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Source :

this passover card an homage to a great artist!


Newsreel clip of Passover preps on the Lower East Side of New York in the 1930's

Source : HIAS Seder Supplement
As we celebrate the Jewish people’s biblical exodus from Egypt, we remember that there are 60 million displaced people around the world, people fleeing violence and persecution in search of a safe place to call home. We are currently in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

HIAS, the world’s oldest, and only Jewish, refugee resettlement organization, helps refugees find ways to live in safety and with dignity as we also mobilize the Jewish community’s response to the global refugee crisis. This Passover, we hope you will find inspiration in weaving the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt together with the stories of today’s refugees as we offer words of blessing and hope and commit ourselves to acting on behalf of refugees worldwide in the days to come. 

Source : James Baldwin
“If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving."

-James Baldwin

Source :

Nothing on the Seder table is selected randomly; each item has it’s purpose and often it’s specific place. The Seder plate holds at least six of the ritual items that are discussed during the Seder: the shankbone, maror, charoset, karpas, salt water, orange, roasted egg, and boiled egg.

(to the tune of “Frère Jacques”)

Roasted Shankbone
Hard Boiled Egg
Karpas and Charoset
Bitter Herbs

One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shankbone (called zeroah), which commemorates the paschal (lamb) sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt. Some say it symbolizes the outstretched arm of God (the Hebrew word zeroah can mean “arm”). Many vegetarians use a roasted beet instead. This isn’t a new idea; the great Biblical commentator Rashi suggested it back in the eleventh century.

Bitter herbs (usually horseradish) bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but people are called to look at their own bitter enslavements.

There’s nothing further from maror than charoset (“cha-ROH-set”), the sweet salad of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon that represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks.

Karpas is a green vegetable, usually parsley (though any spring green will do). Karpas symbolizes the freshness of spring. Some families still use boiled potatoes for karpas, continuing a tradition from Eastern Europe where it was difficult to obtain fresh green vegetables.

Salt water symbolizes the tears and sweat of enslavement, though paradoxically, it’s also a symbol for purity, springtime, and the sea.

The tradition of putting an orange on the seder plate in is a response to a less evolved rabbi who told a young girl that a woman belongs on a bimah as much as an orange on a Seder plate. The orange is now said to be a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, whether they be gay, straight, male or female.

The roasted egg (baytsah) is a symbol in many different cultures, usually signifying springtime and renewal. Here it stands in place of one of the sacrificial offerings which was performed in the days of the Second Temple. Another popular interpretation is that the egg is like the Jewish people: the hotter you make it for them, the tougher they get.

May we reflect on our lives this year and soften our hearts to those around us. Another year has passed since we gathered at the Seder table and we are once again reminded that life is fleeting. We are reminded to use each precious moment wisely so that no day will pass without bringing us closer to some worthy achievement as we all take a moment to be aware of how truly blessed we are.

Our faith gives us many holidays to celebrate throughout the year and they are all times for self reflection, gently guiding us to a better path in life. We are each given a chance to reflect on our past year; to think about where we have been and how we will live our lives in the year to come. We reaffirm our commitment to lead good and meaningful lives, promoting peace wherever we go.

Source : Original Video from
Source : Design by
Source :
Dispelling the Urban Legend of the Orange on the Seder Plate

By Rabbi Robyn Frisch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source :
Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah—whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.

The Palestinian people

One of the most radical messages of the torah is that cruelty is not destiny. Though we tend to treat others the way we way we ourselves were treated the message of the Torah is that the chain of pain can be broken - that we do not have to pass on to others what was done to us. Again and again, the torah commands the Israelites to remember that they were foreigners in Egypt, and to treat foreigners with kindness and empathy. It would be especially tempting to the Israelites to mistreat Egyptians, given their painful history. But the Torah explicitly commands that the memory of slavery in Egypt is to prompt the Israelites to resist the temptation to be unkind to Egyptians. We celebrate this Seder at a moment when Israel remains an occupier ruling over the lives of more than a million Palestinians who seek their own state and their same right to national self-determination that Jews rightly achieved for ourselves. We are proud of the steps that Israel has taken to change this situation, but we cannot forget on this anniversary of our own national liberation struggle that our people, so unfairly treated throughout our history, has now become the face of the oppressor to another people…It would be hypocritical for us to celebrate our own victory over oppression if we did not commit ourselves to overcoming the role that the State of Israel now plays as an oppressor to the Palestinian people.

