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Introduction
Source : OurJewishCommunity.org

INTRODUCTION

The long history of our people is one of contrasts — freedom and slavery, joy and pain, power and helplessness. Passover reflects these contrasts. Tonight as we celebrate our freedom, we remember the slavery of our ancestors and realize that many people are not yet free.

Each generation changes — our ideas, our needs, our dreams, even our celebrations. So has Passover changed over many centuries into our present

holiday. Our nomadic ancestors gathered for a spring celebration when the sheep gave birth to their lambs. Theirs was a celebration of the continuity of life. Later, when our ancestors became farmers, they celebrated the arrival of spring in their own fashion. Eventually these ancient spring festivals merged with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and became a new celebration of life and freedom.

As each generation gathered around the table to retell the old stories, the symbols took on new meanings. New stories of slavery and liberation, oppression and triumph were added, taking their place next to the old. Tonight we add our own special chapter as we recall our people’s past and we dream of the future.

For Jews, our enslavement by the Egyptians is now remote, a symbol of communal remembrance. As we sit here in the comfort of our modern world, we think of the millions who still suffer the brutality of the existence that we escaped thousands of years ago.

Introduction
Source : InterfaithFamily.com

Dispelling the Urban Legend of the Orange on the Seder Plate

By Rabbi Robyn Frisch

If you, like me, are past the age of 40, you may remember years ago hearing the claim that Little Mikey of LIFE cereal fame died from the explosive effects of mixing Pop Rocks candy with soda pop. Or you may have heard that children’s television show host Mr. Rogers (Fred Rodgers) always wore long-sleeved shirts and sweaters on his show to conceal the tattoos on his arms he obtained while serving in the military. Or perhaps you’ve heard that alligators live under the New York City sewer system. But, in reality, none of these stories are true. They’re all “urban legends.” And I’m proud to say that I never believed any of them (well, except the one about Mikey and Pop Rocks—I did believe that one for awhile…).

But there’s another urban legend, one connected to the Passover seder, that I’ve believed for years. In fact, I’ve told this story many times at my own seders. It’s the story of the “orange on the seder plate.” And until this week, I always thought the story I told was true—after all, I’d heard it so many times, and read it in so many different places.

The story goes something like this: Professor Susannah Heschel was giving a lecture in Miami Beach, when a man stood up and yelled: “A woman belongs on a bimah like an orange belongs on a seder plate.” In order to show that women DO belong on the bimah—that women have the right to a place in Jewish ritual and in Jewish leadership—Heschel and others began to place oranges on their seder plates. (According to another version of the story, the man yelled: “A woman belongs on thebimah like a piece of bread belongs on the seder plate.” Wanting to make a point about women’s rightful place in Judaism, but not wanting to place bread, which is forbidden on Passover, on her seder plate, Heschel replaced “bread” with “an orange,” since the incident took place in Florida, “The Orange State.”)

I learned the story of “the orange on the seder plate” sometime in the late 1990s, when I was a rabbinical student. At the time I was in my early 30s, hosting my own seders for the first time.  Like many of my colleagues, I strived to make my seders authentic, relevant and meaningful by balancing tradition with creativity and innovation. I embraced the traditional symbols of the seder (the four cups of wine, matzah, egg, parsley, etc.) and also newer symbols, such as Miriam’s Cup and the orange. For the past 15 years or so, when I’ve gone to the produce store to buy parsley, horseradish and apples and nuts for my charoset, I’ve made sure to purchase an orange for my seder plate as well. And at every seder I’ve hosted, I’ve shared the “story of the orange on the seder plate” and how it represents women’s equality in Judaism.

But recently I found out that the story I’ve been telling simply isn’t true. Here’s the TRUE STORY, in Professor Susannah Heschel’s own words, from an article that she wrote for The Jewish Daily Forward in 2013:

“At an early point in the seder… I asked each person to take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit and eat the segment in recognition of gay and lesbian Jews and of widows, orphans, Jews who are adopted and all others who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community.

“When we eat that orange segment, we spit out the seeds to repudiate homophobia and we recognize that in a whole orange, each segment sticks together. Oranges are sweet and juicy and remind us of the fruitfulness of gay and lesbian Jews and of the homosociality that has been such an important part of Jewish experience, whether of men in yeshivas or of women in the Ezrat Nashim.”

