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Source : Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah

by Julie Iny    

Some Jews prepare for Pesach by getting rid of all their hametz. Last year, I inadvertently created a ritual for a near reenactment of the 40 days and 40 nights our people spent wandering in the desert when I decided to learn how to make halaik, the date syrup that is the critical and divine ingredient of Iraqi charoset. 

In years past, my Aunt Rachel, keeper of many Iraqi and Indian-Iraqi culinary and cultural traditions, would, because she loves me, send me a bottle of homemade halaik carefully wrapped for its journey from Montreal to Oakland via Los Angeles. My friends who have tasted Iraqi charoset, made of halaik and chopped nuts, have dubbed this intensely flavorful and hard- to-come-by syrup “liquid gold.” They are typically so enthralled by its sweet taste, that they fail to notice how its appearance serves to remind us of the bricks and mortar of slavery in Egypt. 

In these times when many traditional cultures are being lost, I hope there will be people who work to preserve the rich diversity of languages, traditions and practices of non-European Jews. So, with this in mind, I called my Aunt Rachel who happily faxed me “Aunty Rachel and Granny’s Halaik” recipe, which included strategies for avoiding date-syrup scheming squirrels and ants. 

I bought 5 pounds of dates from Costco. Then I poured boiling water onto the dates and mashed them in the pot, leaving them uncovered overnight. The next step felt like about 36 of the 40 days and nights. I had to use porous fabric and squeeze date pulp to extract juice – one scoop at a time. I ultimately safety-pinned a contraption together to keep the dates from squeezing out on all sides. Day after day, my roommates would wake up and go to bed with me at the kitchen table squeezing dates. 

Finally, I was able to boil the date water, which I then had to pass through a cloth bag yet again. I brought the now pulp-free date juice to a near boil and let it simmer for over an hour as I kept it company. Once cool, I covered it and put it in the sun to thicken - indoors so as to avoid the date- syrup scheming squirrels and ants my aunt warned me about. 

As I undertook this journey in pursuit of liquid gold, I had several revelations. Our people probably didn’t work 45-hour weeks and then prepare for holidays. Halaik is good on matza brei. Our people probably organized the process so that a few folks made Halaik for the whole neighborhood. Halaik is good over labne on matzah. Our people would probably be grateful to know that in Oakland, California, this Iraqi Jewish woman didn’t go buy a jar of factory-made date syrup. Oh, and did I mention, Halaik is good. 

Julie Iny is an Indian-Iraqi/Russian American Jewish activist in Oakland, California. 

Source : Love and Justice In Times of War Haggadah

[Yiddish for: In Struggle]    

by Margot Meitner    

Passover is my favorite chag (holiday). It’s the one in which I have always taken the opportunity to make a STATEMENT: Sometimes a political statement about my personal life; other times a personal statement about my political life. There was the time I plopped an orange on the Seder plate (representing the role of women in Judaism), or the time I nervously placed a crust of bread there (representing Queers in Judaism). There was the time I led the Seder in lieu of my father and my uncle (my budding feminism); the time I forced my family to be filmed on Passover (the budding documentary filmmaker); and the time I kept asking questions about my family’s experience in the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust).

Who can forget the interracial and interfaith seders, the union seder, and the sweatshop liberation seder? And then there was the time I contaminated my local Bay Area vegan seder with my contribution of gefilte fish (my sassy New Yorker intolerance for West Coast new ageism, which I have since succumbed to). The story of Exodus that we recount at Passover has evolved into a spiritual model that inspires my statement- making (aka, my progressive political work).

The Exodus story of liberation depicts the centrality of the Divine concern for the oppressed. Moving away from a source of oppression seems to be the immediate goal. But the beautiful thing about the Exodus story is that we wander through the desert never to quite reach Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel)—our destination. This forces us to focus more on the journey and the struggle. I have come to accept that the world will never be the one I hope for in my lifetime. But heartbreaking as it sometimes is to know that I will never reach my destination, it is the value that Exodus places on the journey and the struggle that sustains my political work. It is my own Eretz Yisrael—my vision of love, peace, and justice that guides me and enables me, each Passover, to continue to make a STATEMENT. 

"Passover" By Yehuda Amichai

My father was a god and did not know it. He gave me The Ten Commandments neither in thunder nor in furry; neither in fire nor in cloud But rather in gentleness and love. And he added caresses and kind words and he added “I beg You,” and “please.” And he sang “keep” and “remember” the Shabbat In a single melody and he pleaded and cried quietly between one utterance and the next , “Do not take the name of God in vain,” do not take it, not in vain, I beg you, “do not bear false witness against your neighbor.” And he hugged me tightly and whispered in my ear “Do not steal. Do not commit adultery. Do not murder.” And he put the palms of his open hands On my head wit the Yom Kippur blessing. “Honor, love, in order that your days might be long On the earth.” And my father’s voice was white like the hair on his head. Later on he turned his face to me one last time Like on the day when he died in my arms and said I want to add Two to the Ten Commandments: The eleventh commandment – “Thou shall not change.” And the twelfth commandment – “Thou must surely change.” So said my father and then he turned from me and walked off Disappearing into his strange distances.

Source :
Iraqi Passover Haggadah, 1902

After Treatment: Passover Haggadah, 1902. A Haggadah is the order of the Passover service recounting the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery and their exodus from Egypt, One of very few Hebrew manuscripts recovered from the Mukhabarat, Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence Headquarters, this Haggadah was hand-lettered and decorated by an Iraqi youth.

Source :,

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.

Source :,

The Jews of Ethiopia strongly identify with the story of Passover. In 1985, they had an exodus of their own, where they took almost 8,000 Jews from Sudan to Israel. They commemorate this by breaking all of their dished and making new ones. This symbolizes breaking from the past and starting over.

Some Ethiopian Jews have no Haggadahs so they read about the Pesach story directly from the Torah. They make their own matzahs from chickpea flour. On the morning of the seder, a lamb would be slaughtered. They also refrain from eating fermented dairy like yogurt, butter, or cheese.

Source :

What are the requirements for karpas? It needs to be fruit of the earth, not of the tree or vine.

Where does it come from? From the Greek word karpos, meaning fresh raw vegetable. Karpas also comes from similar words for the color green in a number of different ancient languages. For example, karpas was the denotation for the color green in Farsi, and was the name for the color green according to Rashi (old French). Karpos was one of the original courses in the Greek symposium that many consider to be an influence on the shape and format of the seder. Even today, in Italy, there is a  tradition of starting a meal with pizimonio, a raw vegetable antipasti course.

Karpas  and "carpet" have something in common - and no, carpet is not the Sefardi pronunciation.

We all know  karpas  כרפס is the vegetable - often parsley or celery - eaten as a sort of appetizer at the Pesach Seder. What is the origin of the word?

There are those that claim it comes from the Persian word  karafs   (or  karats, according to Klein), meaning parsley. Others claim that it derives from the Greek  karpos, meaning "fruit of the soil."  Karpos  originates in the Indo-European root kerp, meaning "to gather, to harvest." Other words from the same root include "harvest", and "carpet", because it was made of unraveled, "plucked" fabric.

One very similar word that does not appear to have any etymological connection (some interesting drashot notwithstanding) is the word  karpas  appearing in the Book of Esther (1:6), meaning "fine cotton or linen". I won't go into detail about that meaning of  karpas , since a big post on cotton should be coming up soon. However, Mar Gavriel presents an interesting theory here, that the pronunciation of  karpas  the vegetable was influenced by  karpas  the fabric:

According to Prof. Guggenheimer (in his book The Scholar's Haggadahir?t=balashonhebre-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=0765760401), the words karpas (fine white linen) and karafs (celery) are both Farsi. Whoever provided the vowel-points for the mediaeval song "Qaddêsh u-Rechatz" only knew the consonants KRPS from the Meghilla, so he vocalized them as he had found them there.
Source :

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.

Maggid - Beginning
Source :

During Maggid, Syrian Jews throw sacks of matzah over their shoulders and say a special verse in Hebrew about leaving the Egypt in haste.

-- Four Questions
Source :

Three Questions

There is a Sefardic (Iraqi or Afghani) custom of turning to the person beside you, asking these three
questions, and offering the three brief answers. Try this, and see what opens in you.

 Who are you? (I am Yisrael.)
 Where are you coming from? (I am coming from Mitzrayim.)
 Where are you going? (I am going to Yerushalayim.)

from the Velveteen Rabbi

-- Four Questions
Source : Dr Maurice M. Mizrahi, Fort Belvoir Congregation, Virginia

Sephardim recite the Four Questions in the following order: 

1. "On all other nights, we do not dip even once. Why on this night do we dip twice?"

2. "On all other nights we eat bread or matzah. Why on this night do we eat only matzah? 

3. "On all other nights, we eat all kinds of herbs. Why on this night do we eat only maror? 

4. "On all other nights, we eat either sitting or reclining. Why on this night do we eat only reclining?

I could not find a source explaining the reason for the difference.

-- Four Questions
Source :


Tate ich vil bei dir fregen di fir kashes:

Vos iz Anderesh fun der Nacht fun Pesach fun ale necht fun a gants yor?

1) Di ershte kashe iz,

Ale necht fun a gants yor tunken mir nisht ayn afileh eyn mol, ober di nacht fun peysach, tunken mir ayn tsvey mol — ayn mol karpas in zaltz vasser, di tsveyte mol maror in charoses.

2) Di tsveyte kashe iz,

Ale necht fun a gants yor esn mir chomets ader matseh, ober di nakht fun peysakh, esn mir nor matseh.

3) Di drite kashe iz,

Ale necht fun a gants yor esn mir alerlay grintsen, ober di nacht fun peysach, esn mir nor bitere grintsen.

4) Di ferte kashe iz,

Ale necht fun a gants yor esn mir say zitsndikerheit un say ongeleynterheit, ober di nakht fun peysach, esn mir nor ongeleynterheit.

Tate ich hob bei dir gefrekdt di fir kashes yetzt gib mir a teretz.

-- Four Questions
Source : Kulanu Blog (

Below the Four Questions with a translation into Ladino (Medieval Spanish)
Abajo las <<Cuatro Preguntas>> traducidas en Ladino (el judio-espaÃnol medieval)

“Kuanto fue demudada la noshada

a esta mas ke todas las noshadas?
Ke en todas las noshadas non mos entinyentes afilu vez una  la noshada la esta dos vezes.
Ke en todas las noshadas mos komientes levdo o sesenya i la noshada la esta todo el sesenya.
Ke en todas las nohadas mos komientes resto de vedruras i la noshada la esta lishuga.
ke en todas las noshadas mos komientes i bevientes tanto asentados i tanto areskovdados i   la noshada la esta todos mos areskovdados”.
Why Should this Night be Different from All Other Nights?
Because on all other nights we eat both chametz and matzah, on this night only matzah
On all other nights we eat all sorts of greens, but on this night we eat bitter herbs
On all other nights we dip only once, but tonight we dip (our vegetables) twice
On all other nights we eat upright, but tonight we eat leaning toward the left)
-- Four Questions
Source : Love and Justice Haggadah

Kuanto fue demudada la noche la esta mas ke todas las noches?

Ke en todas las noches non nos entinyentes afilu vez una, i la noche la esta dos vezes?

Ke en todas las noches nos comientes levdo o sesenya i la noche la esta todo el sesenya?

Ke en todas las noches nos comientes resto de vedruras i la noche la esta lechugua?

Ke en todas las noches nos comientes i bevientes tanto asentados i tanto arescovdados i la noche la esta todos nos arescovdados?

-- Four Questions
Source : Under One Canopy: Readings in Jewish Diversity (Ed. Karen Primack)

Ma Nishtana in Luganda

Tranlated by Gershom Sizomu

Compiled by Murray F. Spiegel and Rickey Stein

Lwakyi ekyiro kyino kyanjawulo kubiro ebilala byonna?

Mubiro ebilala byonna tulya emigati emizimbulukuse oba egitali

Mizimbulukuse; mukyiro kyino tulya emigati egitali mizimbulukuse zokka

Mubiro ebilala byonna tulya enva zonna zonna; mukyiro kyino tulya enva

Ezikawa zokka.

Mubiro ebilala byonna tetukoza omulundi nogumu mukyiro kyino tukoza emirundi ebiri. Mubiro ebilala byonna tulya tutudde oba nga tweganzise; mukyiro kyino tulya tweganzise.

Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we may eat either leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night only unleavened bread, but on this night only unleavened bread. On all other nights we may eat any species of herbs, but on this night only bitter herbs. On all other nights we do not dip even once but on this night we dip twice.

On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we all recline.