Excerpt from Kvutsah Yovel Hagaddah

Source : Love & Justice Haggadah
One at a time, pour water over each others’ hands. As water is poured over your hands, share with us what you would like to let go of right now, what you would like to have “washed away”. And after each person speaks, give them support by all saying “Kayn Yihee Ratzon”, or “So Be It.” 
Source : Original Illustration from
Source : Original Illustration from

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 : Design by

Source : Original Illustration from
Source : JQ International GLBT Haggadah

According to the Book of Exodus, there was a famine in the land of Canaan (later known as Israel). Because of this famine, the Hebrew patriarch Jacob traveled with his extended family of 70 to Egypt to both live inbetter conditions and be with his son Joseph. Joseph’s wisdom had impressed the Pharaoh of Egypt to the point that he was appointed Viceroy of Egypt, which was second in power only to the Pharaoh.

The next 430 years in Egypt saw the Israelites prosper and rapidly multiply to about 3 million people. These numbers were so great, the Pharaoh became nervous that the Israelites were becoming too many in number to control and thought they might side with Egypt’s enemies in case of war. The Pharaoh decreed that the Israelites should be enslaved to build cities and roads for him so that they would be too tired and also would not have time to have children. The Israelites were then confined to the land area of Goshen (Hebrew meaning of Goshen: “approaching” or “drawing near,” meaning the Israelites were possibly drawn closer to God during this period of time in Goshen, hence the essence of the Passover story occurred here), which was the fertile land that was east of the Nile delta and west of the border of Canaan.

As slaves, the lives of our ancestors were embittered and our Seder plate symbolically represents their lives under bondage.

Source : -

Breaking the middle matzah | yachatz | יַחַץ

There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests must hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up the meal. Because the meal cannot end until all guests taste the afikomen, whoever has found it may ransom it back to the other guests.

We eat matzah in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, they faced many false starts before finally securing their freedom. So when the word of their freedom came, they took whatever dough they had and ran with it before it had the chance to rise, letting it bake in the sun, and thus looking something like matzah.

The host uncovers and holds up the three pieces of matzah and says:

This is the bread of poverty which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover with us. This year we are here; next year may we be in Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free.


The Medium is the Matzo is Melissa Shiff's multi-media Passover installation. This installation is a three dimensional Haggadah made with over 5000 pieces of matzo. This image is the invitation to the exhibit. The exhibition was shown in New York at NYU as well as in Montreal at Concordia University. With this installation Shiff took visitors on a journey out of Egypt, starting in the 10 Plagues space, moving through the Matzo Mitzrayim tunnel and into to the Elijah lounge where participants could recline on a sea of 500 pillows and quench their desert thirst at the Miriam Bar. The installation culminated at the Matzo Ball Activist corner where visitors could by a Matzo Ball Activist Kit filled with readings from Arthur Waskow's Freedom Seder. To read more about the exhibition and to view more images please visit the Medium is the Matzo page as Shiff's website.

Maggid - Beginning
Source :
Maggid - Beginning
Source : Original Design from

Maggid - Beginning
by VBS
Source : VBS Haggadah
The central imperative of the Seder is to tell the story. The Bible instructs: “ You shall tell your child on that day, saying: ‘This is because of what Adonai did for me when I came out of Egypt.' ” (Exodus 13:8) We relate the story of our ancestors to regain the memories as our own. Elie Weisel writes: God created man because He loves stories. We each have a story to tell — a story of enslavement, struggle, liberation. Be sure to tell your story at the Seder table, for the Passover is offered not as a one-time event, but as a model for human experience in all generations. 

Ha lachma anya d’achaloo avhatana b’ara d’meetzrayeem. Kol dichfeen yay-tay vi’yachool, kol deetzreech yay-tay viyeesfsach. Hashata hach. Li’shana ha-ba-aa bi’arah di’yeesrael. Hashata av’day, li’shana ha-ba a bi’nay choreen.

This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in need, come and celebrate Passover. Today, we are here. Next year, in the land of Israel. Today, we are slaves. Next year, we will be free.

Written in Aramaic, this statement begins the narration of the Seder by inviting the hungry to our table. Aramaic, Jewish legend has it, is the one language which the angels do not understand. Why then is Ha Lachma spoken in Aramaic? To teach us that where there is hunger, no one should rely upon the angels, no one should pray to the heavens for help. We know the language of the poor, for we were poor in the land of Egypt. We know that we are called to feed the poor and to call them to join our celebration of freedom. 

Maggid - Beginning

Enjoy this 12 minute video of Melissa Shiff's Times Square Seder, an art/activist performance on 42nd Street that invited All Who Were Hungry to come in an Eat at The Matzo Ball Soup Kitchen. Shiff invited activist Rabbi Arthur Waskow ( leader of the Shalom Center) Ruth Messenger ( director of the American Jewish World Service) and Rabbi Burt Segal ( The Artist Shul) to activate the Seder by making the link between Passover and activism.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Arundhati Roy Quote, Design by
-- Four Questions
Source : Design by
-- Four Questions

Mah Nishtana halayla hazeh mikol haleylot? Mikol haleylot?
Sheb-ch-ol haleylot anu o-ch-lim ch-ametz umatzah,
Ch-ametz umatzah.
Halaylah hazeh, halaylah hazeh kulo matzah.
Halaylah hazeh, halaylah hazeh kulo matzah.

Sheb-ch-ol haleylot anu o-ch-lim she-ar yerakot.
She-ar yerakot.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh maror.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh maror

Sheb-ch-ol haleylot eyn anu matbilin afilu pa-am e-ch-at.
Afilu pa-am e-ch-at.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh sh'tae p'amim.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh sh'tae p'amim.

Sheb-ch-ol haleylot anu o-ch-lim beyn yoshvin uveyn mesubin.
Beyn yoshvin uveyn mesubin.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh kulanu mesubin.
Halayla hazeh, halayla hazeh kulanu mesubin

-- Four Questions
Source :

The Four Questions

Why is it only
on Passover night
we never know how
to do anything right?
We don't eat our meals
in the regular ways,
the ways that we do
on all other days.

'Cause on all other nights
we may eat
all kinds of wonderful
good bready treats,
like big purple pizza
that tastes like a pickle,
crumbly crackers
and pink pumpernickel,
sassafras sandwich
and tiger on rye,
fifty felafels in pita,
with peanut-butter
and tangerine sauce
spread onto each side
up-and-down, then across,
and toasted whole-wheat bread
with liver and ducks,
and crumpets and dumplings,
and bagels and lox,
and doughnuts with one hole
and doughnuts with four,
and cake with six layers
and windows and doors.
on all other nights
we eat all kinds of bread,
but tonight of all nights
we munch matzo instead.

And on all other nights
we devour
vegetables, green things,
and bushes and flowers,
lettuce that's leafy
and candy-striped spinach,
fresh silly celery
(Have more when you're finished!)
cabbage that's flown
from the jungles of Glome
by a polka-dot bird
who can't find his way home,
daisies and roses
and inside-out grass
and artichoke hearts
that are simply first class!
Sixty asparagus tips
served in glasses
with anchovy sauce
and some sticky molasses--
But on Passover night
you would never consider
eating an herb
that wasn't all bitter.