Heschel went on to write of the Miami Beach lecture urban legend:

“That incident never happened! Instead, my custom had fallen victim to a folktale process in which my original intention was subverted. My idea of the orange was attributed to a man, and my goal of affirming lesbians and gay men was erased.

“Moreover, the power of the custom was subverted: By now, women are on the bimah, so there is no great political courage in eating an orange, because women ought to be on the bimah.

“For years, I have known about women whose scientific discoveries were attributed to men, or who had to publish their work under a male pseudonym. That it happened to me makes me realize all the more how important it is to recognize how deep and strong patriarchy remains, and how important it is for us to celebrate the contributions of gay and lesbian Jews, and all those who need to be liberated from marginality to centrality. And Passover is the right moment to ensure freedom for all Jews.”

I’m glad to have finally learned the “true story” of “the orange on the seder plate.” And now that I know it, will I still put an orange on MY seder plate this Passover? I sure will! But, like Professor Heschel, I’ll invite each of the participants at my seder to take a segment of the orange, make the blessing over fruit that grows on trees and eat the segment in recognition of gay and lesbian Jews and of widows, orphans, Jews who are adopted, interfaith couples and families and all others who sometimes feel marginalized in the Jewish community.

After all, the Passover seder is very much a time for asking questions (for the importance of questions in the Passover seder—beyond the “Four Questions”—see my blog from last year about the seder). And if I’ve learned anything from discovering the truth about the urban legend of the “orange on the seder plate,” it’s that we need to constantly be questioning: even those things that we’re confident we already “know.”

For more on Passover and seders, visit Interfaith Family's Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families.

Introduction
Source : http://mochajuden.com/?p=4179, http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2009/03/Unique-Passover-Traditions.aspx?b=1&p=6

Jews from Spain, Italy, Sicily, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sardinia would bring the Seder plate to the table with ceremony. Sometimes, they would cover it with a nice scarf and sing as it arrived to the table. They would pass it from person to person around the table, and place it on each head for a moment. This demonstrates that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads. In Hungary, they go even further by decorating the Seder plate with gold and silver. They do this to remember how the Jews left Egypt with riches.

Introduction
Source : me

Pesach is many things to many people. Its customs are familiar and can be viewed with many lenses. The symbols are universal and are subject to almost any reading: social justice, class, the Holocaust, Middle East politics, American politics, agriculture, the environment, the list is endless, and the proliferation of interpretations is evidence that this is fertile territory.

A few things – maybe only two – about the holiday are unavoidable, as in, Pesach wouldn't be Pesach if not for these things. One is symbolic/metaphorical, the other is cultural. The most important theme of Pesach is freedom from slavery. The holiday commemorates the time when the Hebrews were freed from slavery in Egypt. We eat unleavened bread, which is cheap road food. The charoset symbolizes mortar used by the slaves to make bricks. Every symbol is meant to remind us that these people were slaves. Slavery – actual, physical forced labor – provides a vivid frame of reference to talk about all other kinds of oppression: colonialism, the 1%, governments, mental illness, bullies, crime, the criminal justice system, corporate welfare. Pesach is the holiday where we openly celebrate the oppressed, the underdog. So, unlike other more nationalistic holidays like Hanukah, Pesach is really a day for us to remember the oppressed.

The cultural aspect of the holiday that is unavoidable is that it is Jewish. For most non-practicing, non-believing Jews, Pesach is the one annual event where we remember our Jewishness. We observe the customs. We sing in Hebrew. We eat traditional food. We inhabit the world of our ancestors, both known and unknown, recent and ancient.

All seders are the same at their core, and every seder is unique. Seders are both modular and constant. They have a dual nature. Seder means "order," implying that there are rules, but the order goes only so far. This is a holiday that celebrates freedom after all. So interpret each ritual and symbol in your own way.

Introduction
Source : Meg Valentine

A word about God: everyone has his or her own understanding of what God is. For some people, there is no God, while for others, God is an integral part of their lives. While we may not agree on a singular concept of God, we share a common desire for goodness to prevail in the world. And this is the meaning of tonight:  freedom winning out over slavery, good prevailing over evil.

Please consider the source of benevolence in your life, be it God, or a belief in humanity, and hold that source in your hearts as we move through the evening.