-- Four Questions
Source :

¿Qué hace diferente a esta noche de todas las [demás] noches? ¿Ma nishtaná haláila hazé micól haleilót...

1) En todas las noches no precisamos sumergir ni siquiera una vez, ¡y en esta noche lo hacemos dos veces! ...shebejól haleilót éin ánumatbilín afílu paám eját, haláila hazé shtéi peamím?

2) En todas las noches comemos jametz o matzá, ¡en esta noche solamente matzá! ...shebejól haleilót ánu ojlín jamétz umatzá, haláila hazé kuló matzá?

3) En todas las noches comemos cualquier clase de verdura, ¡esta noche maror! ...shebejól haleilót ánu ojlín sheár ieracót, haláila hazé marór?

4) En todas las noches comemos sentados erguidos o reclinados, ¡esta noche todos nos reclinamos!

-- Four Questions

What makes this night different from all [other] nights?

1) On all nights we need not dip even once, on this night we do so twice?

2) On all nights we eat chametz or matzah, and on this night only matzah?

3) On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night maror?

4) On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline?


Mah nishtanah halyla hazeh mikol halaylot

1) She'bechol halaylot ain anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat, halyla hazeh shtei pe'amim?

2) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim chametz o matza, halyla hazeh kulo maztah?

3) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim she'ar yerakot, halyla hazeh maror?

4) She'bechol halaylot anu ochlim bain yoshvin bain mesubin, halyla hazeh kulanu mesubin?


Pourquoi cette nuit se différencie-t-elle de toutes les autres nuits?

1) Toutes les nuits, nous ne sommes pas tenus de tremper même une seule fois, cette nuit nous le faisons deux fois?

2) Toutes les nuits, nous mangeons du 'Hametz ou de la Matzah, cette nuit, seulement de la Matzah?

3) Toutes les nuits, nous mangeons n'importe quel sorte de légumes, cette nuit, du Maror?

4) Toutes les nuits, nous mangeons assis ou accoudés, cette nuit, nous sommes tous accoudés?


¿Qué hace diferente a esta noche de todas las [demás] noches?

1) En todas las noches no precisamos sumergir ni siquiera una vez, ¡y en esta noche lo hacemos dos veces?

2) En todas las noches comemos jametz o matzá, ¡en esta noche solamente matzá?

3) En todas las noches comemos cualquier clase de verdura, ¡esta noche maror?

4) En todas las noches comemos sentados erguidos o reclinados, ¡esta noche todos nos reclinamos!


Perché è diversa questa sera da tutte le altre?

1) Perché tutte le sere non intingiamo neppure una volta questa sera lo facciamo due volte?

2) Perché tutte le sere noi mangiamo chamètz e matzà questa sera soltanto matzà?

3) Perché tutte le sere noi mangiamo qualsiasi verdura questa sera maròr?

4) Perché tutte le sere noi mangiamo e beviamo sia seduti e sia adagiati, ma questa sera siamo tutti adagiati?


Was unterscheidet diese Nacht von allen anderen Nächten?

In allen anderen Nächten brauchen wir nicht ein einziges Mal einzutunken, in dieser Nacht zweimal?

In allen anderen Nächten können wir Gesäuertes und Ungesäuertes essen, in dieser Nacht nur Ungesäuertes?

In allen anderen Nächten können wir verschiedene Kräuter essen, in dieser Nacht nur bittere Kräuter?

In allen anderen Nächten können wir freisitzend oder angelehnt essen, in dieser Nacht sitzen wir alle angelehnt?


Oneul pameun piongso pamdeul kwa pikiohalte otoke tareumnika?

Piongso pameneun han bonto chikoso mokzi aneunde, oneul pameneun we tubonina chikoso mokseumnika?

Piongso pameneun chametzto mokko, matzahto mokneunde, oneul pameneun we matzahman mokseumnika?

Piongso pameneun yoro yachereur mokneunde, oneul pameneun we maror mokseumnika?

Piongso pameneun hori pioso ankito hago, kideso ankito haneunde, oneul pameneun we uri modu ta kideso anjaya hamnika?

-- Exodus Story
Source : Center for Jewish History Archives
American Soviet Jewry Movement Advertisement

Photo by Center for Jewish History, NYC on Flickr

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Dr Maurice M. Mizrahi, Fort Belvoir Congregation, Virginia

Now let's talk about the ten plagues. There was no dipping of fingers in wine. We were much too refined for that! My mother would walk up to my father with a large bowl and a glass of water. My father would recite the plagues one by one, and for each plague he would pour a bit of wine in the bowl from a special large wineglass, and my mother would pour a bit of the water. It was all done under the table - nobody was supposed to look at the "plagues" for fear of being "contaminated"! Then my mother, without looking directly at the bowl, and with the rest of us looking in another direction, would go to the bathroom and flush the "plagues" down the toilet! I remember fear traveling down my spine...

The wine was said to represent justice and the water mercy. Justice tempered with mercy is how God is operates in the Jewish tradition.

-- Ten Plagues
Source :

In Yemen, instead of spilling ten drops of wine from their cups when the 10 plagues are mentioned, they pour 10 drops from one glass to another and throw that glass into the garden to cast away the plague.

Matsot sucrées à l'orange

Matsot "La Bienveillante", traditionally eaten by Algerian Jews. They are flavored with orange and wine and were originally made in the Algerian town of Oran. They are still very popular in France. 
Source :,

In Cuba, Jews are poor and can't access all of the fruits needed to make Charoset, so they use matzah, honey, cinnamon, and wine instead. In Gibraltar, a British overseas territory on the coast of Spain, they put brick dust in Charoset to resemble the mortar used during slavery. In India, Charoset contains raisins, dates, and sesame paste. In Spain, they put dates, apricots, pistachios, pine nuts, and coconuts in the Charoset.

Source :

In Libya, before Passover, women would grind flour for matzah for 7 days while the men took chalk from the mountains to make whitewash. Then, they would paint their houses inside and out. Until the Seder, everyone slept outside.

Commentary / Readings

Our First Passover By Natalia Nikova

It was April 1980. My mother, my teenage daughter, and I were flying from Rome to New York City. Our journey started two months earlier in Leningrad, where after a long waiting period we were allowed to emigrate. We stayed a week in Vienna and a month and a half in Rome. Our documents were thoroughly checked, fingerprints were taken, and finally we got permission to settle in the United States.

Looking out the window as the airplane was descending toward Kennedy Airport, my heart was pounding with uncertainty and anticipation. My future will be here, in this city, I was thinking. At that moment, I saw my life as an endless corridor with many doors. Behind each door something was waiting: a challenge, a problem, maybe a solution.

My distant relatives, who were recent immigrants themselves, met us in the airport. We would stay with them in their Brooklyn apartment, where we were surrounded with love and attention and received plenty of advice. That was a kind of honeymoon. However, after two months we moved into our own place. My daughter, who already spoke excellent English, went to a local Public School. My mother got a monthly government check and food stamps. Meanwhile, I needed to find a job, and fast. Learning English was certainly a priority. But as a musician I could start giving piano lessons right away. The only thing was, I didn't have a piano. Buying an instrument was out of the question but I hoped to find somebody who could give one to me. I pinned a note on a bulletin board at our local Jewish Community Center, and waited.

Soon thereafter, I got a call from a man who introduced himself as Joe Brodsky. He said that his neighbor had an upright piano to give away. I was eager to see it, and Joe offered to drive me there. The next afternoon I was waiting outside of my building when a big convertible pulled up. Joe was a short wiry looking man with a big nose, hollow cheeks, and bright blue eyes. He wore a black suit, a white shirt, a black tie, and a black fedora hat. While he was driving, Joe mentioned that he belongs to a community of Lubavitcher Jews where he lives with his wife, a daughter, and a son.

After short ride we arrived at a street with neat rows of houses and identical small lawns. We stopped in front of one, got out and rang the doorbell. A woman opened the door and welcomed us into her living room. She wore a headscarf and a calico dress. There was a clamor of children's voices in the background and our hostess left us immediately. The piano was standing against a wall, tightly squeezed between a monumental mahogany chest of drawers and a couch. I approached with anticipation and pressed one of its keys. But there was no sound. I opened the top and looked inside. The piano was filled with toys, and it had just a few strings here and there.

On the way back, Joe told me that his family came from Poland. During the Second World War, they were transferred to Siberia. Russian anti-Semitism hadn't yet spread that far, so the families of Jews dressed in strange outfits and with different beliefs were still warmly received. Joe's family was thriving there. Joe hinted that he had had a lot of fun with Siberian girls. In short, Joe loved Russians and was eager to help us. This is how, unbeknownst to us, we were temporarily adopted in the Lubavitcher community.

The following Thursday, when we were all sitting in our kitchen, we heard a buzz. I went to open the door. Joe was standing on the threshold, smiling and holding a big cardboard box. I invited him in. Inside the box was a carton of milk, a bag of potatoes, a case of eggs, a jar of gefilte fish, and a chicken. My mother and I were not used to handouts and were very embarrassed by the offering, but Joe explained that it's not from him but from his community. He said that the Lubavitchers have a tradition to share their wealth with those less fortunate. So finally, we accepted the gift. Since then, every Thursday for a year Joe delivered us the box. The food never varied. One thing was peculiar. We never got a whole bird. The chicken always lacked either a wing or a leg. I guess we were also sharing our chicken with somebody else. Frankly, after a while, we were not looking forward for yet another jar of a gefilte fish, but we were always grateful.

Amid the strenuous effort to adjust to our new life, we didn't notice that a year had passed, and another spring had wheeled in. One Thursday Joe arrived with his usual package and invited us to his house for a Seder. We said our thanks, and the day and time were set.

We were deeply touched by yet another act of Mitzvah from these wonderful people, but we were apprehensive, at the same time. My Jewish mother and my Russian father were non-religious. We had never celebrated Passover, Easter or Christmas. In fact, nobody I knew did so in Leningrad. All religions and religious observances were strongly discouraged by the Soviet state. My mother recalled, however, that before the Bolshevik Revolution, when her family lived in Crimea, they celebrated Passover. But she only remembered that her mother cooked for several days and that a lot of neighbors were invited to their house, including a priest from the nearby Russian church. My mother's recollections were not really helpful. So we went to the Seder unprepared, hoping that our smiles and good manners would guide us through.

Joe's house looked very much like the house of the woman with the broken piano. The earthy, timeless mood prevailed: somber colors, sturdy mahogany wood furniture, heavy drapery on the windows. Joe's wife Sarah, his daughter Miriam, and his son Sol were waiting for us and invited us to sit on the ample couch in their living room. Sarah was a tall, plump woman about fifty whose round face exuded calm kindness. My mother bravely started to talk to her in her very limited Yiddish and soon they both disappeared into the kitchen. Miriam, a very bright talkative girl about seventeen, was very eager to share with me her love for classical music, especially Mahler. Her brother Sol, a pale and sickly looking teenager about fifteen, didn't say a word. Neither did my daughter Sasha. She was only fourteen at the time but much taller then Sol. Her main of curly brown hair covered her shoulders and made her look older and even taller. Her face gave the impression of someone that just awoke in an unfamiliar place and was not quite sure what to do. Soon Sarah and my mother joined us and we were ushered to the table.

Joe positioned himself between my mother and me. My daughter was on my other side. There were beautiful plates, silverware, and ornate little glasses in front of each person. In the middle of the table were several platters with small samples of unfamiliar food. My daughter was perplexed. She was used to the traditional Russian zakuska-appetizer table, almost every inch of which is occupied by Russian salads, pickled herring, mushrooms, pies, and so on. "Where is the food?" she whispered in my ear. Joe probably overheard it. He didn't realize the level of our ignorance and started hastily to explain the symbolic meaning of the Passover Seder, its reminders of the bitterness of slavery and hopes of renewal.

Meanwhile, Sarah left and soon came back, carefully leading arm-in-arm a very old man who shuffled laboriously. He was seated at the head of the table. That was Joe's father, Yeshua. He wore a black suit, a black yarmulke and big round glasses. He had a very long white beard and looked so fragile and so far away in his thoughts that he acknowledged our presence only with a slight nod. Sarah covered his head and shoulders with an embroidered scarf and placed the Haggadah in his hands. We each had a copy of it in front of us too. The old man opened the book and started to mumble softly in Hebrew.

His reading soon sounded like the distant hum of a radio. Meanwhile, my attention was completely absorbed by the action around the table. I had a feeling that I was driving a car for the first time. Joe was my driving instructor but I still had to watch closely for signs on the road. My family cooperated diligently. We chewed bitter herbs, we dipped the egg into salt water, we ate "Charoset" (It looked like cement but was very tasty), and we sang discordantly. I was quite fascinated by the wine ritual. First, we had to dip our fingers slightly into the glass. Then there was a little mishap. I didn't know that the next round I only had to touch the rim of the glass without drinking, but Joe intercepted gently. He stopped my hand just in time and a road accident was averted. A special glass of wine was left for Elijah, who mysteriously appeared in spirit. An hour passed, reading continued.

Finally the old man closed the book and produced a faint but satisfying smile. Everybody came to life as though after a long dream. Even somber Sol beamed with happiness. Sarah and Miriam went to the kitchen and food started to come to the table. We ate voraciously. The matzah ball soup was divine. It followed by the even tastier chicken dish. Then came our favorite potato pancakes and of course (oh, not again!) gefilte fish. I have to say that fish was excellent, much better than our out-of-jar variety.

Somehow, the dessert has faded from my memory but I am sure there was one. It was time to go. Joe drove us home. It was a beautiful spring evening, fragrant with first blooms. Joe lowered the roof of his convertible and drove slowly through his neighborhood. His face radiated almost divine happiness. We were also happy. The light was fading, and I was wondering what was awaiting me behind the next door.

from the March 2013 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Commentary / Readings
Source :
By Maya Kasowky

What follows are short descriptions of Seder customs from around the world. For this lesson each custom can be printed out on a separate card or strip.

Circling the seder plate over the heads of each participant, while saying “In Haste we left Egypt”.  The response is “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”

Where it fits in the seder: The very beginning Where it is from: Morocco and Tunisia

Putting the shank bone, charoset, maror, karpas, egg, and matzah all around the table, rather than on a seder plate.

Where it fits in the seder: During set-up, before the seder starts Where it is from: Persian and Yemenite Jews

Putting the shank bone, charoset, maror, karpas, egg, and matzah in a covered basket, ready to carry out of Egypt with us.

Where it fits in the seder: During set-up, before the seder starts. Where it is from: Tunisia

Putting a fishbowl with live fish on the seder table

Where it fits in the seder: During set-up, before the seder starts. Where it is from: Tunisia

Having first night Seder in Hebrew, and the second night Seder in the language you speak at home.

Where it fits in the seder: Throughout Where it is from: Kavkaz (in the Caucasus mountains, in or near Russia)

Each person takes a turn holding up the Matzot and reciting the steps of the seder (Kadeish U’rchatz, Karpas, Yachatz…).

Where it fits in the seder: The beginning Where it is from: Persia

Take a pillowcase, and fill it with heavy objects, before the seder.  During the seder, take turns carrying it around the table on your back, to experience a little of the hard work that Jews did as slaves in Egypt.

Where it fits in the seder: At “Avadim Hayinu”, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt” Where it is from: Romania

Interruption in the seder by a “nomad” who is leaving Egypt.  Dialogue with the “guest” goes like this;

Seder leader: Where are you coming from?

Nomad: Egypt

Seder Leader: Where are you going?

Nomad: Jerusalem

Seder Leader: What are the supplies for your trip?

Nomad: [sings the 4 questions]

Where it fits in the seder: Right before the 4 questions, or any time, as a surprise Where it is from: Iraq

Pour out bits of wine or grape juice into a bowl of water, and see it turn red/bloody.

Where it fits in the seder: The recital of the ten plagues. Where it is from: Sefaradi custom

Pour wine or grape juice out of a Cup of Pharaoh

Where it fits in the seder: The recital of the ten plagues. Where it is from: India

Gently mock-whip the person who knows where the afikomen is hidden, until they reveal where it is.

Where it fits in the seder: At the very end of the meal. Where it is from: Bukhara

Tie the afikomen onto the back of one child at the seder.

Where it fits in the seder: After Yachatz, and it remains there until the end of the meal. Where it is from: Iraq

Commentary / Readings
Source :

By Maya Kasowsky, Rabbinic Intern at Be'chol Lashon

Every year at Passover Jews gather round tables to share in the Seder, reliving through custom and ritual, the experience of leaving Egypt and slavery, and emerging into freedom. The words only tell the story. The customs, songs, and foods help create that sense of being there. Around the world, Jews have passed down a variety of traditions that bring the Exodus to life. These global traditions provide wonderful ways to prompt new questions and interest at any Seder.

While many communities use a special Seder plate to hold the edible and visual supplies for their Seder, Persian and Yemenite Jews place the different items directly on the table, or in small bowls in front of each person, so that they surround the participants, creating a truly immersive environment.  Others use a basket covered with a decorated cloth to hold all the different ritual items, as do the Jews of Tunisia, so that they are ready to take them off the table and leave Egypt right away. 

Other visual and tactile cues can help to create a vivid setting to enhance the experience.  Lately, “plague bags”  with different toys for each of the ten plagues have become popular.  The Tunisian community has had the same sort of idea for a lot longer.  They place a fishbowl with live fish swimming in it on the table next to the Seder plate, to evoke crossing the Red Sea by seeing the fish that swam in the walls of water on either side. 

Traditionally, Jews outside of Israel hold two Seders, one each of the first two nights of Passover.  The Jews of Kavkaz, in the Caucasus mountains, took advantage of this by holding their first night Seder in Hebrew, and the second night in their own language, so as to both hear the language of our ancestors and also be able to deeply understand what is going on.  Following their example or modifying it to fit your needs can bring richness and depth to a Seder. 

The open of the Seder, like the opening scene of a good play, needs to engage and interest the participants. Instead of simply announcing the start, you could begin with the Seder leader or another participant circling the Seder plate over the head of each of the participants three times, reciting “In haste we came out of Egypt”, as is done in Morocco and Tunisia.  Each individual responds with “Ha Lachma Anya” “This is the bread of affliction” or with “Avadim hayinu” “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt”.  This physically immerses you in the sights and sounds of the Seder.   

Alternatively another opening ritual, which comes from the Jews of Persia, asks each participant to take a turn holding up the plate of matzot and reciting the 14 steps of the Seder in order, ending with ha lachma anya, “This is the bread of affliction”.   This gives each participant the chance to take a first step into the experience individually, and to commit to this year’s journey to freedom.      

As we come to the Maggid section, in which the story of the Exodus is recounted, our core desire is to experience and understand what it meant to go from slavery to freedom.  Many communities mixed readings with theater to recreate the sense of adventure and urgency. Consider doing as the Jews of Romania were accustomed to do. When you read the piece of the Haggadah that begins “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt” (In Hebrew “Avadim Hayinu”), take a pillowcase filled with heavy objects, and carry it on your back, around the table.  First an older person might trudge around the table with his or her back bent under the load, and then each child could take a turn.  In Romania, adults would say “difficult to be a slave” over and over as the children experienced the weight of slavery. 

Or you might begin your Seder as Iraqi Jews do- then be “interrupted” by a knock on the door.  One member of the family dresses up as a nomad, with a hat, knapsack and walking stick.  The leader of the Seder quizzes him or her: “where are you coming from?” (Egypt) “Where are you going?” (Jerusalem) and finally “what are the supplies for your trip?”, which cues the ‘actor’ to begin singing the 4 questions. 

The recital of the 10 plagues is a disturbing moment in the Seder, as we realize that our freedom comes at the price of someone else’s suffering.  At most Seders, each participant removes a small amounts of wine or grape juice from their cup as each of the 10 plagues are read, symbolizing the lessening of our joy because of their pain.  Most Ashkenazi (Jews of Eastern European origin) Jews remove some with their finger and place each drop on their plates.  Other communities make the symbolism more visible.  Some Sephardim (Jews from Western Europe and North Africa) pour wine off into a bowl of water, so that by the end it looks red, and we see in front of us the blood of those who suffered so that we could go free.  Indian Jews take a slightly different approach and have a Cup of Pharaoh from which the wine is taken, diminishing the power of the one who caused the plagues, and the suffering of his people, through his refusal to let his slaves go free. 

Keeping children awake long past their bedtimes takes some creativity.  The Afikomen, the last piece of food eaten at the Seder is, in many communities, one way that we keep children engaged.  Often the afikomen is hidden, and children are asked to find it, so that we may end the meal.  Other children steal it, and demand that it be ransomed back.   Still others follow Bukharan custom, and let children use a towel to gently mock-whip the person who hid it until the location is divulged.  

Iraqi Jews take a different approach, and do not hide the Afikomen, but rather tie the afikomen to the back of a small child and tell him or her to guard it, which helps the little one stay awake and aware of their special role in the Seder.

The story of the Exodus from Egypt is the core the story of the Jewish people. It is a universal tale that speaks to global themes of suffering, freedom and faith. Bringing the global custom to your Seder this year can not only bring new meaning to familiar rituals but also connect you with the global traditions of our people.

Commentary / Readings
Source :

By Sarah Spencer

Passover is a time for people to gather around tables, share stories food and rituals. It can be joyous and exciting. But like with any communal setting, is can also be complicated to navigate the different needs and agendas people bring to the table. Still, if we follow Jewish tradition, we will find Passover can be a model for how to create positive diverse communal connections. Its rituals and structures teach us to talk across differences and celebrate commonalities.

Passover is about story telling. And good communication is based on the ability to tell our own stories. Before we gather to celebrate our common identity, we must each own our personal story. Judaism has an oral history, and we have survived by telling those stories and passing them down through the generations. Passover brings us together to celebrate a universal experience of slavery to freedom, a concept everyone can relate to in some way or another. This is the theme around which the story telling takes place on this particular evening. Having a common theme around which to tell stories, a theme with which people from different places or times can identify which, is one of the ways in which people can connect across differences.

Passover encourages us to invite strangers into our home so that we remember that we too were once strangers in own land. We are supposed to open the door and include the strange, the unfamiliar into our familiar Passover ceremony. We can only build strong community when we view the prospect of engaging others as a positive opportunity. Recognize that perhaps some of the people at our table may feel like strangers or that people already sitting at your table may be a stranger to your personal Passover story. We welcome others into our experience and learn about ourselves when we share our stories and hear other people’s experiences and perspectives.    

Passover is all about asking questions; so is bridging differences. Ask questions of the people whom share Seder. Diversity is not about trying to understand somebody else’s experience as your own or listening politely while they speak. It is about engaging and learning so that you both might learn from your curiosity about their life. Sometimes it is difficult to ask questions about that which makes us different. Asking questions in a well structured and thought out way can help us navigate what can feel like difficult and unfamiliar territory.

There are many ways to ask questions: like the four children, we can be intentional about how we engage with one another, and need to recognize and celebrate that we all have different levels of skill and capacity when it comes to asking— some are wise, some wicked, some ignorant, and some don’t even know how to ask. Regardless of how we may ask or be asked, it is our engagement with one another that will ensure we continue to grow as individuals and as a people.

The traditional Seder is supposed to be a raucous affair, with food, song, ritual and debate. This historic framework provides a wonderful space for all of us to engage across differences.

Commentary / Readings
Source :
Entrée From Estonia

 By Marissa Weitzman

Turkey with Matzah Stuffing
Recipe courtesy of Larisa Simonova from Tallinn, Estonia.

1 large turkey
For the stuffing: 10 pieces of matzah; 1 ½ cups of white wine; vegetable oil; 2 medium-sized onions, cubed; 2 tablespoons of soup mix; 1 stalk of celery, diced; 10 rosemary twigs; ¾ to 1 cup of walnuts, chopped;
For the basting oil: ½ cup of olive oil; 1 ½ teaspoons of mustard; ½ teaspoon of black pepper; ½ teaspoon of paprika.

Clean turkey thoroughly. Soak matzah in a dish with the white wine, until soft.
Fry the onion until the color is golden. Mix the onion together with matzah, then add the celery, rosemary, and walnuts.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix olive oil, mustard, black pepper and paprika in separate dish and then smear on turkey using your hands. Stuff turkey with the matzah stuffing, placing any additional stuffing under the turkey. Cover with foil and roast for at least 3 hours, turning it from time to time, until it gets tender and golden.

Commentary / Readings
Source :

By Rabbi Alana Suskin

During the Passover season, we revisit the story of how the people of Israel, in a reversal of humans searching for the Divine, are pursued and rescued by God. During the process, what has been a family and a tribal story becomes a national story. It is in our leaving Egypt that Israel becomes the Jewish people.

One of the key points to our national identity though, happens before we leave Egypt. In the very first chapter of Shemot,  Pharaoh orders the Hebrew midwives, Shifra and Puah, to kill all the male children. Who are these women? The Hebrew is ambiguous – like the English, it could mean either “Hebrew women who are midwives” or “Midwives to the Hebrews.”

The rabbis also are divided on this. Rashi declares them the former, but Abrabanel and Samuel David Luzzatto are firmly in the camp of the latter. Luzzatto reasons that this is because it would have been unreasonable for Pharaoh to think that Hebrew women would have murdered their own people. Chief Rabbi of England Jonathan Sacks comments, “The Torah's ambiguity on this point is deliberate. We do not know to which people they belonged because their particular form of moral courage transcends nationality and race. In essence, they were being asked to commit a 'crime against humanity,' and they refused to do so.”

Nevertheless, it is probable that Shifrah and Puah were Egyptian women. This meaning actually fits better with the sense of the narrative, since it is unlikely that the exchange between Pharaoh and the midwives would make much sense if the midwives were Hebrew women – they would not have been able to feign ignorance and surprise at the way that Hebrew women bore children. It also makes more sense that after the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh, he then charges all his people to destroy all the male children.

What is fascinating about this small glimpse is how commonplace it actually must have been. Although it is the first instance of civil disobedience that we know of historically, it seems that the Egyptian women were not terribly different than other Egyptians were. After all, Pharaoh may have ordered all the Egyptians to ensure the killing of the Hebrew sons, but his own daughter – and all her maidservants who were with her that morning when she saw Moshe floating around in the box- disobeyed him.

Shifra and Puah were indeed extraordinary women – it is of course, difficult to disobey your ruler, especially if your ruler was considered to be a God-  thus God rewarded Shifrah and Puah by making them houses – in other words, for saving all those Hebrew boys, their own families were increased and made numerous. It was they who laid the groundwork for the Jewish people to be a people who “feared God and did not do as the king commanded them.”

I wonder if perhaps there is one more ambiguity to resolve. Where exactly were the houses that God made for Shifra and Puah? When Israel finally succeeded in leaving Egypt, they went out as 600,000, but the Torah adds (Shemot 12:38) that a “mixed multitude went with them.”

Israel has never been a racial category. Although we began with Abraham as one family,  right away, that was undermined as Abraham and Sarah took all the souls they had made  from Haran (Beresheit 12:5)- which the midrash understands as converts from the local tribes. Then, at the moment of our becoming a nation – our release from Egypt, again, we did not go alone, but went together with those who chose to take our journey with us, and so became part of us, and stood with us at Sinai, and became Israel.

Even the very existence of what we (wrongly) think of as a “regular” Jewish face - Ashkenazim - are actually evidence of the reverse. Semites, who came up from the middle east, assuredly did not then look like what we think of Ashkenazi Jews looking like any more than they do today! The very fact that we think of Ashkenazim as “Jewish-looking” at all is  actually funny – and proof that we have always welcomed in people of all colors, every tribe – anyone who seeks to join us on our mission of serving God. I like to think that even though Shifrah and Puah weren’t Hebrew women, that ambiguity was purposeful because  when the time came for the Israelites to leave Egypt, they came with us to stand at Sinai, that they stood there, living examples of what it means to fear God, that among us, their descendants, their houses, still stand.

Commentary / Readings
Source :

By Marissa Weitzman

One of my earliest and endearing memories from my childhood is with my Bubbie, Ruth Gipstein, and mother in the kitchen preparing matzoh ball soup for Passover.  To reach the granite countertop, I would balance on a stepping stool and we would set up in an assembly line.  Scoop the dough up, squish and roll it into a ball, and gently drop the sculpture into a pot of boiling water.  After the balls were cooked, we placed them in chicken stock filled with a variety of vegetables.  I enjoyed every slurp and filling bite of this soup at the table with my family.

Matzoh ball soup is commonly served as a traditional Passover dish, but did you also know that this soup is jokingly referred to as “Jewish Penicillin” and has medicinal powers?   

The earliest recording of Jewish chicken soup dates all the way back to the 12th century. Rabbi Moshe ben Maimonides, a Jewish philosopher and physician from Spain, began prescribing “the broth of fowl” for ill patients to treat hemorrhoids, constipation, and even leprosy.  He claimed that the broth made from the meat of hens and roosters had healing powers to relieve respiratory illnesses.

Chicken soup has been associated with Askenazic Jews, Jews from central Europe.  Askenazic Jews made chicken soup because it was the cheapest meat to raise, resourceful, and prevented illnesses.  It was flavored and seasoned with parsley, thyme, and often served with kneidlach (matzoh balls), kreplach (dumplings), or eggs.

In 2000, Dr. Stephan Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha published a study in the medical journal, Chest, revealing that chicken soup has medicinal value.  He conducted laboratory tests on blood samples from volunteers and showed that the soup inhibits the white blood cell, neutrophils, that defends against infection and causes inflammation, which in turn reduces congestion in the nasal passages.  The exact ingredient has not been identified, however, it may be the combination of vegetables and chicken that cause the inhibitory effect.  Although chicken soup is not the cure for the common cold, there is a scientific consensus that is does relieve symptoms by reducing congestions and improving nasal secretion flow.

Chicken soup contains many beneficial nutrients that help keep our bodies healthy.  Sally Fallon, author of Nourishing Traditions, encourages the use of skin, meat, bones, and feet of the chicken because vital nutrients are secreted into the soup and can be absorbed in our body.  Chicken contains many amino acids, including cysteine, which has similar properties as a common drug acetylcysteine, which is used to relieve symptoms of bronchitis.  Additionally, other ingredients, such as carrots and onions, provide nutrients that act as anti-oxidants and prevent disease and infections.      

Matzoh ball soup is more than just a traditional dish for Passover, it is a history story, a healing power, and a delicious, comforting meal. 

Below is my Bubbie’s chicken soup recipe that was passed down from watching her mother from Russia in the kitchen, and is now passed down to me.

Chicken Soup


1 onion

1 whole Chicken

2 or 3 carrots

1 celery stick Parsley

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 ½ tsp Peppercorns

Preparation: Remove guts and butcher cut the chicken into 4 pieces.  Place in large pot.  Add a whole onion peeled, carrots cut into pieces about an inch long, a celery stick cut into a few pieces, a handful of parsley, kosher salt, and the peppercorns.  Cover with water and cover pot and cook on low heat for an hour or so.  

Remove chicken, carrots, and celery.   Strain soup.  Cool soup and place in refrigerator over night.  Remove the fat, which will form on the top of the liquid.       If you want to add a Spanish twist, add green chilies, garlic and potato.

Source : Unknown

What happened to the tortoise?
The tortoise, the tortoise
A breadfruit fell on the tortoise
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the breadfruit?
The tortoise, the tortoise
A stake pierced the breadfruit
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the staff?
The tortoise, the tortoise
Termite ate up the staff
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the termite?
The tortoise, the tortoise
A fowl ate the termite
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the fowl?
The tortoise, the tortoise
A kite/hawk carried the fowl
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the kite/hawk?
The tortoise, the tortoise
A gun killed the kite/hawk
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the gun?
The tortoise, the tortoise
Fire burnt the gun
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the fire?
The tortoise, the tortoise
Water quenched the fire
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the water?
The tortoise, the tortoise
The ground soaked up the water
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to the ground?
The tortoise, the tortoise
The Lord (Chukwu Abiama) created the ground
The tortoise, the tortoise

What happened to Chukwu Abiama?
The tortoise, the tortoise
Nothing happened to Chukwu Abiama
The tortoise, the tortoise

Source : Hazzan Isaac Azose

Ehad Mi Yodeah - in Ladino


Ken supiense i entendiense,

alavar al Dio kreense.


Kualo es el uno (1)?

Uno es el Kriador

Baruhu ubaruh Shemo.


Ken supiense i entendiense,

alavar al Dio kreense.


Kualo son los tredje?

Tredje (13) son los ikarim.

Dodje (12) ermanos kon Yosef.

Onze (11) ermanos sin Yosef.

Diez (10) mandamientos de la Ley.

Mueve (9) mezes de la prenyada.

Ocho (8) dias de la milá.

Siete (7) dias de la semana.

Sesh (6) livros de la Mishna.

Sinko (5) livros de la Ley.

Kuatro (4) madres de Israel.

Tres (3) muestros padres son.

Dos (2) Moshe i Aron.

Uno (1) es el Kriador.

Baruhu ubaruh Shemo.


Hazzan Isaac Azose, The Liturgy of Ezra Bessaroth. Seattle (USA), 1999.

This song was recorded on July 16, 1999 at Studio 5, Bellevue WA.

Source : A Growing Haggadah, from the Altabet family tradition

Un Cavritico

Un cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino el gato y se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino el perro y que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino el palo y aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino el fuego y quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino la agua y ya mato el fuego, que quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Y vino el buey y se bevio la agua, que ya mato el fuego, que quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Y vino el shoket y degollo el buey, que se bevio la agua, que ya mato el fuego, que quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Y vino el malah amavet y degollo shoket, que degollo al buey, que se bevio la agua, que ya mato el fuego, que quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim. Y vino el Santo Bendicho y degollo el malah amavet, que degollo shoket, que degollo al buey, que se bevio la agua, que ya mato el fuego, que quemo el palo, que aharvo el perro, que mordio el gato, que se comio el cavritico, que lo merco mi padre por dos levanim, por dos levanim.

Liberté/Liberty by French Poet Paul Eluard

Liberty, in original French Liberté, is a 1942 poem by French poet Paul Éluard. It is an ode to liberty written during the Nazi occupation of France.

1. Sur mes cahiers d’écolier Sur mon pupitre et les arbres Sur le sable sur la neige J’écris ton nom  2. Sur toutes les pages lues Sur toutes les pages blanches Pierre sang papier ou cendre J’écris ton nom  3. Sur les images dorées Sur les armes des guerriers Sur la couronne des rois J’écris ton nom  4. Sur la jungle et le désert Sur les nids sur les genêts Sur l’écho de mon enfance J’écris ton nom  5. Sur les merveilles des nuits Sur le pain blanc des journées Sur les saisons fiancées J’écris ton nom  6. Sur tous mes chiffons d’azur Sur l’étang soleil moisi Sur le lac lune vivante J’écris ton nom  7. Sur les champs sur l’horizon Sur les ailes des oiseaux Et sur le moulin des ombres J’écris ton nom  8. Sur chaque bouffée d’aurore Sur la mer sur les bateaux Sur la montagne démente J’écris ton nom  9. Sur la mousse des nuages Sur les sueurs de l’orage Sur la pluie épaisse et fade J’écris ton nom  10. Sur les formes scintillantes Sur les cloches des couleurs Sur la vérité physique J’écris ton nom  11. Sur les sentiers éveillés Sur les routes déployées Sur les places qui débordent J’écris ton nom  (...) 18. Sur mes refuges détruits Sur mes phares écroulés Sur les murs de mon ennui J’écris ton nom  19. Sur l’absence sans désir Sur la solitude nue Sur les marches de la mort J’écris ton nom  20. Sur la santé revenue Sur le risque disparu Sur l’espoir sans souvenir J’écris ton nom  21. Et par le pouvoir d’un mot Je recommence ma vie Je suis né pour te connaître Pour te nommer  Liberté.

On my school notebooks On my school desk and the trees On the sand on the snow I write your name  On all the pages read On all the white pages Stone, blood, paper or ash I write your name  On the golden images On the warriors’ weapons On the kings’ crown I write your name  On the jungle and the desert On the nests on the brooms On the echo of my childhood I write your name  On the wonders of the nights On the white bread of the days On the engaged seasons I write your name  On all my rags of azure On the pond mildewed sun On the living lake of moonlight I write your name  On the fields on the horizon On the birds’ wings And on the mill of shadows I write your name  On each whiff of dawn On the sea on the boats On the insane mountain I write your name  On the foam of the clouds On the sweat of the storm On the thick and dull rain I write your name  On the scintillating figures On the bells of colors On the physical truth I write your name  On the awaken paths On the unfurled roads On the overflowing squares I write your name  On the lamp that is alight On the lamp that dies out On my reunited houses I write your name  On the fruit cut in two Of the mirror and of my room On my bed, an empty shell I write your name  On my gourmand and tender dog On his pricked-up ears On his clumsy paw I write your name  On the springboard of my door On the familiar objects On the flood of the blessed fire I write your name  On any granted flesh On my friends’ forehead On each outstretched hand I write your name  On the window of surprises On the attentive lips Well above the silence I write your name  On my destroyed shelters On my crumbled beacons On the walls of my boredom I write your name  On the absence without desire On the bare solitude On the steps of death I write your name  On the returning health On the disappearing risk On the unremembering hope I write your name  And by the power of a word I started my life anew I was born to know you To name you  Liberty.