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Introduction
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
We Could Be Heroes: A Heroes Haggadah Introduction

What is a superhero anyway? Someone who has the power of invisibility? The ability to fly? To read minds? To interpret something incomprehensible? Or is it someone who leads by example, or does things a little differently, a little unexpectedly, a little bit more selflessly than the rest of us do? 

This year many of us returned to the theater to witness fictionalized heroism, as our superpowered surrogates found strength, experienced loss and chose self-sacrifice for the greater good. Off-screen, we watched a flood of attention and people-power flow toward the borders of Ukraine, trying to rescue people from dire circumstances. We were reminded that, not all heroes wear capes. Or spandex. Or uniforms. They wander through deserts, gallop on horses, drive rescue vans, organize convoys of supplies. They see to their own health and to the well-being of those around them. They create art and music that speaks justice into the world and connects us with our emotions. Many walk the same streets as we do, making similar choices, with impacts both public and private. 

Heroes know they have power and use it for good. With great power comes great responsibility. With hands outstretched to rescue the plagued, the indigent and tempest-tossed; providing shelter for the vulnerable, silent and unsung heroes jumped into the breach to free those who were bound or in narrow straits. Some of us will accept the mantle of leadership, relinquishing our own goals and desires to be agents of liberation. Heroes and superheroes teach us about selflessness and democracy, that even if our speech isn’t perfect, someone has to lead, even if they sometimes resent the burden.

What makes a superhero? Who are our favorite wielders of smarts and swords, enlightened sapience and lightsabers?

Why are we riveted to their stories? What do we expect from them?

Why might we embrace the idea of a pan-religious philosophy that includes righteous violence and connections to the common flow of universal energy? How do we frame the drive to go where no others have gone before?

How do these new stories intersect with our classic texts and common history? Are they even new at all? 

This is the work of the seder, this year and every year. It can be serious, traditional, contemporary and even fun.

So as you assemble your league of justice-seekers around your table and distribute your Haggadot to guide you through the Seder, may you live long and Pesach, and may the four questions be with you.

[Image source: GIPHY]

Introduction
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Is Michael Scott a Hero? https://media.giphy.com/media/cS7AhVMWcA8PHBs9Vx/giphy.gif

"Am I a hero?"

Michael Scott is the regional manager of Dunder-Mifflin paper company. He's bumbling, awkward, self-centered and overly concerned with how other people view him. Even though some of his intentions are good, his implementation is usually disproportionally bad. He wants to fund the future, but makes promises to "Scott's Tots" that he can't keep. He hits a co-worker with his car, outs another, makes inappropriate comments in the office on the regular. He is not the kind of person who will put others first. He does not seem like "hero material."

But here's the thing about Michael Scott. As many times as he puts his foot in his mouth or in a George Foreman grill, he keeps trying. He comes from a background that didn't properly teach him about love and interacting with others. And over the course of his years at Dunder-Mifflin, he changes. The work family that he always wanted to love him eventually does (even if he still makes them uncomfortable). His intentions overtake (or at least catch up to and balance out) his awkwardness. He is able to put other people and their needs first; he makes room for others to succeed him and excel in their work. He opens himself up to love and to vulnerability.

So is Michael Scott a hero? I really can't say. But yes.

And what does this have to do with the seder, the Haggadah or Passover? Great question.

While the temptation is to say that a hero is someone who is in a DC or Marvel movie, or whose entire profession situates them in an environment where they engage in daily acts of heroism, those are only the most visible examples of heroism. Even Michael Scott, as flawed as he is, has his moments. And for many of us, who are not working in field hospitals or defeating Thanos, this kind of heroism is one we can aspire to and attain. If Michael Scott can find heroic moments within himself, so can we. 

[Image source: GIPHY]

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Kadesh
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Tyrion Lannister Raises A Glass

Whether winter is coming or just immediately past, raise a glass that — as is always the case for Tyrion Lannister — merely the first of many. You will drink until you cannot remember who rules from the Iron Throne, until you're rooting for romantic tension between a brother and sister, until you're convinced that, sure, you could control those dragons because you're really good with animals.