Introduction
Source : Irena Klepsisz

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because they had no love and felt alone in the world
Because they were afraid to be alone and tried to stick it out
Because they could not ask
Because they were shunned
Because they were sick and their bodies could not resist the disease
Because they played it safe
Because they had no connection
Because they had no faith
Because they felt they did not belong and wanted to die

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because they were loners and liked it
Because they acquired friends and drew others to them
Because they drew attention to themselves and always got picked
Because they took risks
Because they were too stubborn and refused to give up
Because they asked for too much

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because a card was lost and a number was skipped
Because a bed was denied
Because a place was filled and no other was left

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because someone did not follow through
Because someone was overworked and forgot
Because someone left everything to God
Because someone was late
Because someone did not arrive at all
Because someone told them to wait and they just couldn’t any longer

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED
Because death is a punishment
Because death is a reward
Because death is the final rest
Because death is eternal rage

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO DIED

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SURVIVED
Because their second grade teacher gave them books
Because they did not draw attention to themselves and got lost in the shuffle
Because they knew someone who knew someone else who could help them
and bumped into them on a corner on a Thursday afternoon
Because they played it safe
Because they took risks
Because they were lucky

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SURVIVED
Because they knew how to cut corners
Because they drew attention to themselves and always got picked
Because they had no principles and were hard

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SURVIVED
Because they refused to give up and defied statistics
Because they had faith and trusted in God
Because they expected the worst and were always prepared
Because they were angry
Because they could ask
Because they mooched off others and saved their strength
Because they endured humiliation
Because they turned the other cheek
Because they looked the other way

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SURVIVED
Because life is a wilderness and they were savage
Because life is an awakening and they were alert
Because life is a flowering and they blossomed
Because life is a struggle and they struggled
Because life is a gift and they were free to accept it.

THESE WORDS ARE DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SURVIVED. BASHERT.

- IRENA KLEPSISZ

Introduction
Source : http://www.jewbelong.com/passover/

Pack Nothing. Bring only your determination to serve and your willingness to be free.

Don’t wait for the bread to rise.
Take nourishment for the journey, but eat standing, be ready to move at a moment’s notice.

Do not hesitate to leave your old ways behind - fear, silence, submission.

Do not take time to explain to the neighbors.Tell only a few trusted friends and family members.

Then begin quickly, before you have time to sink back into the old slavery.

Set out in the dark. I will send fire to warm and encourage you. I will be with you in the fire and I will be with you in the cloud.

You will learn to eat new food and find refuge in new places.
I will give you dreams in the desert to guide you safely home to that place you have not yet seen.

The stories you tell one another around your fires in the dark will make you strong and wise.

Outsiders will attack you, some will follow you, and at times you will weary and turn on each other from fear and fatigue and blind forgetfulness.

You have been preparing for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness to make a way and to learn my ways more deeply.

Those who fight you will teach you. Those who fear you will strengthen you. Those who follow you may forget you. Only be faithful. This alone matters.

Some of you will die in the desert, for the way is longer than anyone imagined. Some of you will give birth.

Some will join other tribes along the way,
and some will simply stop and create new families in a welcoming oasis.

Some of you will be so changed by weathers and wanderings that even your closest friends will have to learn your features as though for the first time.

Some of you will not change at all.
Sing songs as you go, and hold close together. You may, at times, grow confused and lose your way.

Continue to call each other by the names I’ve given you to help remember who you are. You will get where you are going by remembering who you are.

Tell your children lest they forget and fall into danger -
remind them even they were not born in freedom but under a bondage they no longer remember, which is still with them, if unseen.

So long ago you fell into slavery, slipped into it unaware, out of hunger and need.

Do not let your children sleep through the journey’s hardship.
Keep them awake and walking on their own feet so that you both remain strong and on course.

So you will be only the first of many waves of deliverance on these desert seas.

Do not go back. I am with you now and I am waiting for you.

Full PDF Here - http://www.jewbelong.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/JewBelongHaggadah-1.pdf

Introduction
Source : ajws.org
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 the 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. 

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Read and Discuss

The Three Levels of Oppression: Ilan Gur Ze'ev

The First level:
In our opinion, the first level of oppression, primitive oppression, is expressed by inflicting aggressive force (physical violence) in order to force someone to act against their will and interest. Uprising against this kind of oppression is possible with different levels of success. It is possible to diminish its influence and there is hope for liberation from this level of oppression.
In this type of oppression the oppressor is the more oppressed than the one he is oppressing.

The Second Level of Oppression:
The second level of oppression isideological oppression, in which the oppressor manipulates (lies) the oppressed to the point of identification, the oppressed identifies with the values and interests of his oppressor. The identification is an important element in blurring the consciousness of the oppressed to the existence of the oppression. This system lowers the oppressed self-consciousness partly because of his own actions. These actions are drawn to the system's existing movement, it straightens and sophisticates the existing order and then rebuilds its boundaries. Examples are ideological expression as a nationalism, "free initiative" and Marxism. Against this existing oppression there is a hope to activate (as Marx in his time) a critical ideology (creating awareness) and to raise the oppressed to resistance against his oppressor. This level of oppression, moves from the personal level (private) to the class or group level, from the personal to the collective, it is far more efficient than the first level of oppression, because it exceeds physical oppression as the oppressors’ main means of manipulation. In correlation the liberation from the second level of oppression is more problematic and as usual evolves into a more sophisticated type of oppression. As long as the uprisers are weak, they will focus their actions against the systems structure. Once stronger and their control is more established, the oppressed will take over the roles of judges and legislators, and teachers and psychologists will be sent against their enemies to mainly treat the soul. Yet there is still place for hope.

Third level of oppression:
The third level of oppression, is a faceless oppression without class identification, successful enough to be accepted by the oppressed with internalization and devotion.This oppression is conditioned by the "narrowing of the dialogue" and sterilization of the antagonist dimension in the taken-for-granted well know reality, and their undisturbed actions of controlling forces in the system.Markuza is on the verge of pessimism in view of what we call oppression of the third level, in which the structure of the oppressed, up to the point of where the need or capability of rebellion will not exist. This is described as the rooting and destruction of the new: diseases, necessities and needs; illness, drugs and poisons, antidotes to create a new world of symbols that sum up the founding of "new man" that will never want or be capable of emancipation.

-Ilan Gur Ze'ev.

Kadesh
Source : Aviva Cantor, The Egalitarian Hagada
As we remember this struggle, we honor the midwives who were the first Jews to resist the Pharaoh.  our legends tell us that Pharaoh, behaving in a way common to oppressors, tried to get Jews to collaborate in murdering their own people.  He summoned the two chief midwives, Shifra and Pu'ah, and commanded them to kill newborn Jewish males at birth.  He threatened the midwives with death by fire if they failed to follow his commands.

But the midwives did not follow orders.  Instead of murdering the infants, they took special care of them and their mothers.  When Pharaoh asked them to account for all the living children, they made up the excuse that Jewish women gave birth too fast to summon midwives in time.

The midwives' acts of civil disobedience were the first stirrings of resistance among the Jewish slaves. The actions of the midwives gave the people courage both to withstand their oppression and to envision how to overcome it.  It became the forerunner of the later resistance.  Thus Shifra and Pu'ah were not only midwives to the children they delivered, but also to the entire Jewish nation, in its deliverance from slavery.

Kadesh
Source : Design by Haggadot.com

Kadesh
Source : JQ International GLBT Haggadah

We sanctify the name of God and proclaim the holiness of this festival of Passover. With a blessing over wine, we lift our wine, our symbol of joy; let us welcome the festival of Passover.

In unison, we say…

Our God and God of our ancestors, we thank You for enabling us to gather in friendship, to observe the Festival of Freedom. Just as for many centuries the Passover Seder has brought together families and friends to retell the events that led to our freedom, so may we be at one with Jews everywhere who perform this ancient ritual linking us with our historic past. As we relive each event in our people’s ancient struggle, and celebrate their emergence from slavery to freedom, we pray that all of us may keep alive in our hearts the love of liberty. May we dedicate our lives to the abolition of all forms of tyranny and injustice.

Reclining on our left side demonstrates our freedom from slavery. We hold our first cup of wine and we recite:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’Olam Borey P’ree Hagafen.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.

Kadesh
Source : Original Illustration from Haggadot.com

Kadesh
Source : http://velveteenrabbi.com/VRHaggadah.pdf
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.
Kadesh
Source : A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion http://haggadahsrus.com/NTR.html
The Four Cups of the Seder are structurally connected to the four verbal performances this evening:

(1) Kiddush, sanctifying the holiday (2) Maggid, the storytelling (3) Birkat HaMazon, completing the Pesach meal; and (4) Hallel, completing the festival Psalms.

The Talmud connects the Four Cups to God's Four Promises to Israel: "Tell the children of Israel: I am Adonai! I will take them out... I will rescue them… I will redeem them… and I will marry them taking them as my people and I will be their God" (Exodus 6:6-7, Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 10:1).

However, two 16th C. mystic rabbis identify the Four Cups with the Four Matriarchs of Israel. The Maharal of Prague (famous for the legend of Golem) and Rav Isaiah Horowitz of Tsfat explain:

(1) The Cup of Kiddush stands for Sarah who was the mother of a community of converts, believers by choice.

(2) The Cup of Maggid is for Rebecca who knew how to mother both Esav and Jacob, two opposed natures.

(3) The Cup of the Blessing after Eating represents Rachel whose son Joseph provided the whole family of Jacob with bread in a time of great famine.

(4) The Cup of Hallel (Praise) is for Leah who came to realize that the pursuit of the impossible, Jacob's love, must give way to appreciation of what one has. When her fourth child was born, Judah, she praised God: " This time I will thank God " (Genesis 29:35).

Urchatz
Touch Me

by Stanley Kunitz

Summer is late, my heart. Words plucked out of the air some forty years ago when I was wild with love and torn almost in two scatter like leaves this night of whistling wind and rain. It is my heart that's late, it is my song that's flown. Outdoors all afternoon under a gunmetal sky staking my garden down, I kneeled to the crickets trilling underfoot as if about to burst from their crusty shells; and like a child again marveled to hear so clear and brave a music pour from such a small machine. What makes the engine go? Desire, desire, desire. The longing for the dance stirs in the buried life. One season only, and it's done. So let the battered old willow thrash against the windowpanes and the house timbers creak. Darling, do you remember the man you married? Touch me, remind me who I am. 

Urchatz
Source : http://blog.eteacherhebrew.com/israel-history/9-facts-about-hannah-szenes/
1. Hannah Senesh was a Hungarian Jew, one of 37 Jews who lived in the British Mandate for Palestine (now Israel), who were trained by the British army to parachute into Yugoslavia during the Second World War in order to help save the Jews of Hungary, who were about to be deported to the German death camp at Auschwitz.

2. Senesh was arrested at the Hungarian border, imprisoned and tortured, but she refused to reveal details of her mission and was eventually tried, and executed by firing squad. She is regarded as a national heroine in Israel, where several streets, a headquarters the zionist youth movement Israel Hatzeira and a kibbutz are named after her, and her poetry is widely known.

3. Senesh enrolled in a Protestant private school for girls which also accepted Catholic and Jewish pupils; however, she had to pay twice the regular tuition because she was Jewish. This, along with the realization that the situation of the Jews in Hungary was becoming precarious, prompted Szenes to embrace Judaism. She announced to her friends that she had become a Zionist and joined Maccabea, a Hungarian Zionist students organization.

4. Senesh graduated in 1939 and decided to emigrate to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine in order to study in the Girls’ Agricultural School at Nahalal.

5. In 1941, she joined Kibbutz Sdot Yam and then joined the Haganah, the paramilitary group that laid the foundation of the Israel Defense Forces. In 1943, she enlisted in the British army in the Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force as an Aircraftwoman 2nd Class and began her training in Egypt as a paratrooper for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).

6. In March 1944, she and two male colleagues, Yoel Palgi and Peretz Goldstein, were parachuted into Yugoslavia and joined a partisan group. After landing, they learned the Germans had already occupied Hungary, so the men decided to call off the mission as too dangerous. Szenes continued and headed for the Hungarian border.

7. At the border, she was arrested by Hungarian gendarmes, who found the British military transmitter she was carrying, used to communicate with the SOE and other partisans. She was taken to a prison in Budapest, tied to a chair, stripped, then whipped and clubbed for three days. The guards wanted to know the code for her transmitter so they could find out who the other parachutists were. She did not tell them, however, even when they brought her mother into the cell and threatened to torture her too.

8. Whilst in jail, Szenes used a mirror to flash signals out of the window to the Jewish prisoners in other cells, and communicated with them using large cut-out letters in Hebrew that she placed in her window one at a time and by drawing the Magen David in the dust. She tried to keep their spirits up by singing, and through all the things Szenes went through she still kept her spirit high and stayed true to her mission.

9. Senesh was tried for treason on October 28, 1944. There was an eight-day postponement to give the judges more time to find a verdict, followed by another postponement, this one because of the appointment of a new Judge Advocate. She was executed by a firing squad before the judges had returned a verdict. She kept diary entries until her last day, November 7, 1944 when she was killed by a German firing squad. One of them read: "In the month of July, I shall be twenty-three/I played a number in a game/The dice have rolled. I have lost," and another: "I loved the warm sunlight."

Urchatz
Source : Deborah Miller
We will wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal.

Too often during our daily lives we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do. Let's pause as we wash our hands to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together. 

Urchatz
Source : http://www.templerodefshalom.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/2013-SederSongs1.pdf
I Want to Wash My Hands

to the tune of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles

Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something It’s one of God’s commands

When you start the Seder You need to wash your hands

You need to wash your hands

You need to wash your hands

Oh my what a feeling

Before the paschal lamb

And yes it’s appealing I want to wash my hands

I want to wash my hands

I want to wash my hands

And we wash them when we say the Barchu 

I pass the bowl around and say

On to you, on to you, on to you

Yeah, You got us praying To reach the Promised Land

Hear this we’re conveying

We want to wash our hands

We want to wash our hands

We want to wash our hands

©2013 David Vanca and Lizzy Pike 

Urchatz
Source : Design by Haggadot.com

Urchatz
Source : original

By Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder  alternadox.net

Later on we will do ' rachtzah '─the washing over the matzah . Now we are doing ' urchatz ', which amounts to washing before eating a vegetable.  This is not something we do every day.

To explain, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, writes of dividing life into two categories: the goal, and everything else.  We set goals for ourselves and set out to reach them.  Everything we do that helps us reach that goal is worthwhile.  But how do we relate to all the other things we do?   This is an important question that addresses how we feel about the aspects of our lives that our not essential.  And this is one of the central points of the Seder.

What is the goal of the Seder?  The peak spiritual moment of the Seder is when we fully absorb the spiritual impact of the matzah when we eat it.  So why don't we cut to the chase?  Let's get that matzah inside of us as quickly as possible!  But the truth is, the Seder wants to help us experience every moment of our lives as an encounter with the Divine.  It demands that we let go of our usual distinctions -  important and unimportant, sacred and profane, good and bad, needs and wants.

Tonight, we are going to learn how to experience the Divine within all moments.  Not only prayers and mitzvot, but also eating and conversation.  Not only goals, but journeys.  Finally free to let go of the reins for a moment, we can celebrate every moment equally.  Not only will we recognize the holiness of the process, we will even sanctify ourselves toward this pursuit: urchatz.

R’ Kook deepens the concept for us: vegetables, in the Talmud, are thought to enhance hunger - 'appetizers'.  If eating is an unfortunate concession we make to our animal nature, then vegetables are antithetical to the goal of living life more spiritually. But if eating is another opportunity for encounter with the Divine - if pleasure is an encounter with the Divine ─ then the vegetable we are about to eat is a holy sacrament, drawing us in to a moment of Encounter.  So of course we should wash our hands to prepare ourselves.

Washing toward the matzah -goal and the vegetable-distractions represent two kinds of freedom: the first is freedom to live an intentional life.  We celebrate our right and capacity to point ourselves in a specific direction and actually follow through.  But there is another kind of freedom: freedom to let go, to know that wherever we go we will find Hashem and meaning and direction and connection. It is told that the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidut, when embarking on a journey, would have his coachman, Alexi, let go of the reins and sit backward, facing away from the horses. With the  freedom to let go of the reins, we allow our desires to guide us as much we allow the Torah to guide us.

Rebbe Natan of Brelsov writes that ' urchatz ' is from the root-word in Aramaic that means 'trust'.   At this moment in the Seder, pay closer attention to your capacity to trust and let go.  The goal is to trust enough to sanctify aspects of yourself and the life you live that you never allowed yourself to see as holy. Can you trust the holiness of the night, the 'night of protection', to guard you from any negative impact of what's inside of you?  Do you  trust the people around this table, each of them looking at you tonight with holy Pesach-eyes, to be with you in your search for true freedom?

We have nothing to fear except holding back. We will never reach true freedom if we do not free our desires and appetites to be in service of the Divine.

As you wash, consider that you are preparing yourself for an encounter with something holy – your own desires!  Use the washing as an opportunity to shift your perspective on those desires.

Urchatz
Source : The Open Door (ed., Sue Levi Elwell)
Pass a pitcher, basin, and towl around the table. Rinse and dry your hands, saying:

Let our telling pour forth like water, strengthening spirits, refreshing souls.

Urchatz
Source : Original

Karpas
By Ronnie M. Horn 

Long before the struggle upward begins, there is tremor in the seed. Self-protection cracks, Roots reach down and grab hold. The seed swells, and tender shoots push up toward light. This is karpas: spring awakening growth. A force so tough it can break stone.

And why do we dip karpas into salt water?

To remember the sweat and tears of our ancestors in bondage.

To taste the bitter tears of our earth, unable to fully renew itself this spring because of our waste, neglect and greed.

To feel the sting of society's refusal to celebrate the blossoming of women's bodies and the full range of our capacity for love.

And why should salt water be touched by karpas?

To remind us that tears stop. Spring comes. And with it the potential for change.

Karpas
Source : Design by Haggadot.com

Karpas
Source : http://www.context.org/iclib/ic30/berry/
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

By Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise, vacation with pay. Want more of everything ready-made. Be afraid to know your neighbors and to die. And you will have a window in your head. Not even your future will be a mystery any more. Your mind will be punched in a card and shut away in a little drawer. When they want you to buy something they will call you. When they want you to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing. Take all that you have and be poor. Love someone who does not deserve it. Denounce the government and embrace the flag. Hope to live in that free republic for which it stands. Give your approval to all you cannot understand. Praise ignorance, for what man has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers. Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias. Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest. Say that the leaves are harvested when they have rotted into the mold. Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus that will build under the trees every thousand years. Listen to carrion – put your ear close, and hear the faint chattering of the songs that are to come. Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts. So long as women do not go cheap for power, please women more than men. Ask yourself: Will this satisfy a woman satisfied to bear a child? Will this disturb the sleep of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields. Lie down in the shade. Rest your head in her lap. Swear allegiance to what is nighest your thoughts. As soon as the generals and the politicos can predict the motions of your mind, lose it. Leave it as a sign to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go. Be like the fox who makes more tracks than necessary, some in the wrong direction. Practice resurrection.

Karpas
Source : Alex Weissman, Ritualwell.org

The karpas, the green vegetable, is the first part of the seder that makes this night different from all other nights. So far, the first glass of wine and the hand washing, though significant, do not serve to mark any sort of difference; they are regular parts of meals. The karpas, however, is not. As a night marked by difference, that difference starts now. Tonight, we celebrate difference with the karpas. Here, difference brings us hope, joy, and renewed life.

We also know that with difference can come pain and tears. We have shed these tears ourselves and we have caused others to shed tears. Some say we dip the karpas in salt water to remind ourselves of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery and then dipped his fabulous, technicolor dream coat into blood to bring back to their father, Jacob. Difference can also be dangerous.

Tonight, we dip the karpas into salt water, and as we taste it, we taste both the fresh, celebratory hope of difference and the painful blood and tears that have come with it.

Together we say:

Brukha at Yah eloheynu ruakh ha'olam boreit p'ri ha'adamah.

You are Blessed, Our God, Spirit of the World, who creates the fruit of the earth.

This clip originally appeared on Ritualwell.org.

Karpas
Source : Machar
SALT WATER - Why do we dip our food in salt water two times on this night? The first time, the salty taste reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves.

[Greens held up for all to see.]

KARPAS - Parsley and celery are symbols of all kinds of spring greenery. The second time, the salt water and the green can help us to remember the ocean and green plants and the Earth, from which we get the water and air and food that enable us to live.

Leader: N'-varekh `et pri ha-`Adamah.

Everyone:

Let us bless the fruit of the Earth.

[Please dip your parsley into salt water two times and eat it.] 

Yachatz
Source : http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2009/03/Unique-Passover-Traditions.aspx?b=1&p=8

In Syria, instead of breaking the middle matzah in half, they break it into the shape of the Hebrew letters daled and vav, which correspond to numbers adding up to 10, representing the 10 Holy Emanations of G-d.

Yachatz
Source : Jews United For Justice, http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5483/images/web_haggadah.pdf

Yachatz
Source : Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons & Significant Others - Edited
YACHATZ

Is matzo poor man's bread or the food of free men? Can it be both? If we regard it as the Bread of Affliction why did we carry dough on our backs out of Egypt, to let it bake in the hot sun without leavening and rising? Can one Matzo be both a symbol of wretchedness and deliverance?

Matzo is a paradox.

Not only is it so, but in breaking the middle matzo we also break with symmetry. There is a bigger half and a smaller half. This unpalatable truth is almost a preamble to the Haggadah. The universe is not symmetrical, all is not evenly divided. There is a richer and poorer half. The distribution of assets is not equal. This is one of the mysteries that persists, omnipresent, throughout time. Life, the universe, and everything is not fair. We cannot balance this sorry scheme of things entire, and so it goes.