And on all other nights
you would probably flip
if anyone asked you
how often you dip.
On some days I only dip
one Bup-Bup egg
in a teaspoon of vinegar
mixed with nutmeg,
but sometimes we take
more than ten thousand tails
of the Yakkity-birds
that are hunted in Wales,
and dip them in vats
full of Mumbegum juice.
Then we feed them to Harold,
our six-legged moose.
Or we don't dip at all!
We don't ask your advice.
So why on this night
do we have to dip twice?

And on all other nights
we can sit as we please,
on our heads, on our elbows,
our backs or our knees,
or hang by our toes
from the tail of a Glump,
or on top of a camel
with one or two humps,
with our foot on the table,
our nose on the floor,
with one ear in the window
and one out the door,
doing somersaults
over the greasy k'nishes
or dancing a jig
without breaking the dishes.
on all other nights
you sit nicely when dining--
So why on this night
must it all be reclining?

-- Four Questions
-- Four Children
Source : Original
Traditionally, The Four Sons (or Children) include a wise son, a wicked (or rebellious) son, a simple son and one who does not even know enough to ask.  Each of the first three ask questions about the Seder, essentially "Explain all this to me - what are my responsibilities?" "What has all this nonsense you are babbling about got to do with me?" and "What IS all this anyway?" while the fourth is silent - requiring the adults to be proactive in providing an explanation of the Seder proceedings.

Some say that The Four Children is a metaphor for four different attitudes toward tradition, toward belonging and toward being active or passive in the face of injustice.  Some say it is about stages of life, from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood (and, potentially, back again toward old age).

In the spirit of telling the story of Exodus and different attitudes that one might take to one's communal and global responsibilities, think about your relationship to your tradition, the people from whom or the place from which you come and the events taking place there.

- Do you understand what is going on?

- Do you feel any obligation to do anything about it?

- What would you do if you could?

- What should you tell your children about it?

-- Exodus Story

Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham, the first person to have the idea that maybe all those little statues his contemporaries worshiped as gods were just statues. The idea of one G-d, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.

G-d had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

Raise the glass of wine and say:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation there are those who rise against us. But G-d saves us from those who seek to harm us.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years of life in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they chose to enslave. Hard labor was demanded, perhaps even building pyramids. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

But G-d heard the cries of the Israelites. And G-d brought them out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. G-d brought them out not by angel or messenger, but through G-d’s own intervention.

-- Exodus Story
Source :
-- Exodus Story

In this clip you see Dr. Ruth Westheimer "leaving Egypt" in Melissa Shiff's Passover Projections.

Melissa Shiff uses video technology and a clip from Cecil B. DeMille's iconic film The Ten Commandments to enact the injunction in the Haggadah: "In every Generation one should feel as if they had personally left Egypt"

With her video installation Passover Projections Shiff is able to place people into DeMille's film so that they are "leaving Egypt"

Shiff sees this as a humourous way of getting people to identify with the subject position of the oppressed.

-- Exodus Story
Source : Melissa Shiff

The Hasidic Reggae Superstar Matisyahu "leaving Egypt" via Melissa Shiff's video installation Passover Projections where passers-by get inserted into Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 classic movie "The Ten Commandments" in real time. ( Melissa Shiff, Video Still, Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, NY. 2006).

-- Exodus Story

Artist Melissa Shiff "leaving Egypt" in her video installation Passover Projections. (Melissa Shiff, Video Still, New York University Hillel Gallery, 2005.)

-- Exodus Story

Refugees Give Refuge: A Rhode Island Mitzvah

Contributed by Mishael Zion

When we retell the story of our flight from Egypt, we come to appreciate all those who have been refugees and fugitives. The oldest standing synagogue in North America was built in 1763 in Newport, Rhode Island, by Spanish-Portuguese immigrants, descendants of persecuted Marrano Jews. They had come to America so they could, for the first time in generations, openly practice their Judaism in their new home. In the center of the synagogue, under the  Bima, they built a special hiding place, as a lesson learned from their many years of persecution and their undercover Jewish practice. For 100 years the congregants retold their story and passed on the secret of the underground shelter.

Thankfully, Jews have never had to use this hideout. But there were other people who came to the synagogue in search of a hiding place, on their way to freedom from oppression: In the years preceding the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves in the United States (1863, 100 years after the synagogue was founded), many slaves were smuggled from the South to the North, on their way to safety in Canada. The Jewish community put their synagogue and its underground hiding place at the disposal of the refugee slaves, fugitives from injustice, on their way to freedom. In this way they gave a renewed interpretation to the  mitzvah :

"If a slave has taken refuge with you from his/her persecutors, do not hand the slave over to the master. Let the fugitive slave live among you wherever s/he likes and in whatever town s/he chooses. Do not oppress the slave." (Deuteronomy, 23:15-16)

-- Exodus Story
Source : Abraham Lincoln Quote, Design by
-- Exodus Story
Source :
-- Exodus Story
Source :
Sefer Shemot illustrated through LEGOs
-- Exodus Story

When Israel was in Egypt’s land

“Let My people go”

Oppressed so hard they could not stand,

“Let My people go.”

Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,

Tell old Pharaoh, “Let My people go.”

Thus said the Lord, bold Moses said,

“Let My people go.”

-- Exodus Story
Source : Abraham Joshua Heschel, Design by

-- Exodus Story
-- Ten Plagues
Source : Design by

-- Ten Plagues
As we rejoice at the miraculous story of deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that this freedom was hard-earned. We regret that this freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of G-d. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them. Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague. These are the ten plagues which G-d brought down on the Egyptians: Blood | dam |דָּם Frogs | tzfardeiya |צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ Lice | kinim |כִּנִּים Beasts | arov |עָרוֹב Cattle disease | dever |דֶּֽבֶר Boils | sh’chin |שְׁחִין Hail | barad |בָּרָד Locusts | arbeh |אַרְבֶּה Darkness | choshech |חֹֽשֶׁךְ Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot |מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת The Egyptians needed ten plagues because after each one they were able to come up with excuses and explanations rather than change their behavior. What are the plagues that allow people or institutions to hold on to ill-begotten art? What may make them realize the errors of their ways?
-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Original Illustration from

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : HIAS Seder Supplement
I will deliver you...

Just as we remember all of the times throughout history when the nations of the world shut their doors on Jews fleeing violence and persecution in their homelands, so, too, do we remember with gratitude the bravery of those who took us in during our times of need the Ottoman Sultan who welcomed Spanish Jews escaping the Inquisition, Algerian Muslims who protected Jews during pogroms in the French Pied -Noir, and the righteous gentiles hiding Jews in their homes during World War II. In the midst of the current global refugee crisis, we aspire to stand on the right side of history as we ask our own government to take a leadership role in protecting the world’s most vulnerable refugees. May we find the bravery to open up our nation and our hearts to those who are in need. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, who delivers those in search of safety.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Blessed are You, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Simon Wood

Ilu ho-tsi, ho-tsi-a-nu,
Ho-tsi-a-nu mi-Mitz-ra-yim,
Ho-tsi-a-nu mi-Mitz-ra-yim,


.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu!
.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Dai, da-ye-nu,
.. Da-ye-nu, da-ye-nu!

Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu,
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat,
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat,


Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu,
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah,
Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah,



Miriam: The Red Sea

High above shores and times,
I on the shore
forever and ever.
Moses my brother
has crossed over
to milk, honey,
that holy land.
Building Jerusalem.
I sing forever
on the seashore.
I do remember
horseman and horses,
waves of passage
poured into war,
all poured into journey.
My unseen brothers
have gone over;
deep seas under.
I alone stand here
and I sing, I sing,
until the lands
sing to each other.

© Muriel Rukeyser, from “Searching/Not Searching,” in  Breaking Open  (New York: Random House, 1973). 

Source : Martin Luther King, Jr.

We still have a long, long way to go before we reach the promised land of freedom. Yes, we have left the dusty soils of Egypt, and we have crossed a Red Sea that had for years been hardened by long and piercing winter of massive resistance, but before we reach the majestic shored of the promised land, there will still be gigantic mountains of opposition ahead and prodigious hilltops of injustice.

Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls that separate the outer city of wealth and the comfort from the inner city of poverty and despair shall be crushed by the battering rams of the forces of justice.

Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.

Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast into the junk heaps of history, and every family will live in a decent sanitary home.

Let us be dissatisfied until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools will be transformed into bright tomorrows of quality integrated education.

Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.

Let us be dissatisfied until men and women...will be judged on the basis of the content of their character, not on the basis of the color of their skin.

Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let us be dissatisfied until the day when nobody will shout, "White Power!" when nobody will shout, "Black Power!" but everybody will talk about God's power and human power.

Source :

The Eating of Bitter Herbs

A blessing is said over maror (bitter herbs—usually red or white horseradish).

[One raises the maror and says:]

Why do we eat this bitter herb?

It is because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in Egypt, as it is written:

They made life bitter for them with hard labor, with clay and bricks, and with all kinds of labor in the field; the work tasks they performed were backbreaking.

The maror also speaks of the bitterness of sin and its consequences, and the pain of those without a relationship with G-d.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eh-lo-hay-noo meh-lekh ha-olam,
Asher kidshanu b'mitsvotav v'tsivanu al akhilat maror.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe,
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to eat bitter herbs.

[Dip a piece of matzah in the horseradish, and eat]

Source : Jewish Council on Urban Affairs Justice and Freedom Seder 2008/5768

We take a piece of the bitter herb from the Seder plate and
prepare to eat it.
This is a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. As we eat the
maror, let us remember the bitterness that many immigrants still

We say together:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַ ת מָרוֹר.

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotavv’tzivanu al achilat maror.
Blessed are you, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your
commandments and commanded us to eat maror.

To Consider- Rabbenu Asher, Pesachim 2:19 (from the Talmud)
Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, “Why is Egypt
compared to Maror?” Like Egypt at first it is soft, but in the end it is hard. Similarly, the
Egyptians first acted softly, but in the end were hard. In the beginning, they dealt gently
with the Israelites, but in the end, they imposed hard labor on them.

Source : Original Illustration from
Source : Rabbi Andrea Steinberger

Korech:  Mixing the Bitter and the Sweet

One of my favorite moments of the seder comes just before dinner is served.  It is called Korech.  It is also known as the Hillel sandwich.  It is the moment when we eat maror (the bitter herbs) and the charoset (the sweet apple and nut mixture) on a piece of matzah.  What a strange custom to eat something so bitter and something so sweet all in one bite.  I can taste it now, just thinking about it, and the anticipation is almost too much to bear.  I dread it, and I long for it all at the same time.  Why do we do such a thing?  We do it to tell our story.

The Jewish people tells our story through our observance of Jewish holidays throughout the year.  The holidays of Passover, Chanukah and Purim remind us just how close the Jewish people has come to utter destruction and how we now celebrate our strength and our survival with great joy, remembering God’s help and our persistence, and our own determination to survive. 

We also tell the story throughout our lifetime of Jewish rituals.  The breaking of a glass at a Jewish wedding reminds us that even in times of life’s greatest joys we remember the sadness of the destruction of the Temple.  When we build a home, some Jews leave a part unfinished to remember that even when building something new, we sense the times of tragedy in the Jewish people.  And on Passover we mix the sweet charoset with the bitter maror, mixing bitter and sweet of slavery and freedom all in one bite.

Throughout each year and throughout our lifetimes, we challenge ourselves to remember that even in times of strength, it is better to sense our vulnerability, rather than bask in our success.  We all have memories of times in which bitter and sweet were mixed in our lives, all in the same bite.  Judaism says, sometimes life is like that.  We can celebrate and mourn all at the same time.  And somehow, everything will be ok.  What is your korech moment?



Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon | צָפוּן

The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that under normal circumstances, we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. When we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives. Tonight, at this seder, we choose to not eat the afikomen, out of respect for the work to come in our quest to repair history.

Source : Abraham Joshua Heschel Quote, Design by
Source :
It is traditional at this point in the seder, to sing songs of praise. This is one of my favorites for this event.

Hinei ma tov umanaim

Shevet achim gam yachad

Hinei ma tov umanaim

Shevet achim gam yachad

Behold how good and

How pleasant it is

For brothers to dwell together


We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our seder.

In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of G-d to a disbelieving people. At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was whisked away to heaven. Tradition holds that he will herald in a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah at many joyous, hopeful Jewish occasions.

Source : Unknown

On Passover we

Opened the door for Elijah

Now our cat is gone.


This video sculpture was created for the Times Square Seder: Featuring the Matzo Ball Soup Kitchen by multi-media artist Melissa Shiff. The video is a cycle of endless doors opening from different classes of neighborhoods in Manhattan. It signifies that we should always be open to the Other whether that be Elijah or the stranger who is in need, thus recalling the injunction in the Haggadah to "Let all who are Hungry come in and Eat" and to invite a stranger to participate in the Seder. Elijah Chair is in the permanent collection of The Jewish Museum New York. (Melissa Shiff, Elijah Chair, Video Sculpture, 2002)

Source : Original Illustration from
Source : Jane M.

Look into any great moment in history and there are both men and women responsible.

We look back to Moses, and Miriam, and wait for Elijah.

We give thanks to Miriam, symbol for women everywhere.

It was Miriam, the Prophetess, symbol of all the courageous and worthy women who kept the home fires burning, even when the men became discouraged and despaired of redemption. Who then is more deserving to be "toasted" with wine and saluted for service "above and beyond" than she?

If the Cup of Elijah is one symbolizing hope for future redemption, Miriam's Cup symbolizes redemption realized through the tireless efforts of Israelite women, and women everywhere. Let us honor Miriam for her heroism, and through her, all the brave, capable, devoted, faithful and loyal women of the world who have been, and continue to be, the ongoing source of strength and radical change for peace.

For the sake of our righteous women were our ancestors redeemed from Egypt. L'Chaim!


from So-Called Hip Hop Seder

Source : HIAS Seder Supplement
I will take you to be my people... ...

When we rise up from our Seder tables, let us commit ourselves to stamping out xenophobia and hatred in every place that it persists. Echoing God’s words when God said, “I take you to be my people,” let us say to those who seek safety in our midst, “we take you to be our people.” May we see past difference and dividing lines and remember, instead, that we were all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God. May we see welcoming the stranger at our doorstep not as a danger but as an opportunity – to provide safe harbor to those seeking refuge from oppression and tyranny, to enrich the fabric of our country and to live out our Jewish values in action. Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, who has created us all in Your image.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Blessed are You, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. 

Source : Robb Gordon

I grew up in an irreligious home. We rarely belonged to a Temple (Synagogue was too traditional) and attending a service was even rarer. When we did go to temple you would never a yarmulke except on the Rabbi & Cantor (sometimes). The only tallitot were these little vest things that the clergy wore. The only Hebrew was the Sh'ma, the Torah/Haftarah readings and the Mourner's Kaddish (which is really Aramaic).

But every year, without fail, the Passover dishes and linens would come out, and we would have a full-blown Seder. The only other holiday we really observed was Hannukah, and that was only by lighting the Hannukia and singing Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages).

All over the world Jews from the least to most observant observe rituals. Why? Perhaps it is the L'Dor V'Dor (generation to generation) thing, or as Tevye said, "Tradition". But this "kesher" - connection - is what has sustained us through thousands of years of occupation, exile, pogram, shoah, and assimilation.

