution, and seeking security, freedom and peace. And many continue to struggle in this very land.

We cannot sit idly by. 

There is a charge in recognizing how the world may be redesigned by the people with a sense of urgency like the matzah we see before us. Let us remind you what MLK said, "for when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory."

And so all of us remember and taste within ourselves the bitterness of slavey, the oppression of workers and the disenfranchised.

-- Four Questions
Source : Cleo Wade
Something New

-- Exodus Story
Source : adapted from A Different Night

We raise our cups and recite together:

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. Yet we continue to persevere.

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

We put our cups down.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Jewish Boston, amended :-)

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of God.

This year, the term plague hits close to home as we attempt to celebrate amidst an active, festering pandemic.

In all other years, we recite each plague as we dip a finger into our wine glasses and pour out a drop. This year, let us pour our drops of wine for those who have been risking their lives at this very moment so that we can be here. We were indeed freed from an evil "Pharaoh" in Washington, but at much sacrifice and cost. 

For the doctors, nurses, volunteers and healthcare workers.

For the epidemiologists, biochemists, lab technicians and pharmacists.

For the deliver drivers, grocery store workers, restaurants, service workers and all those carrying out essential jobs.

For those who spoke up, even when they weren’t heard.

For those whose voices were silenced.

For those chastised or attacked for who they are. 

For the people who lost their jobs.

For the people who lost their shelter. 

For the people who lost their loved ones. 

For the people who lost their lives.


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

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Adapted from Jewish Boston and A Global Justice Haggadah

The first cup of wine awakened us to injustice and our capacity to bring about change. With the second cup we realize the path toward change.

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, every human being must look upon himself, or herself, as though we personally left Egypt, as we go forth from slavery into freedom.

We raise our glass in solidarity with all those who experience injustice around the world and dedicate ourselves to bringing freedom together. Let us acknowledge each other and drink to solidarity.

"That which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbors.” (Hillel the Elder).

"No one is free until we are all free." (MLK) 

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!

Does anyone at this table want to acknowledge or name someone with whom you wish to share solidarity right now?

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Adapted from Jewish Boston

We have now told the story of Passover… but we’re not quite done. There are still some symbols on our seder plate that require action and ritual. 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, meant to resemble strength, faith and resilience. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God commanded our ancestors to stay home on the night of the tenth plague and spread lamb's blood on their doors so that the angel of death may pass over their houses. 

The matzah reminds us of our urgency. 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.


Let us give thanks for the people who have made it possible for us to eat today. 

For the farmers and workers, the mills, the factories and truck drivers.

For the store owners, shelf stockers, checkout clerks and delivery people.

All those who may be putting their lives at risk in a pandemic so that we may not go hungry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source :

Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror  |מָרוֹר   

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

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

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

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

Source : HIAS, A Global Justice Haggadah

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, a union with their children, English language tutoring, access to jobs, and all of the things we would want for ourselves and our families.

We commit tonight to standing up, speaking out and protesting acts of hate and injustice.

We will fight poverty and inequality around the world.

We will act on our belief that change is possible.

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. 

Source : Martin Niemöller
Complicit in Silence

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller, a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany, sent to concentration camps for his opposition to Hitler.


"God has allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land."

— Dr. Martin Luther King, April 3,1968, the night before his death.

Source : (Amended from Benjamin Tevelow)

We've spoken a lot during this seder about the oppression that still exists in the world and on our doorstep, our struggles through the current pandemic, racial scapegoating, the threats posed against our rights to vote, and our obligation to continue seeking freedom, health and happiness. Let's take a moment now to celebrate and be thankful for how far we've come. With the fourth glass of wine, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

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


When Israel was in Egypt land, Let my People Go!

Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My People Go!

Go Down, Moses, Way down to Egypt Land,

Tell Old Pharaoh, Let my People Go!

Thus saith the Lord, bold Moses said, Let My People Go!

If not I'll smite your people dead, Let My People Go!

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land,

Tell Old Pharaoh, Let My People Go!

As Israel stood by the water side, Let My People Go!

By God's command it did divide, Let My People Go!

Go down, Moses, Way down to Egypt Land,

Tell Old Pharaoh, Let my People Go!

Source : Adapted from The Leader's Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night

Although this is the end of the Seder, this moment also marks a beginning. 

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.”

Our collective freedom has been challenged; meanwhile, we have all had our own relationships with freedom through our lifetimes and lineage. What has been your experience with liberation? Can we use our past experiences to create a new definition moving forward? We have the opportunity to rebuild the stage of our own freedom now. What does that look like to you and who will you invite to your stage?

Our seder is over. 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 for health and healing to all the people of the world. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim