Please wait while we prepare your Haggadah...
This may take up to thirty seconds.


Long ago at this season, our people set out on a journey. On such a night as this, Israel went from degradation to joy. We give thanks for the liberation of days gone by. And we think of all who are still bound. May all who hunger come to rejoice in a new Passover. Let all the human family sit together, drink the wine of deliverance, and eat the bread of freedom:

Freedom from bondage and freedom from oppression
Freedom from hunger and freedom from want
Freedom from hatred and freedom from fear
Freedom to think and freedom to speak
Freedom to teach and freedom to learn
Freedom to love and freedom to share
Freedom to hope and freedom to rejoice
Soon, in our days.

Now in the presence of loved ones and friends, before us the symbols of festive rejoicing, we gather for our sacred celebration. With our elders and young ones, linking and bonding the past with the future, we heed once again the divine call to service. Living our story that is told for all peoples, whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold, we gather to observe Passover. For as long as one person is oppressed, none of us is truly free.

Adapted from Dara Sabadin

Source : Adapted from Dr. Joseph Lowin (Executive Director of the National Center for the Hebrew Language (NY)

A Hebrew Lesson on the Root S-D-R

How is the festival meal of Passover different from the meal eaten at other holiday celebrations? For one thing, the Passover repast is consumed in the context of a scripted dramatic arrangement, a seder, from the Hebrew verb l'sadder, "to arrange."

There are, to be sure, similar arrangements in Jewish ritual and textual life. The daily prayer book, which contains a sort of script for the performance of devotional texts, is called a siddur. One of the names of the weekly Torah portion read in synagogue is the sidrah, from the Aramaic cognate of the root. The Mishnah is divided into six sedarim ; the one containing the laws of Passover is called seder mo'ed, the "Order of the Festivals."

The root samekh, dalet, resh is founded in many more or less organized situations. If you volunteer to work on a kibbutz in Israel, the most important person to know is the not the kibbutz mazkir, "secretary," but the sadran ha-avodah. The word sadran is also used in Israeli theaters for an "usher," an essential and effective figure who helps prevent absolute and utter i'seder as everyone rushes to find a good seat.

There are many more uses, but perhaps the most common is the assurance that "everything's all right," ha kol b'seder. At the Passover seder this year, as we celebrate the Festival of Freedom, let us pray on behalf of people throughout the world, that all will be (be-seder), all right and in order.

Source : Adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer, New American Haggadah
Order of the Passover Seder

Source : Adapted from Chabad

The first cup of wine is poured and the Kiddush is recited.

When the festival occurs on Shabbat, start here: And it was evening and it was morning. The sixth day. And the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed. And on the seventh day God finished the work which God had made, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it God rested from all the work which God had done in creation.

When the festival begins on a weekday begin here:

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

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

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has chosen us from among all people, and raised us above all tongues, and made us holy with commandments. You have given us in love (On Shabbat add the underlined words) Shabbaths for rest and festivals for happiness, feasts and festive seasons for rejoicing this Shabbat day and the day of this Feast of Matzot and this Festival of holy convocation, the Season of our Freedom in love, a holy convocation, commemorating the departure from Egypt. For You have chosen us and sanctified us from all the nations, and You have given us as a heritage Your holy Shabbat and Festivals in love and favor, in happiness and joy. Blessed are You, God, who sanctifies the Shabbat and Israel and the festive seasons.

When the festival falls on Saturday night add the following: Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the lights of fire. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes a distinction between sacred and profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six work-days. You have made a distinction between the holiness of the Shabbat and the holiness of the festival, and You have sanctified the seventh day above the six work-days. You have set apart and made holy Your people Israel with Your holiness. Blessed are You who makes a distinction between holy and holy.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has given us life and sustenance
and brought us to this happy season.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-hechiyanu v’key’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Drink the cup of wine while seated, reclining on the left side as a sign of freedom.

by VBS
Source : VBS Haggadah
Slaves eat quickly, stopping neither to wash nor to reflect. Tonight, we are free. We wash and we express our reverence for the blessings that are ours.

Pass a bowl of water, a small cup and a towel around the table. Everyone pours three cupfuls over their fingers. There is no blessing over this washing.

Source : Adapted from Joseph Zitt

In washing our hands,
we also think of those who don't get to share
in the basic human right of abundant, clean water

of people deprived of water
by the weather
in Somalia, in India, in California

and those deprived of water
by human action
in places like Flint, Michigan

as well as those whose homes have been ravaged
by wind and water
in Puerto Rico, in California, and in New Jersey.

We wash our hands
and accept our responsibilities
to those threatened
by the presence and absence of water

and pray that those
with the human power to change things
do not wash their hands
of what the world needs them to correct.

Source : Chabad

Take less than a kezayit (the volume of one olive) of the karpas, dip it into salt-water or vinegar, and recite the following blessing. When reciting this blessing have in mind that it is also for the bitter herbs ( maror and korech, to be eaten later on).

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the earth.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha'adamah.


Break the middle matzah in the plate, and leave half of it there.  Put aside the other half for the Afikoman. 

Uncover the matzah and lift up the plate for all to see.

Maggid - Beginning

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
-- Four Questions
-- Four Questions

How is this night different from all other nights?
מַה נִּשְּׁתַּנָה הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילוֹת
Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot?

On all other nights, we eat both leavened and unleavened bread. Why on this night, only unleavened bread?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כּוּלוֹ מַצָּה
Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin chametz umatzah, halailah hazeh, kuloh matzah.

On all other nights, we eat all vegetables. Why, on this night, only bitter herbs?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר
Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin sh'ar y'rakot, halailah hazeh, maror.

On all other nights, we do not dip herbs even once. Why on this night do we dip them twice?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אֶנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּעַם אֶחָת, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעָמִים
Sheb'chol haleilot ein anu matbilin afilu pa'am echat; halailah hazeh, sh'tei f'amim.

On all other nights, we eat in any manner. Why on this night do we all recline?
שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין, הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָנו מְסֻבִּין
Sheb'chol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m'subin; halailah hazeh, kulanu m'subin.

Uncover the matzah and begin the reply.

-- Four Children
Source : Original Design by
In Every Generation, Fill in The Blanks

What's missing in your Passover narrative? Fill in the blanks. Order your copy here:

-- Four Children

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Eternal our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm. If the God had not taken our fathers out of Egypt, then we, our children and our children's children might still have been enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt. Therefore, if all of us were wise, all of us understanding, all of us learned in the Torah, we would still be obligated to discuss the exodus from Egypt; and everyone who discusses the exodus from Egypt at length is to be praised.

It happened that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarphon were reclining at a seder in B'nei Berak. They were discussing the exodus from Egypt all that night, until their students came to tell them it was time for the morning prayers.

Rabbi Eleazar ben Azaryah said: "I am a man of seventy years old, yet I did not understand that the story of the departure from Egypt must be told at night until Ben Zoma explained it.  It is said "That you may remember the day you left Egypt all the days of your life."  Ben Zoma explained, "The days of your life" refers to the days, but "all" indicates the inclusion of the nights!"

The sages, however, also said: "The days of your life" refers to this world only; and "all" indicates the inclusion of the days of Messiah."

Blessed is God who gave the Torah to God's people Israel, blessed be God! The Torah speaks of four children: One who is wise, one who is contrary, one who is simple and one who does not even know how to ask a question.

The wise asks, "What are the testimonies, the statutes, the customs, and the laws which the Eternal our God, has commanded us?" You, in turn, shall instruct the wise child in the laws of Passover, to the very last detail of the Afikoman.

The contrary one asks, "What is this service to you?"  The contrary child says "to you, " By excluding himself from the community he has denied that which is fundamental. You, therefore tell him plainly: "It is because of what the Eternal did for me when I left Egypt." For me but not for him; had he been there, he would not have been redeemed!"

The simple child asks, "What is this?" Thus you shall say to the simple child: "With a strong hand the Eternal brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage."

As for the one who does not know how to ask, you must begin with that child, as it is said: "You shall tell your child on that day, `It is because of that which the Eternal did for me when I left Egypt.'"

-- Exodus Story

In the beginning our ancestors served idols; but now the Eternal One has brought us into service, as it is said: "Joshua said to all the people: Thus said the Eternal God of Israel, `Your ancestors used to live on the other side of the river - Terach, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor - and they served other gods. "And I took your father Abraham from beyond the river, and I led him throughout the whole land of Canaan. I increased his family and gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it, and Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt."

Blessed is God who keeps promises to Israel, blessed be the Eternal. For God foretold the end of the bondage to Abraham at the "Covenant between the Portions," as it is said: "And God said to Abraham, `You shall know that your children will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved there and will be oppressed for four hundred years. But I shall also judge the nation who will oppress them, and after that they will come forth with great wealth.'"

Raise the cup of wine and say:

This promise made to our ancestors holds true also for us. For more than once they have risen against us to destroy us. In every generation they rise against us and seek our destruction; and the Holy One saves us from their hands!

Put down the wine cup and uncover the Matzah.