When the night is dark and full of terrors, what is a hero? One who does what must be done? Or who stays out of an unjust fight? You can't solve the world's conundra today, but in this first cup, be your own hero, and get in touch with all of the things that make you, you: you're well-read, you're living a life of relative privilege, and people underestimate you at their peril. By cup #4, you will be like Jon Snow, and know nothing. But here, now, you know it all, like Tyrion, even if no one listens to you. Replenish your flagon; but stay far from dragons.

[Image source: GIPHY]

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Urchatz
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
How Does A Hero Wash His Hands?

After two years of COVID, very few of us need instruction as to how to properly wash our hands. But we thought it was worth bringing in Dr. Houseman/Det. Briscoe/Lumiere the candelabrum to show us how it's done.

Jerry Orbach died of prostate cancer in 2004, but we're making a case for his heroism not just on-screen but off, with these fun facts:

1. He was the first person to ever sing "Try to Remember" (from "The Fantastiks") on stage.

2. Kurt Vonnegut once called him "adorable."

3. As anyone who took the New York City subway in the mid-to-late 2000s can tell you, he donated his corneas after his death, helping two individuals to see again. Ads papered those subway cars for years after he died, reminding New Yorkers of his generosity.

So be our guest: wash your hands (no need for a blessing here, we'll get to that later), and think about the good you can do in the world. Jerry Orbach would want you to.

[Image source: GIPHY]

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Karpas
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
What Do You Use For Karpas?

Karpas, the green leafy vegetable that's meant to evoke spring, seems to mean different things in different homes: radishes (perhaps cut to resemble flowers), parsley sprigs (oh, how incredibly satisfying), carrots or celery (these appetizers are really filling)...and in some homes, this becomes a whole appetizer course, with additional salads and vegetables.

But in some homes, they use potatoes. That's right, PO-TAY-TOES. Starchy deliciousness that goes great with salt water and will tide you over through tonight's storytelling. There are even some rebels who share the sweetness of a yam or sweet potato during Karpas, and that salty sweet combination reminds us of why we're here, celebrating both the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of freedom.

We'll say it: serving potatoes for Karpas is near-heroic. 

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Yachatz
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
You Don't Need To Be A Super-Soldier...

Sure, Steve Rogers can rip a log in half with his bare hands. But look how sweaty he gets! We know he can do this all day. And it looks like he has been.

You, however, can break a board of matzah in half without a single bead of perspiration. You don't have to be Captain America. You can be the heroic captain of your own seder.

But since we're talking about America's First Avenger, let's really talk about him. Steve Rogers is the prime Avenger, recruited into the super-soldier program not because he was physically strong but because although he lacked physical strength, his heart was loyal and patriotic and self-sacrificing, to a fault. Steve Rogers always does what he believes to be the right thing to do; while he's a soldier who respects the chain of command, if government agencies instruct him to act against a friend, that's where conflict emerges and he may go rogue...but only for love of humanity.

"The price of freedom is high," he says. "It always has been. But it's a price I am willing to pay." Throughout his career as an Avenger and as a leader, it's that love of humanity that takes precedence over individual love or concerns; but in the Endgame, Cap finally gets his happy ending. And he ends up sitting on a bench looking like Joe Biden. We're just saying.  

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Maggid - Beginning
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
That Feeling When You Get To Maggid

We know how Indiana Jones feels. We've probably done this seder thing before, we've heard this story before...what could possibly be left to learn?

As Indy discovers, there's always another text to explore and interpret; even the things that we understand to be part of legend can have their roots in things that really happened, and all it takes is the openness to new adventures, asking the right questions, and wearing a good hat to shield your face from the sun, especially if you're going to the Middle East to do your research.

If we're to view Henry Jones Jr. (they named the dog Indiana) as a hero, we have to look at the whole picture. 

He's a professor, so he's smart. He has the love and respect (but definitely the love) of his students. He's got friends in high places (shoutout to Marcus). And he's barely afraid of anything (except snakes, which...fair).

But he's always on the job. He doesn't take time for himself, seems oblivious to the effect he has on women, and is estranged from his similarly workaholic past-obsessed father. He doesn't always make the right choice (Marion & Indy forever), 

But Indy (we call him Indy, 'cause we're tight) is heroic. He uses his smarts to get things done and he can outrun a boulder. He knows "it's not the years, it's the mileage." The fact that he makes errors in judgment — trusting Alfred Molina when he says, "throw me the idol; I'll throw you the whip" and falling for Elsa Schneider, especially since he hates Nazis — makes him human. And while he may believe that hokey religion is no match for a blaster at your side*, he has enough respect for otherworldly forces to know that when a French archeologist working for the Nazis opens the Ark of the Covenant, you close your eyes.  

Here comes the story. Even if you've heard it before, give it a listen. If you want to, you can even close your eyes.

*OK, fine, so that's Han Solo. But Han Solo is who Indiana Jones would be if hadn't gotten a PhD in archeology.

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-- Four Questions
Source : Translations by https://funtranslations.com/
Four Questions in Fictional Languages

Reading the Four Questions in a variety of languages has become a seder tradition for many people. And since this haggadah is all about larger than life characters, this is a great time to read the Mah Nishtanah in fictional languges. Get creative with reading these, try other fictional languages or make up your own language to read the Four Questions. (Got your own fictional language Four Questions? Why not share it here?)
 

Mandalorian (Star Wars): Tion'jor is ibic ca different teh an ashi nights? Bat an ashi nights vi epar bintar leavened shuner bal matzah. Tonight vi shi epar matzah. Bat an ashi nights vi epar an kinds be vegetables, al tonight vi epar bitter herbs. Bat an ashi nights vi aren’t expected brokar dip cuun vegetables solus ca'nara. Tonight vi vaabir bic twice. Bat an ashi nights vi epar ebin sitting normally ra reclining. Tonight vi recline.   
 

Elvish (Lord of the Rings): Whui na- hi dú different o all other nights? Bo all other nights mín medi- ui- leavened bas a matzah. Tonight mín onlui medi- matzah. Bo all other nights mín medi- all kinds -o vegetables, but tonight mín medi- saer herbs. Bo all other nights mín aren’t expected na dip mín vegetables er anand. Tonight mín ceri- ha twice. Bo all other nights mín medi- either sitting normallui ben reclining. Tonight mín recline.  
 

Dothraki (Game of Thrones): Kirekhdirgi is jinak night esina ha ei eshna nights? She ei eshna nights kisha eat akkate leavened havon ma matzah. Ajjalan kisha disse eat matzah. She ei eshna nights kisha eat ei kinds ki ilmeser, vosma ajjalan kisha eat bitter herbs. She ei eshna nights kisha aren’t expected to dip kishi ilmeser ato kashi. Ajjalan kisha hash anna twice. She ei eshna nights kisha eat che sitting normally che reclining. Ajjalan kisha recline.   
 

Klingon (Star Trek): Qatlh is this ram different from hoch other nights? On hoch other nights mah sop both leavened tir ngogh 'ej matzah. Tonight mah neh sop matzah. On hoch other nights mah sop hoch kinds of vegetables, 'ach tonight mah sop bitter herbs. On hoch other nights mah aren’t expected to dip our vegetables wa' poh. Tonight mah ruch cha'logh. On hoch other nights mah sop ghap sitting normally qoj reclining. Tonight mah qot.  

[Image Source: GIPHY]

-- Four Questions
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
The Four Representation Questions

The Four Questions famously encourage the younger/newer Seder-goers to think about what's different from all other nights: is it that remarkably flat bread? Is it about intentionally consuming bitterness? Is it some kind of ritual dipping extravaganza?  Or is it that we're lounging about on pillows during dinner? Yes, it's all of those. But the first question, "Mah nishtana mikol ha laylot" — the famous "why is this night different from all other nights?" can also be read as an exclamation: "Whoa...this night is sure different from other nights!"

Why do we point out difference, anyway? Maybe it's to train ourselves to identify things that are familiar and things that vary from our own experience; we may feel more comfortable in the former, but may gain more by experiencing the latter.

Different experiences produce different stories. This is the reason that increased, diverse representation on-screen is so important. We contain multiverses: our experiences in different enviroments, speaking with people of varying backgrounds, builds empathy and helps us all understand one another better. Plus, when we can see ourselves on-screen, we feel less alone, and more part of a community.

The Haggadah creates spaces for this kind of difference, as one of the religious texts that has been repeatedly altered and added to as the decades have gone by, in every generation, as every new generation tries to see themselves in the larger Exodus narrative. So perhaps we should think about asking ourselves different questions, inspired by Miles Morales, Echo, Black Panther, Batwoman, Dreamer, Phastos, Valkyrie and others.

Who is represented around the table and who is absent?

What have we learned from our friends this year that has enriched the way we see the world?

What have we learned that saddened us and inspired us to create social change and acceptance?

How have our powers of perception and empathy been strengthened since we were last around the Seder table?

How lucky we are to have different perspectives with us tonight!

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-- Four Children
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Four Is Fantastic

Dr. Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic. Johnny Storm, a.k.a. Human Torch. Sue Storm, a.ka. Invisible Girl. Jewish character Ben Grimm, a.k.a. The Thing. That's four heroes in the Fantastic Four. Even with two major movies about this foursome, they still get overshadowed by the Avengers...(Chris Evans even defected from his original Johnny Storm portrayal to take up Captain America's shield).

But let's think about these folks in the framework of four approaches to life and action; read a little about them below and ask yourself...which of the Fantastic Four am I?

"Wise": Are you flexible or rigid when it comes to engaging with the world around you?

"Wicked": Are you setting the world on fire with your actions, possibly burning it down to create the world you wish to see?

"Simple": Are you operating under the radar, almost invisibly, undoubtedly being underpaid and under appreciated, but serving as a calming, simplifying presence?

"Not Asking Questions": Or are you not very verbal, but sturdy and reliable, moving through the world as a mass of power and force?

And if you're not feeling these four children, there are many others to choose from — a few of them below.

[Image source: GIPHY]

-- Four Children
Star Wars Four Children

A note from Haggadot.com:

We love this image from Mamie Stewart because it makes a suggestion visually and then leaves it to us to discuss, argue and converse  — #ThatsSoSeder.

-- Four Children
Source : https://reformjudaism.org/four-children-star-wars
The Four Children of Star Wars

by Rabbi Micah Streiffer

Star Wars is very Jewish, and you don’t have to take my (or Mel Brooks’) word for it. Here’s some proof:

  • The word “Jedi” looks an awful lot like  Yehudi, the Hebrew for “Jewish.”
  • Yoda, the most rabbinic of all creatures in the galaxy, has a name that is essentially like the Hebrew word for “knowledge” ( yada ).
  • Padawans gather in a training academy to learn ancient traditions that have been passed through the generations. Sounds like Hebrew school to me!
  • The Jedi must choose between the Dark Side and the Light Side of the Force. Judaism teaches that we must make choices throughout our lives, led by our  yetzer hatov  and  yetzer hara  – our good inclination and our evil inclination.
  • Judaism teaches that there is good in all of us, even when we choose evil. That’s a good thing for Darth Vader, who did  t’shuvah (repentance) by destroying the Empire at the end of his life.

Each year at the Passover seder, we retell the ancient story of our people’s moving from slavery into freedom. In the section of the Haggadah called The Four Children, we are told that we must teach our children this story in different ways, according to their knowledge, maturity, age, and character.

In 2013, I originally wrote a piece titled “The Four Children of  Star Wars ,” which used  Star Wars  characters to illustrate each of the traditional Four Children – but so much has happened in the  Star Wars  universe since then that it is clearly time for a rewrite!

If you will, please return with me to  a galaxy far, far away…

THE WISE CHILD: PRINCESS LEIA 

Wisdom in Judaism is, in part, about opting into community. Princess Leia is, in the end, a visionary who leads from within the midst of the community (unlike her brother Luke, who is more powerful with the Force but chooses isolation and thereby diminishes his influence).

Leia’s power comes from the relationships that she builds, and from her respect for tradition, peace, and goodness.

THE WICKED CHILD: KYLO REN

The medieval sage Maimonides teaches that to be human is to be made up of many tendencies: good and evil, generous and stingy, cruel and merciful ( Mishneh Torah Hilchot, Deot 1:1 ).

Kylo Ren is not wholly evil, his wickedness the result of his feeling like an outsider, and of his longing for recognition and validation. He seeks to satisfy these needs from the wrong powers (i.e. Supreme Leader Snoke and the Emperor) until, ultimately, he is able to turn inward, find the wellspring of his own goodness, and do the right thing.

THE SIMPLE CHILD: FINN

This is the most imperfect of the four designations, because Finn is, in fact, far from simple. He is a brave and thoughtful character who doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the movies. (Hey, J.J. Abrams, are you listening?) Like the Simple Child, though, Finn initially does not make decisions for himself. Having been kidnapped and raised to be a soldier, he knows nothing but the life of a Stormtrooper.

Like the Simple Child in the Haggadah, though, Finn’s determination compels him to ask questions, and it is his questioning – of himself, his role, and the First Order – that allows him to grow. As Finn begins to consider his own values, he removes his helmet and ultimately joins the Resistance.

THE CHILD WHO DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO ASK: REY

The fourth child has not yet begun to ask questions. Like Rey throughout her childhood, the Child Who Does Not Know How to Ask sits silently at the seder table, waiting to be taught.

Rey wants to help; she is good at heart and has a sense of her potential to do good, but she doesn’t know how to begin to get the answers. Instead, she waits on her home world for someone to show up and teach her.

Once the Resistance finds her – and especially once she finds a teacher in Leia – Rey’s potential is unleashed, leading her to become a powerful force for righteousness in the galaxy. Hers is a lesson about the power of education and the importance of ensuring that everyone has access to learning.

Chag Pesach Sameach, happy Passover – and may the Force be with you!

Rabbi Micah Streiffer serves as spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami, in Thornhill, ON. His writings, both nonfiction and fiction, have appeared the Times of Israel, The Forward, Jewish Values Online, The Jewish Literary Journal, The Canadian Jewish News, and a number of Reform Jewish publications. He sends special thanks to his son, Noam Streiffer, the family’s primary Star Wars expert, for helping him come up with which character fits each description.

[Image source: GIPHY]

-- Four Children
The Four Children Interacting

There are many imaginings of who the Four Children are as individuals, from their characteristics ("the wicked child is just misunderstood"/ "the wise child is a 'know-it-all'" etc) to which pop or political figures they represent (we'll let you decide...)

But one of the things we haven't seen — and which only occurred to us in our search for GIFs and preparation of this Haggadah — is the responsibility of the children to each other. While some sibling relationships are fraught with tension or conflict, there are opportunities within a chosen or formalized family for family members who disagree to interact and learn from each other.

Per the previous example, positioning Leia as the wise child and Rey as the one who doesn't ask, the fact that Rey finds in Leia a mentor, someone who can inspire her and give her the history she needs to understand the world and her place in it, is moving and inspiring to us who experience the original movie text, and this Haggadah reframing. Which of the children are we, in our family gatherings and friend groups? Who can we teach? Who can we learn frrom? Who can we embrace in the pursuit of knowledge, meaning and love?

[Image Source: GIPHY]

-- Exodus Story
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Leaving Egypt

Rey lived on Jakku. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Luke, and others — so many others — lived on Tatooine. (They may actually be the same planet.) But both have deserts and wandering heroes, who are searching for something they can't see but believe is beyond the horizon.

They leave lives and armies behind, and as the move toward a different destiny, they may seem small, insignificant or solitary. But heroes muster the strength, and yes, a little chutzpah, to dream beyond what they can see, to inspire others to accompany them out of enslavement — to harsh overlords or to their circumstances — and move toward justice and freedom. 

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-- Ten Plagues
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Plaguing Egypt

We don't have a heroic interpretation of each of the Ten Plagues for you, because a plague — even upon enemies — is terrible. (We're all too aware these days.) But one of the things that the Rugrats Passover episode makes us think about is how groundbreaking having a Passover episode of an animated show was; the Rugrats team has continued to include Jewish representation over the years and paved the way for other TV properties to begin incorporating characters and situations pertaining to Jewish beliefs and other specific belief systems. And that increased awareness of our own systems of meaning is good, and even can be read as parallel to what the Jews/Hebrews did in Egypt: they adhered to their Jewish identity, even amid oppression. 

Read more about the Rugrats Passover episode here.

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-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Deborah Missel and Esther Kustanowitz
Infinity Stone Dayenu

Infinity Stone Dayenu by Deborah Missel and Esther Kustanowitz 
 

How lucky we have been to have been gifted memorable moments with Earth’s mightiest heroes! If the Marvel Cinematic Universe had done but one of these kindnesses, it would have been enough (and more than we deserved!) — Dayenu! 

If Captain America had retrieved the Tesseract and defeated Red Skull, it would have been enough.

If Thor had saved the Nine Realms and protected the Reality Stone, it would have been enough.

If Peter Quill and the Guardians of the Galaxy had won the Power Stone in a dance-off, it would have been enough.

If Doctor Strange had mastered the Time Stone, it would have been enough. 

If the Avengers had used the Mind Stone to destroy Ultron and create Vision, it would have been enough. 

If the Avengers had suited up and searched all of time and space for the Infinity Stones, it would have been enough. 

If the Avengers had assembled against the odds to fight Thanos, it would have been enough.

If Black Widow had sacrificed herself for the Soul Stone, it would have been enough.* 

If Ant-Man had become large, then small, then a baby, then an old man, then back to regular Scott Lang, it would have been enough.

If there had been an Endgame time heist that allowed Steve Rogers a second chance at love, it would have been enough.

If Tony Stark had just said, I love you 3000, it would have been enough. 
 

*(actually maybe this was too much, but we did get a Black Widow movie after...)

[Image source: GIPHY]

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Dayenu As "What If?"

Dayenu — it would have been enough, or more than we deserved — asks us to consider alternate possibilities. What if there hadn't been an Exodus? What if there had been an Exodus, but no parting of the Red Sea? What if the sea had been parted, but no code of law had been given to the Israelites? And so on, and so on...it suggests some interesting and panic inducing possible outcomes for the stories we know so well we almost treat them as cliched.

Marvel has done this too, with comic books asking "What If," and a series that launched in 2021: what if Steve Rogers didn't get the super-soldier serum, and instead Peggy Carter did? What if everyone became zombies? What if Thanos was a good guy? What if T'Challah became Star-Lord and Killmonger became Black Panther? Shifting perspectives enables empathy and stimulates creativity, gives us a look at how characters may rise to their new circumstances: some may become heroes while others let power corrupt them.

Dayenu is not just a poem (or an earworm of a song that might even dispel "We Don't Talk About Bruno"), it's an approach to invigorating storytelling. What if we asked "what if?" about the stories we know backwards and forwards, the ones that are so familiar that we either hold them too sacred or, thanks to repetition, consider them rote and meaningless. What if Miriam had become the hero of the Exodus story, famous not just for timbrels and songs after crossing a sea, but for speaking in front of Pharaoh, demanding that her people be let go? What if Tzipporah, Moses' wife who is targeted with racist and xenophobic epithets, went with the team of spies to survey the land of Canaan? What if Moses had lived to see the people enter the land of Canaan after 40 years of wandering and complaining in the desert?

And in looking at this Haggadah, this year, what if we took every story and imagined it from a different perspective? It's not as subversive as it sounds — we can always return to the traditional stories — but asking "what if" can open us to possibility, new relevance and fresh connections.

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Rachtzah
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Heroes Make Sure We Wash Our Hands

Avengers, wash-semble!

Rachtzah means we're super close to dinner time, so it's time for a real handwashing: whether you've fought the Chitauri in the Battle of New York, or just been making sure the Seder dinner is ready on time, you're all heroes and deserve to take this moment to wash your hands from the residue of your efforts, say a prayer of gratitude, and come back to the table clean. 

[Image source: GIPHY]

Rachtzah
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Aquaman Walking Into A Second Handwashing Like...

This handwashing is the one that counts. Add a blessing of gratitude — "al netilat yadayim."

Pictured: Aquaman Jason Momoa becoming one with the ocean in what we like to call a "Reverse Red Sea Parting."

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Motzi-Matzah
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Pip Wants Second Breakfast, We'll Give Him Motzi Matzah

Don't worry, my fellow Hobbits...we're getting closer to the actual meal...we'll get you a little sandwich soon, so stay tuned! (And if we're up late enough, you'll get first breakfast right after we finish dinner.)

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Maror
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Bitter, Or Stimulating?: A Highly Logical Perspective on Maror

It's time for Maror, the Bitter Herb. This is not the Wakandan herb of leadership (because we couldn't find a GIF of it); instead it is a root that bites anyone who bites into it, filling their mouth with an unpleasant heat that, if the root is milder in flavor, fades over several minutes. It's meant to evoke the bitterness of slavery...oppression in an amuse bouche.

It's logical, if somewhat metaphorical, to draw a direct link between a bitter taste and a bitter experience. After all, the word is the same. But sometimes, sub in a different word, and it has the original meaning and then some: what if it were the "Stimulating Herb" instead of the "Bitter Herb"? True, there are other stimulating herbs, many of them even legal. But the substitution could lead us to a different logical conculsion: that the consumption of something bitter or unpleasant may actually lead to action, stimulated by that unusual taste, something that rouses us, that evokes physical disgust or a new level of awareness of the brokenness in our world.

Feeling this in our mouths, ingested into our bodies, might just inspire us to make a better world so we can all live long and prosper in freedom. Or at least, that's what we think Spock would say. 

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Koreich
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Will someone please get Tony Stark a sandwich?

Don't worry Tony, we have your sandwich. It's not exactly a cheeseburger, like we know you like; it's closer to that shwarma you tried after the Battle of New York: back in the day, the sages would have put together a righteous sandwich for you, made of lamb and maror, a bitter herb that's like horseradish — you know, the stuff that goes in a Bloody Mary — that we'd all eat together like Rabbi Hillel liked to do with his bunch of Talmudic Avengers. These days not everyone eats lamb, but if they do, there's a nutritional benefit, that it's high in absorbed iron, man. 

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Shulchan Oreich
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
The Avengers Eat Shawarma

The pita might not be kosher for Passover, the lamb shawarma is perfect for this point in the seder where we - and the Avengers - finally get to eat. 

[Image Source: GIPHY]

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Tzafun
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Revealing What Was Hidden, Finding What Was Lost

This is one of the final seder instances in which we conceal and reveal special holiday objects or foods. But hiding and finding the Afikoman isn't just peek-a-boo child's play; it's high drama that comments on appearance and reality.

So many superheroes wear masks to conceal their true identities, but the civilian and super sides may push against each other and create confusion about which side is the true self and which is the secret identity. Often, what's concealed isn't just a face, it's vulnerability, weakness, or emotion. Elsa of Arendelle has been told her whole life "conceal, don't feel," because her emotions are so powerful that they will put her or someone else in physical danger.

While not the case for most of us — when we get angry, we don't accidentally freeze our siblings — so many of us obscure our true selves from public view. Whether it's claiming a Facebook that's happier and more #blessed than we may feel or telling white lies to spare someone's feelings at the extent of our own integrity, we've all been there, in those moments that we hide ourselves away, suppress emotion, afraid to let it go, and to let ourselves go into the unknown.

As we find the lost afikoman, we reveal the hidden. Here we are, confronting the fact that we are nearing the end of the seder ritual. And although we're tired and maybe we're even ready for this whole thing to be over, this last bit of pageantry lets the unleavened bread take its curtain call, and remind us that whatever we conceal from ourselves, our loved ones or the world at large, it does not go away. It waits while hidden, for the reveal, for the reckoning. However we lead in our daily lives — with our intellects, with our bodies, with our emotions — it's only part of us, to be reconciled with the rest, toward wholeness. 

[Image Source: GIPHY]

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Bareich
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Thor Wants Another Cup

Like Thor, it's time for us to drink another cup! He's got coffee — takes a lot of caffeine to deal with Asgardians, especially his brother, Loki —but we'll take fruit of the vine in our glasses, as is our custom.

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Hallel
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Here's To You, Harry (or whatever your name is, person who is reading this Haggadah)

We move through stanzas of praise and gratitude — like magical spells and incantations — to the heroes, encouraging influences, and sources of strength in our lives:

Our teachers, who believed in us and taught us tough but essential lessons;

Our parents, who sheltered us and provided us with our connections to the past;

Our faith, in a Divine entity or an essential human kindess, or something else;

The friends and mentors we've found along the way, who share our blood or our sense of responsibility;

And we raise this last glass to them.

