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Maggid - Beginning
Source : David Arnow, New Israel Fund 2006

For discussion:

Ask a few children to talk about what they think would be the worst thing about being a slave. 

This passage includes two invitations: 1) Let all who are hungry come and eat. 2)  Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover.

What might each address? What do you make of their order?

What might the Haggadah mean when it says “now we are slaves?” In what sense might we be more free next year?

A 2005 United Nations Children Fund study of 25 Western countries found child poverty rates between a low of 2.4% (Denmark) and a high 27.8% (Mexico) with the U.S. second from the highest at 21.9%. Using comparable methods of analysis, Israeli researchers found that in Israel 30.8% of children live in poverty. How should Jews respond to this issue?

MODERN REFLECTIONS: Read aloud and discuss as desired

[M]ore than 3,300 years ago the Jews left Egypt. It was more than 3,000 years before the Mayflower, and every Jew in the world knows exactly the date when we left. It was on the 15th of Nisan. The bread they ate was matzot. Up till today all the Jews throughout the world…eat the same matzot, and tell the story of the exile to Egypt…they begin with these two sentences: “This year we are slaves; next year we shall be free. This year we are here; next year we shall be in the Land of Israel.” Jews are like that.

—David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973) in testimony given in 1946 before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, one of the many commissions charged with deliberating Palestine’s fate/

Commentary / Readings
Source : David Arnow, New Israel Fund 2006

We at the New Israel Fund continue to focus on issues of civil rights, social justice and religious pluralism in Israel—challenges that remain as pressing as ever. But this year, as we celebrate Passover, z’man cheiruteinu—the season of our liberation—we add our voices to those demanding an end to the genocide in Darfur.

We read in the Passover Haggadah about Pharaoh’s “oppression” of the Israelites. Today we would surely call it genocide: 

And [God] saw our oppression that is, the conjugal separation of husband and wife, as it is written:  God saw the children of Israel and God knew (Ex. 2:25).

Our misery refers to the drowning of the sons, as it is written: Every son that is born you shall cast into the river, but you shall let every daughter live (Ex. 1:22). First, Pharaoh drowns all newborn sons. Then he tries to eliminate the Israelites through forced labor and a program of zero population growth—“the separation of husband from wife.” The Haggadah recounts one of the earliest attempts at genocide. Tonight we must consider how we can help prevent the most recent case: Darfur.