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Passover begins with the lighting of the candles.

Typically, the privilege of candle-lighting is bestowed upon the woman of the household (e.g. matriarch), because the Lord's blessing comes into the house through woman.

If the festival falls on Shabbat she lights the candles, while there is still daylight, and then says the blessings. The first blessing, "to kindle the lights of the festival", for this occasion is as follows:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu lehhadlik ner shel shabbat v'shel yom tov.


Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Shabbat and Yom Tov light.

This is then followed by the shehecheyanu blessing.

If the festival falls on any other day, she says the blessing first and then lights the candles after, or as soon as, nightfall comes. For this occasion, the first blessing is as follows:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu lehhadlik ner shel yom tov.


Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Yom Tov light.

The shehecheyanu blessing:

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam Shehecheyanu v'ki'manu v'higiyanu lazman hazeh.


Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, Who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.

The lights have now been kindled and Passover begins.


The Shehecheyanu is a joyous blessing that is recited at the arrival of any long awaited occasion.

This blessing speaks to our thankfulness for life itself and the people who brought us into the world, for the opportunities and people who helped raise us up to the life we live today, and for this very moment of joy and celebration.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה

Barukh Atah Adonay Eloheynu Melekh ha'olam shehekheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Source : Image by Mel. Text adapted from Dinah Winnick and
Lighting the Candles

We rejoice in the warm light and rich blessings of this season. The celebration of Passover represents the perennial rebirth and survival of humanity and the world of nature. The light of these candles symbolizes a renewal of life and a reaffirmation of our freedom.

Let us appreciate the existence we share with all living things in this world, from the ground below to the sky above. Let us always try to enjoy the good that each year brings, and be thankful for each new day we have to experience the people we love and things we are able do in our daily lives.

Passover holiday candles are lit by the (traditionally, the eldest) woman of the house no later than 18 minutes before sundown. After kindling the candles, she waves her hands over the flames three times (as if welcoming in the holiday), and, covering her eyes with her hands (so as to not see the candles burning), says the following blessing (if Passover occurs on Shabbat, insert "Shabbat v'shel" before "yom tov"):

Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav ve-tsivanu lehadlik ner shel (shabbat v'shel) yom tov.

Blessed is the force of the universe that gave us purpose and allows us to light the candles of (Shabbat and) the holiday.

Following the lighting of the candles, she recites the Shehecheyanu Blessing:

Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, she-hecheyanu v'ki-yemanu vehigiyanyu​ lazeman hazeh.

Blessed is the force of the universe that has kept us alive, sustained us and brought us to this special moment.

Source : Living a Jewish Life - Anita Diamant

The first Jewish holiday meal celebration we organized for our friends and family was a Passover seder in Caracas in 2008. This Haggadah is a reminder of our first steps as a Jewish family. We hope you like it as much as we do. Chag Sameach!

Jon and Adri

This part includes:

Kiddush: is recited over the first cup of wine.

Shehecheyanu: the prayer for having reached this moment.

Karpas: a blessing recited over the green vegetable, which is then dipped into salt water and tasted by everyone.

Afikomen: this is the name given to the middle of the three matzot on the covered plate. The piece is broken, and the larger part of it is hidden and then ransomed by the children after the meal.

Source : Original Illustration from
Four Cups of Wine

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Source : Revenge of Dinah: A Feminist Seder on Rape Culture in the Jewish Community

A simple piece of Matzah serves to remind us of the immense suffering of ancient slavery. Now we take into account a second item, bitter chocolate, to remind us of modern suffering. One might question how chocolate is representative of hardship, for its purpose is to satisfy one’s pleasures, to be eaten in times of love and craving. Simply put, it is expected to be sweet, but when it is not, the unwanted chocolate is automatically dismissed and rejected. The expectations of chocolate is to be sweet and readily available for one’s satisfaction. Victims/survivors of rape culture can be seen in a similar light. A prize to be won by the hands of a pursuer, it softens, melts, drip, drip, drip. Their dignity mutilated down the wrist, almost ink, slowly hardening to etch su ering like blood. No longer a clean-cut square, the chocolate is transformed into a desired shape, sugar stu ed in to make it what it is not. Today, we embrace chocolate in its plain form, celebrating not its bitterness, but its strength.

Everyone at the table should eat a piece of bitter chocolate and consider quietly the ways in which they feel pressured to take shapes that aren’t natural to them.

Commentary / Readings
Source :
by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Commentary / Readings
Source : Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times, via Brain Pickings

Humanity manifests itself in brotherhood most frequently in “dark times.” This kind of humanity actually becomes inevitable when the times become so extremely dark for certain groups of people that it is no longer up to them, their insight or choice, to withdraw from the world. Humanity in the form of fraternity invariably appears historically among persecuted peoples and enslaved groups. ... This kind of humanity is the great privilege of pariah peoples; it is the advantage that the pariahs of this world always and in all circumstances can have over others. ...

It is as if under the pressure of persecution the persecuted have moved so closely together that the interspace ... has simply disappeared. This produces a warmth of human relationships which may strike those who have had some experience with such groups as an almost physical phenomenon.  ... 

In its full development it can breed a kindliness and sheer goodness of which human beings are otherwise scarcely capable. Frequently it is also the source of a vitality, a joy in the simple fact of being alive, rather suggesting that life comes fully into its own only among those who are, in worldly terms, the insulted and injured

Commentary / Readings

I speak to you as an American Jew.

As Americans we share the profound concern of millions of people about the shame and disgrace of inequality and injustice which make a mockery of the great American idea.

As Jews we bring to this great demonstration, in which thousands of us proudly participate, a two-fold experience -- one of the spirit and one of our history.

In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody's neighbor. Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man's dignity and integrity.

From our Jewish historic experience of three and a half thousand years we say:

Our ancient history began with slavery and the yearning for freedom. During the Middle Ages my people lived for a thousand years in the ghettos of Europe . Our modern history begins with a proclamation of emancipation.

It is for these reasons that it is not merely sympathy and compassion for the black people ofAmerica that motivates us. It is above all and beyond all such sympathies and emotions a sense of complete identification and solidarity born of our own painful historic experience.

When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things. The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not '.the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.

A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder.

America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America , but all of America . It must speak up and act,. from the President down to the humblest of us, and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea and the aspiration of America itself.

Our children, yours and mine in every school across the land, each morning pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands. They, the children, speak fervently and innocently of this land as the land of "liberty and justice for all."

The time, I believe, has come to work together - for it is not enough to hope together, and it is not enough to pray together, to work together that this children's oath, pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South, may become. a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally renewed and united America.

Commentary / Readings
Source : Rabbi Michael Lerner
When we talk about God we are talking about the spiritual energy of the universe which makes it possible to transcend the tendency of human beings to pass on to others the hurt and pain that has been done to us, the force that permeates every ounce of Being and unites all in one transcendent and imminent reality. God is the Force in the universe that makes possible the transformation from “that which is” to “that which can and ought to be” or, as God is quoted as saying in Torah, ehyeh asher ehyeh, which Rabbi Lerner translates as “the possibility of possibility.” In short, we understand God in part as the ultimate Unity of All with All, of whom we are always a part, even if we are not always conscious of the part of God we are, the part of God that everyone and everything is.