Grape juicium leviOH-sa!

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Nirtzah
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Nirtzah, Have We Reached

You've made it to the end of the Seder. No more training do you require; already know you that which you require. Yoda always said it best (even if often convolutedly). The Seder may have seemed, at points, to last 900 years, but when 900 years you reach, look as good you may not. Hopefully you've felt the flow of the force that follows the story of the Exodus, an event that has great historical and cultural significance, but also serves as a potent metaphor in modern times, encouraging us to move out of the narrow places and to seek freedom.

From here on, it's all Ewoks dancing and singing ("Yub Nub!"), so bang those drums and hug your loved ones, and remember the journey we took to get here.   

[Image Source: GIPHY]

Nirtzah
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
The Journey Continues

We are at the end and, yet, the journey has only just begun. Every new beginning is some other beginning's end. It's the circle of life and it moves us all, through despair and hope, through faith and love. And what binds us and the galaxy together is story, is prophecy fulfilled alongside our efforts to forge our own path and achieve what each of us is uniquely destined to do, to go where no one has gone before. 

Some people are born great, others have greatness thrust upon them. But one thing is clear: we could be heroes. At least, just for one day.

A happy and heroic Passover to all!

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Conclusion
Source : Esther Kustanowitz
Black Widow Has The Last Word

In compiling this Haggadah, one thing became clear; when it came to our pop culture heroes, there were lots of memes with fun catchphrases like "I could do this all day," and "live long and prosper" and "I'm Batman." But not so much when it comes to the women who share hero status with their male counterparts. Wonder Woman GIFs feature spinning, or amored ass-kicking, or diving into a lagoon. Most Natasha Romanoff GIFs are without any dialogue, just showing her dropping into a crouched position (a.k.a. "the Pose") or doing a backflip. Both are cool, but illustrate a challenge in terms of giving these women their words.

But we wanted to give these powerful women some balance in this Haggadah compilation, at the same time, giving some balance to the role that Jewish women have played in "making Passover happen." Of course, this is a gender binary statement; not all Passovers are made by women, not all men absent themselves from the preparation. But in many homes, prep and cleanup may fall disproportionally, when it comes to gender. Or as Nat might have said, "I'm always picking up after you boys." We've always thought that Natasha Romanoff might have Jewish ancestry; she's certainly embodying the self-sacrifice and martyrdom that many of us may associate with our Jewish mothers.

So whatever the balance of work is in your house over Passovers past, take a look around and notice who's picking up after whom. And, regardless of what you see, lend a helping hand or two. Remember how powerful a team is when it assembles to fight for justice and equality.

Next year in Jerusalem, a city whose name embodies fullness, completeness, wholeness.

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Songs
Source : Original: Esther D. Kustanowitz
The Plot of Wonder Woman Meets Chad Gadya

Origin Story: Someone I know kept saying "Gal Gadot," the name of the Israeli actress who plays "Wonder W oman" in the DC Movie Universe. The more she said it, the more my brain kept singing her name to "Chad Gadya," the Aramaic song about the one little goat. And so, this parody version was born, celebrating the narrative spirit of the traditional Passover song with all the plot spoilers of the 2017 film, Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot.

While this version of the Chad Gadya has no goats - and really, very little relation to the song Chad Gadya - it can provide a pop culture chuckle at the end of a long seder. Or maybe in the middle, depending on how big your four cups of wine are. Enjoy!

- Esther D. Kustanowitz

Gal Gadot (to the tune of Chad Gadya)

Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

1. Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

2. Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

3. Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

4. She discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

5. Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

6. Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

7. David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

8. Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

9. Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

10. Amazons are warriors on an island, Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!

11. Themyscira is a place of power, Amazons are warriors on an island, Diana's made of clay just like a dreidel, Antiope's her aunt who didn't make it, David Thewlis is obviously the villain, Steve Trevor brought war to Themyscira, Diana leaves her mom to go to London, she discovers babies, love and ice cream, Patty Jenkins is a great director, Justice League left a lot to be desired, Wonder Woman was really exciting, Gal Gadoooot, Gal Gadot!!!

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