Every year we return to relive the story - next year in Jerusalem!


Traditionally, at the end of Seder, Jews say “l’shanah haba-ah b’yerushalayim:” “next year in Jerusalem.” But in awareness of how this metaphor of freedom has been misused, and ignores the reality of the displacement of Palestinians from their homeland, we call for peace and justice in Palestine and all over the world and end by saying, “l’shanah haba-ah b’cheroot: next year in freedom.”

This year we are slaves. Next year, free people. This year we live in a world at war with itself, a world in agony; next year may we celebrate in a world at peace, a just world.

This year Palestinians are refugees. Next year all Palestinians will have the right to return to their home lands and to Jerusalem!

Lo yisa goy

All sing together:

Lo yisa goy el goy kherev

Lo yilmedu od milkhama.

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation.

Neither shall they learn war any more.

And each ‘neath their vine and fig tree,

Shall live in peace and unafraid.

Commentary / Readings
Source : Shalom Center

On April 4, 1969, the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, the third night of Passover, hundreds of people of varied racial and religious communities gathered in a Black church in the heart of Washington DC to celebrate the original Freedom Seder. For the first time, it intertwined the ancient story of liberation from Pharaoh with the story of Black America's struggle for liberation, and the liberation of other peoples as well.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Seder and to address one of the greatest dangers ever to face the human race the danger of "global scorching" worse than the traditional "Ten Plagues" -- The Shalom Center has initiated a New Freedom Seder for the Earth and is sponsoring it in
Washington DC on March 29, 2009. 

Commentary / Readings
Source : Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The world was awakened and shattered by the images of a little boy whose body lay lifeless amidst the gentle surf of a Turkish beach this past summer. Another nameless victim amongst thousands in the Syrian Refugee Crisis, the greatest refugee crisis since WWII. But this little boy, like every little boy ,had a name. His name was Aylan Kurdi (age 3), he drowned along with his older brother, Galip (age 5), and their mother, Rihan, on their own exodus to freedom’s distant shore.

Aylan and Galip’s father, Abdullah, survived the harrowing journey – though how does a parent survive the death of their children? In teaching the world about his sons, he shared that they both loved bananas, a luxury in their native war-torn Syria. Every day after work, Abdullah, like mothers and fathers everywhere, would bring home a banana for his sons to share, a sweet little treat, a sign of his enduring love for them.

Tonight we place a banana on our seder table and tell this story to remind us of Aylan, Galip and children everywhere who are caught up in this modern day exodus. May they be guarded and protected along their journey to safety, shielded by the love of their parents, watched over by God full of mercy and compassion.

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz, Temple Sholom Vancouver, British Columbia

For more information on the refugee crisis, please visit For all Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism resources, please visit

Source : Time of Israel

An only kid! An only kid

My father bought for two zuzim

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the cat and ate the kid

My father bought For two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the dog And bit the cat

That ate the kid

My father bought For two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the stick and beat the dog

That bit the cat that ate the kid

My father bought For two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the fire and burned the stick

That beat the dog That bit the cat

That ate the kid

My father boughtFor two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the water and quenched the fire

That burned the stick That beat the dog

That bit the cat That ate the kid

My father bought For two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

Then came the ox and drank the water

That quenched the fire That burned the stick

That beat the dog That bit the cat

That ate the kid

My father boughtFor two zuzim.

Chad gadya, Chad gadya

8. Then came the butcher And killed the ox . . .

9 Then came the angel of deathAnd slew the butcher . .

10. Then came the Holy One, blest be He!And destroyed the angel of death . 


Cantor Moshe Oysher sings and scats his way through Chad Gad Ya.


Josh Dolgin DJ Socalled - Who Knows One? (2006)

Source : Pete Seeger,

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Uptown Funk  Pesach Style

Source : Common & John Legend,