What was our response as children to the dawning realization that it was not fair? Did we have coping mechanisms? We survived so we must have coped, but we sacrificed our health in order to do so. We split. We broke into pieces. We hid ourself away. And this is how we prepared ourselves for life. Like the hungriest of paupers eating what we absolutely must, laying aside the greater part for later, when the time is riper. We compromised, accepting this imbalance, bowing to the "Law of Unfairness” which must prevail.

In many ways this acquiescence preceded addiction. We grew satisfied with the expression of a mere fraction of our personalities. We went into "survival mode", subsisting on crumbs of humanness, hiding the greater part of ourselves from ourselves.

As we do with the AFIKOMEN.

The focus of our lives grew narrower as our preoccupation with gnawing hunger grew stronger. We had nothing to spare for growth when all we had went to feed our habits. Fewer and fewer opportunities to begin the fixing, as we chased the fix with growing desperation. In the end it became obvious that we had developed a pathological relationship with the "bread of our affliction".

We break the middle matzo because the middle matzo represents the Great Mothering Principle of the Kabbalistical Sphere of BINAH. We lost the ability to take care of our most basic needs, to Mother ourselves.

If the recitation of the Haggadah is our "war-story", our qualification, why are we

breaking the matzo now before beginning our war story?

The answer is heartbreaking. The reason this happens before the Haggadah, is because

the splitting of the self almost always occurs when we are still in a pre-verbal state. The

disorder of our personalities, the shaming and abandonment of ourselves happens when

we are still babies, infants. What follows is the story of our lives after the rupture. The

inevitable, inexorable descent into the blast-furnace that was our Egypt, and our

deliverance. There are no words to describe the event. We simply break the matzo,

leaving the smaller section on the Seder plate, We wrap the larger piece in a pillow-case

and put it away for afikomen.

Yachatz
Source : Design by Haggadot.com

Yachatz
Source : Original: Trisha Arlin http://triganza.blogspot.com/

The top Matzoh

And bottom Matzoh are,

it is said,

Pesach substitutes

For the two loaves of challah on Shabbat,

Supposedly a reminder

Of the two portions of manna

They received  in the dessert

Every Friday before Shabbat.

 

But the middle matza?!

Ah,

That's for the seder.

We break it in half

And call it the bread of affliction,

Just like the unleavened bread

We ate as we fled slavery

 

Matza Number Two,

The afflicted matza,

We break it in half

And separate ourselves from joy

So we don't forget the pain

That has been ours.

We break it in half

And separate ourselves from the joy

So we can remember the pain

Of others.

All this pain

Lives in this first half of the afflicted matzoh

And we eat this half now,

So that we do not forget that we were slaves

So that we do not enslave others.

 

But--

We separate the second half of the afflicted matza

(The Afikomen)

From all that hurt

So that we don't forget the  joy that can follow the sorrow.

So that we don't forget the times that we changed things for the better.

And after the meal we will search for that happiness

And we will find it.

And then we eat the Afikomen together

So we don't forget that it is good to be alive

 And we are obligated to share that joy.

Blessed One-ness, we are so grateful for the obligations to remember pain and share joy.

Amen

 

Yachatz
Source : Original

We break the middle matzah spiriting away a part of the tribes of Israel to be lost until found at the end of proceedings.  What does this feel like, to rip at a part of our Jewish souls to leave them in hiding? 

Yachatz
Source : A Night to Remember: The Haggadah of Contemporary Voices by Mishael Zion and Noam Zion http://haggadahsrus.com/NTR.html
The Pesach story begins in a broken world, amidst slavery and oppression. The sound of the breaking of the matza sends us into that fractured existence, only to become whole again when we find the broken half, the afikoman, at the end of the Seder.

This brokenness is not just a physical or political situation: It reminds us of all those hard, damaged places within ourselves. All those narrow places from which we want to break to free. In Hebrew, Egypt is called Mitzrayim, reminding us of the word tzar, narrow. Thus, in Hassidic thought, Mitzrayim symbolizes the inner straits that trap our souls. Yet even here we can find a unique value, as the Hassidic saying teaches us: "There is nothing more whole – than a broken heart."

SHARE: Pass out a whole matza to every Seder participant, inviting them to take a moment to ponder this entrance into a broken world, before they each break the matza themselves.