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Source : Machar

We have come together this evening for many reasons. We are here because Spring is all around, the Earth is reborn, and it is a good time to celebrate with family and friends. We are here because we are Jews, because we are members of the Jewish nation, with its deep historic roots and its valuable old memories and stories.

We are here to remember the old story of the liberation of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt - a great struggle for freedom and dignity. We are here because the struggle for human freedom never stops. We are here to remember all people - Jews and non-Jews - who are still struggling for their freedom.

As we feel how wonderful and important it is for diverse peoples to come together, let us recite and then sing the words of HINNEH MAH TOV. 

HINNEH, MAH TOV - BEHOLD, HOW GOOD! (Adaptation* of T'hillim / Psalms 133.1)    

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when peoples* dwell together in unity!

Hinneh, mah tov u-mah naim shevet ammim* gam yahad! 

(*originally "brothers", or "achim")

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

It is said, there is nothing new under the sun, yet nothing remains the same. Against the backdrop of eternity the earth displays an ever-changing countenance. The sun rises and the sun sets, yet each day and each season is fresh and new.

Slowly, one season emerges from another. The harshness of ice and snow yields to gentle, nourishing showers. Inevitably, the cold, dark days succumb to the warmth and light of Spring. We rejoice in the warm light and rich blessings of this season.

The celebration of Passover represents the perennial rebirth and survival of the Jewish people and the world of nature. The light of these candles symbolizes a renewal of life, a reaffirmation of freedom. 


N'-varekh `et ha-`or ka-`asher niqqavets b'-tsavta` l'-hadliqnerotshelyomtov. B'-`or ha-herut n'-varekh`et ha-haiyim.


Let us bless the light as we gather together to kindle the festival candles. With the light of liberation let us bless life.

[The candles are lit.] 

Source : Machar


Let us all fill our glasses with the fruit of the vine.

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

Spring is the season of new growth and new life.
Every living thing must either grow, or die; growth is a sign and a condition of life.

Human beings are perhaps unique among the Earth's inhabitants. Our most significant growth takes place inwardly.
We grow as we achieve new insights, new knowledge, new goals.

Let us raise our cups to signify our gratitude for life,
and for the joy of knowing inner growth, which gives human life its meaning. Together, with raised cups, let us say: 


The fruit of the vine - with it, let us drink "To Life!"

Let us all now drink the first cup of the fruit of the vine. 


(Hebrew folk song)

Heve`-nu shalom alei-khem. 

Heve`-nu shalom alei-khem.
Heve`-nu shalom, shalom, shalom alei-khem.

We wish peace upon you all.

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.


Let us bless the fruit of the Earth.

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

Source : Machar


We have drunk the wine and tasted the special foods of the Passover celebration. They symbolize our attachment to the traditions of our culture, to freedom, and to life. To remind us of these values as we go back out into the world, at the end of our festival meal, we shall return to have a final taste of matsah - our symbol of suffering and liberation, of renewal in nature and humanity.

I am breaking this matsah into two pieces. One half I will return to the table.

[Leader breaks a matsah, sets down half, and holds up half as the aphiqoman.]

The other half I will wrap in a napkin and save until the end of the meal. This piece is called the 'APHIQOMAN'

Without it the seder cannot end, so I must make sure that it does not get lost. Of course, I am very forgetful, so I may need help finding it if I do misplace it. In fact, I manage to lose it every year - it ends up seemingly "hidden" (tsaphun). So just figure that I'll be asking all you younger folks to help me find it pretty soon. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

-- Four Questions
Source : Machar

Mah nishtanah ha-lailah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-leilot? mi-kol ha-leilot? 
Why is this night different from all other nights?

She-b-khol ha-leilot `anu `okhlin hamets u-matsah, hamets u-matsah, ha-lailah ha-zeh ha-lailah ha-zeh kulo matsah? 
On all other nights we eat either bread or matsah. Why, on this night, do we eat only matsah?

She-b-khol ha-leilot `anu `okhlin sh'`ar y'raqot, sh'`ar y'raqot, ha-lailah ha-zeh, ha-lailah ha-zeh maror, maror? 
On all other nights we eat herbs of any kind. Why, on this night, do we eat only bitter herbs?

She-b-khol ha-leilot `ein `anu matbilin `aphilu pa'am `ehat, `aphilu pa'am `ehat, ha-lailah ha-zeh ha-lailah ha-zeh sh'tei ph'amim? On all other nights, we do not dip our herbs even once. Why, on this night, do we dip them twice?

She-b-khol ha-leilot `anu `okhlin bein yoshvin u-vein m'subin, bein yoshvin u-vein m'subin, ha-lailah ha-zeh, ha-lailah ha-zeh kulanu m'subin? 
On all other nights, we eat either sitting or leaning. Why, on this night, do we eat while leaning?

As we continue our seder, we will answer these four questions about what makes this night different from all other nights. 

-- Exodus Story
Source : Machar

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

These questions are a central part of tonight's seder ceremony.
Yet before we answer them, let us tell a story of Jewish hope.
The tale of our people's first quest for freedom
from slavery in Egypt was written so long ago
that no one knows how much of it is fact and how much is fiction.
Like all good stories, however, its moral lessons are valid and important.

It is written that long ago, during a time of famine,
the ancient Israelites traveled to Egypt.
According to this legend, the Israelites at that time were all in a single family -
Jacob and his children.

One of Jacob's sons was Joseph.
He was so wise that the ruler of Egypt - the Pharaoh -
made Joseph a leader over all the people of Egypt.

But as time passed, another Pharaoh became the ruler of Egypt.
He did not remember about Joseph and his wise leadership.
This new Pharaoh turned the Israelites into slaves,
and burdened them with heavy work and sorrow.

After the Israelites were in Egypt for over 400 years, a man arose among them.
He demanded that Pharaoh let his people go!
Many times he risked his life to insist on the freedom of his people,
until he finally succeeded.

At our Passover Seder, we celebrate the story of Moses
and the people he led out of slavery 3000 years ago.
We celebrate the struggle of all people to be free.
Throughout the centuries, the story of Moses and the exodus from Egypt
has inspired Jews and non-Jews in times of persecution and hardship.

Let us remember that the thirst for freedom exists in all people.
Many centuries after the legendary time of Moses,
African people were brought to America as slaves.
These slaves longed for freedom,
and they were inspired by the story of Moses and the ancient Israelites.

When the slaves in America sang "Go Down Moses,"
they were thinking of their own leaders who were working to end slavery.
Let us now sing that beautiful song.



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 in Egypt land, Tell old Pharaoh
To let my people go.
When Moses took them from their toil, Let my people go!
He led them all to freedom's soil Let my people go!



[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

The freedom we celebrate tonight is not only freedom from slavery.
It is also the freedom to live in peace,
with dignity and with hope for a bright future.
This constant vision has inspired the Jewish people
since the ancient times when the Bible was written.

For centuries, most Jews lived in Europe,
where they were often persecuted.
They were driven from place to place,
and their lives were often filled with terror and despair.

There came a time when many Jewish families learned of a place called America,
where people could live without fear.
This was the promise that America held out to them and to many other suffering people.

By the thousands, and then by the millions, year after year they crossed a large ocean.
Enduring separation from all they had known,
they faced the dangers of a long voyage before reaching the shores of America.

For a time, many suffered from poverty and disease.
Yet their courage, perseverance, and skills,
helped to advance the freedoms that we celebrate here tonight.

This evening, as we celebrate our own freedom
let us take notice of the on-going struggles toward freedom
here and in many other parts of the world.

-- Exodus Story
Source : Machar

Let us celebrate all these struggles with our freedom song, HERUT L'-YISRA`EL.

Herut, herut l'-Yisra`el.
Herut, herut la-`adam.
Herut, herut l'-Yisra`el.
Herut, herut la-olam. 

Freedom for the Jewish people, Yisrael.
Freedom for humanity.
Freedom for the world. 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Machar

Let us all refill our cups.

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

Tonight we drink four cups of the fruit of the vine.
There are many explanations for this custom.
They may be seen as symbols of various things:
the four corners of the earth, for freedom must live everywhere;
the four seasons of the year, for freedom's cycle must last through all the seasons;
or the four matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel.

A full cup of wine symbolizes complete happiness.
The triumph of Passover is diminished by the sacrifice of many human lives
when ten plagues were visited upon the people of Egypt.
In the story, the plagues that befell the Egyptians resulted from the decisions of tyrants,
but the greatest suffering occurred among those who had no choice but to follow.

It is fitting that we mourn their loss of life, and express our sorrow over their suffering.
For as Jews and as Humanists we cannot take joy in the suffering of others.
Therefore, let us diminish the wine in our cups
as we recall the ten plagues that befell the Egyptian people.


As we recite the name of each plague, in English and then in Hebrew,
please dip a finger in your wine and then touch your plate to remove the drop.


Blood - Dam (Dahm)
Frogs - Ts'phardea (Ts'phar-DEH-ah)
Gnats - Kinim (Kih-NEEM)
Flies - Arov (Ah-ROV)
Cattle Disease - Dever (DEH-vehr)
Boils - Sh'hin (Sh'-KHEEN)
Hail - Barad (Bah-RAHD)
Locusts - `Arbeh (Ar-BEH)
Darkness - Hoshekh (KHO-shekh)
Death of the Firstborn - Makkat B'khorot (Ma-katB'kho-ROT) 

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

In the same spirit, our celebration today also is shadowed
by our awareness of continuing sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world.
Ancient plagues are mirrored in modern tragedies.

In our own time, as in ancient Egypt, ordinary people suffer and die
as a result of the actions of the tyrants who rule over them.
While we may rejoice in the defeat of tyrants in our own time,
we must also express our sorrow at the suffering of the many innocent people
who had little or no choice but to follow.


As the pain of others diminishes our joys,
let us once more diminish the ceremonial drink of our festival
as we together recite the names of these modern plagues:

Pollution of the Earth Indifference to Suffering

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

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Machar

Dedicated To The Struggle For Peace And Freedom

The second cup of wine is dedicated
not only to the struggles of the Jewish people,
but to all people seeking a secure life free of fear and persecution.
We hope and work particularly for the Israelis and the Palestinians
that they may all learn to live together in freedom and peace.

Let us strive to fulfill the words of the prophet Micah:
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not take up sword against nation, they shall never again know war.
But they shall sit every one under their vines and fig trees,
and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4.3-4).


Let us all raise our glasses in a toast to peace and freedom for all.
P'ri ha-gaphen - `itto, nishteh
"L'-Shalom u-l'-Herut!" 


The fruit of the vine - with it, let us drink
"To Peace and Freedom!" 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Machar

Just as the food of our Passover seder nourishes our bodies, our sharing and our reflections at this seder uplift our spirits. Let us celebrate the bounty of our lives by singing our version of that old favorite "DAIYE-NU." 

["Daiye-nu" means "Enough for us."]

`Im yesh la-nu herute-nu (3x)

Dai, daiye-nu, dai, daiye-nu, dai, daiye-nu, daiye-nu, daiye-nu. (repeat)

`Im yesh la-nu simhate-nu (3x)


`Im yesh la-nu tiqva-te-nu (3x)
daiye-nu. /UbH ̄S©


If we have our freedom, it is enough for us.
If we have our happy occasion (our seder), it is enough for us.
If we have our hope, it is enough for us. 

Source : Machar


[Matsah held up for all to see.]

MATSAH - Why do we eat matsah?
Matsah is the symbol of our affliction and our freedom.
Legend has it that when Moses and his followers fled Egypt,
they moved so quickly that the bread they baked did not have time to rise.

However, scholars have noted that long before the Jews celebrated Passover,
Middle Eastern farmers celebrated a spring festival of unleavened bread.
This was a festival where unleavened bread was made
from the fresh barley grain newly harvested at this time of the year.

The old fermented dough was thrown out
so that last year's grain would not be mixed with this year's.
Therefore, the new season began with the eating of unleavened bread - matsah.
Later on, the Jewish people incorporated this agricultural festival
into the celebration of freedom and renewal we now call Passover.

Let us now say a blessing for the matsah.



Notsi`matsah-lehem min ha-`arets
- k'dei she-nistapeq v'-nit-kalkelkula-nu.


Let us bring forth matsah - food from the land -
so we all may be satisfied and sustained.

Let us all now eat a piece of matsah.

Source : Machar

[Maror held up for all to see.]

MAROR--Why do we eat maror?
Tradition says that this bitter herb is to remind us of the time of our slavery.
We force ourselves to taste pain so that we may more readily value pleasure.

Scholars inform us that bitter herbs were eaten at spring festivals in ancient times.
The sharpness of the taste awakened the senses
and made the people feel at one with nature's revival.
Thus, maror is the stimulus of life,
reminding us that struggle is better than the complacent acceptance of injustice.


As a blessing for the maror, let us all sing this song about striving to be fully human.
Then we will all take a taste of horseradish on a piece of matsah. 

(Mishnah, Pirqei `Avot 2.6)

hishtaddel lih'yot `ish.

Where people are less than human,
strive to be fully human. 

Source : Machar

We have answered the four traditional questions, but there are still more questions to be answered.
There are other special foods on our Seder plate:

a bone (z'roa) or a beet,
a roasted egg (beitsah)
an orange,
and, many people's favorite, the sweet condiment (haroset).

Why are they here?


Z'ROA can mean a shankbone - the bone of a forelimb - or a vegetable.
This lamb's bone is the symbol of the ancient shepherd's festival of Pesah or Passover.

It was celebrated at the time of the full moon in the month lambs and goats were born. At that time, each family would sacrifice a young lamb or goat at a spring feast. Jews ended these sacrifices when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed.

Since z'roa also means vegetable, a beet can be used instead of an animal bone on the seder plate.
The Jewish people are very diverse, so the rabbis who wrote the Talmud acknowledged this vegetarian alternative.


Why do we have a beitsah on the seder plate?
Beitsah is the egg of life, a symbol of the birth of the young in spring. Each of us begins as an egg and grows to adulthood. The egg reminds us of our evolutionary past and of the gifts of human inheritance. But the egg is fragile. It represents potential that can be destroyed. Left alone, its life would perish.

Growing life needs warmth and love and security, guidance, hope, and vision. To achieve their full potential, human beings need the support and encouragement of family and community. Beitsah symbolizes the fragility and interdependence of life.

[All who so desire may now eat a piece of egg.]


Why have we added an orange to our seder plate?
We place this fruit among our ceremonial foods as a symbol of our efforts to make sexual minorities feel acknowledged in our community. We recognize the contributions made by these family members and friends.

By inviting and welcoming all with open hearts and open minds, we celebrate diversity and freedom. We put an orange on our seder plate as a new symbol of liberation around sexuality and gender roles.

[All may eat a piece of orange.]


Why do we eat haroset?
Fruits, nuts, spices, and wine are combined to make this sweet condiment. Being the color of clay or mortar, it reminds us of the bricks and mortar used by slaves - Jews and others - in building the Pharaohs' palaces and cities. Yet the taste of haroset is sweet, and thus reminds us of the sweetness of freedom.


Let us now all eat haroset on a piece of matsah.
We now make a little sandwich - called a "korekh" or a "Hillel sandwich;" tradition credits Rabbi Hillel with creating this sandwich 2000 years ago. By eating some bitter herb (maror) and some haroset between two pieces of matsah, you can taste the "bittersweet" meaning of Passover. 

Source : Machar

Let us all refill our cups.

[Take turns reading. Each person is invited to read a grouped set of lines - or to pass.]

During this festival of life, let us remember our lost sisters and brothers - the millions of Jews enslaved and killed in the Holocaust. We remember them along with all the others who suffered.

They were all parts of the rainbow - of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, of progressive activists, resistance fighters, and people with disabilities. Their anguish and death is with us, even in our times of celebration.

We resolve that their memory shall not be lost. We accept the responsibility of working to prevent such suffering from ever again occurring on this earth.

We remember the heroism of those who fought against fascism and tyranny in the forests and the cities of Europe.Men, women, and children who loved freedom and humanity struggled with their own hands against the powerful armies of those who sought to oppress and kill them.

We remember the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising on the dawn of the first day of Passover, April 19, 1943.  The Nazis were coming to complete the deportation of the remaining Jews to the death camps.

A shot rang out on Nalevki Street, signaling the beginning of this Jewish revolt. A few hundred Jews with a few guns and hand grenades had decided to resist the tremendous power of the German army and the Gestapo. The courageous men and women of the Jewish Fighting Organization held out for forty-two days.

Although few of the Jewish fighters survived the battle, the story of their courage will never die. Similar acts of resistance took place in Minsk, Vilna, Bialystock, in the cities and towns of Poland, and even in the death camps - Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz. 


We were slaves in Egypt and we were slaves in fascist Europe. We have much to remember.
Let us raise our glasses to those who were taken from us and to those who fought for freedom and life. 

P'ri ha-gaphen-`itto,nishteh "L'-Haiyim!"   


"L'- Haiyim!" 

Source : Machar

Let us all refill our cups.

Leader picks up cup for all to see.

This is the cup of hope.

The seder tradition involves pouring a cup for the Hebrew prophet Elijah. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.

Yet the tasks of saving the world - once ascribed to prophets, messiahs and gods - must be taken up by us mere mortals, by common people with shared goals. Working together for progressive change,we can bring about the improvement of the world, tiqqun ha-olam - for justice and for peace, we can and we must.


Let us now symbolically open the door of our seder to invite in all people of good will and all those in needto work together with us for a better world.Let us raise our fourth cup as we dedicate ourselves to tiqqun olam, the improvement of the world.


"L' Tiqqun Olam!"

All drink the fourth cup.

Source : Machar

[Announces the name of the child or children who found the `aphiqoman.]
Let us continue our seder by eating one last little piece of matsah to leave us with the taste of freedom's struggles.

[Everyone eat a last piece of matsah.]

Now, let us conclude our seder.


We have recalled struggles against slavery and injustice.
We have sung of freedom and peace.
We revisited times of persecution and times of fulfillment.
Only half a century ago, Nazis committed the crimes of the Holocaust.
Today, as Jews in the United States, we are more free than at any other time.

Yet Jewish history shows that life is ever-changing,
and we must learn how to survive under all conditions.
When we are persecuted, we must struggle for our own freedom.
The more freedom we attain,
the more we must help others attain freedom.

This is the lesson of Passover. This is why we celebrate the Festival of Freedom.