Come and learn what Laban the Aramean wanted to do to our father Jacob. Pharaoh had issued a decree against the male children only, but Laban wanted to uproot everyone - as it is said: "The Aramean wished to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and dwelled there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great and mighty and numerous."

"And he went down to Egypt" forced by Divine decree. "And he dwelled there" - this teaches that Jacob did not go down to Egypt to settle, but only to live there temporarily. It is said, "They said to Pharaoh, We have come to dwell in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks because the hunger is severe in the land of Canaan; and now, please, let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen."

"Few in number" as it is said: "Your ancestors went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now Eternal has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven." "And he became there a nation" this teaches that Israel was distinctive there. "Great, mighty," as it is said: "And the children of Israel were fruitful and increased and multiplied and became mighty, and the land became filled with them." "And numerous," as it is said: "I caused you to thrive like the plants of the field, and you increased and grew and became very beautiful, but you were naked and bare."

"The Egyptians treated us badly and they made us suffer, and they put hard work upon us." "The Egyptians did evil unto us," as it is said: "Come, let us deal craftily with them lest they multiply and, if there should be a war against us, they will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the land."

"And they made us suffer," as it is said: "They set taskmasters over them in order to oppress them with their burdens, and they built storage cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Ramses." "And they put hard work upon us," as it is said: "The Egyptians made the children of Israel work with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard work, with mortar and with bricks and all manner of service in the field."

"And we cried out to the Eternal, God of our fathers," as it is said: "It came to pass that the King of Egypt died; and the children of Israel groaned because of the servitude, and they cried out. And their cry for help from their servitude rose up to God." "And the Eternal heard our voice" as it said: "And God heard their groaning, and God remembered the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." "And God saw our suffering," this refers to the separation of husband and wife, as it is said: "God saw the children of Israel and God took note." "Our labor," this refers to the "children," as it is said: "Every boy that is born, you shall throw into the river and every girl you shall keep alive." "And our oppression," this refers to crushing our lives, as it is said: "I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them."

-- Ten Plagues

"The Eternal took as out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with a great manifestation, and with signs and wonders."

"The Eternal took us out of Egypt," not by a ministering angel, not by a fiery angel and not through a messenger, but only by the glory of God. Thus it is said: "In that night I will pass through the land of Egypt, and I will smite every first-born in the land of Egypt, from man to beast, and I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt, I the Eternal." "I will pass through the land of Egypt," I and not an angel; "And I will smite every first-born in the land of Egypt," I and not a fiery angel; "And I will carry out judgments against all the gods of Egypt," I and not a messenger; "I the Eternal," I and no other.

"With a strong hand," this refers to the dever (cattle plague) as it is said: "Behold, the hand of the Eternal will be upon your livestock in the field, upon the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds and the flocks, a very severe pestilence." "And with an outstretched arm," this refers to the sword, as it is said: "His sword was drawn, in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem." "And with a great manifestation," this refers to the revelation of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) to Israel, as it is said: "Has any God ever tried to take a nation from the midst of another nation, with trials, signs and wonders, with war and with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, and with great terrors, like all that the Eternal your God, did for you in Egypt before your eyes?"

"And with signs," this refers to the staff of Moses, as it is said: "Take into your hand this staff with which you shall perform the signs." "And wonders," this refers to the blood, as it is said: "And I shall show wonders in heaven and on earth."

Spill three drops of wine.

Blood  דָם

Fire  וָאֵשׁ

Pillars of Smoke   וְתִימְרוֹת עָשָׁן

Another explanation is as follows: "Strong hand" indicates two plagues; "Outstretched arm," another two; "Great manifestation," another two; "Signs," another two; and "Wonders," another two. Thus, we have the ten plagues that the Holy One brought upon the Egyptians in Egypt.

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Adapted from the Machar Congregation

A full cup of wine symbolizes complete happiness. The triumph of Passover is diminished by the sacrifice of many human lives

when ten plagues were visited upon the people of Egypt. The plagues that befell the Egyptians resulted from the decisions of tyrants, but the greatest suffering occurred among those who had no choice but to follow.

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

Spill a drop of wine for each of the ten plagues.

Blood - Dam דָם
Frogs - Ts'phardea צְּפַרְדֵּעַ
Vermin - Kinim כִּנִּים
Beasts - Arov עָרוֹב
Cattle Disease - Dever דֶּבֶר
Boils - Sh'chin שְׁחִין
Hail - Barad בָּרָד
Locusts - Arbeh אַרְבֶּה
Darkness - Choshech חוֹשֶך
Slaying of the Firstborn - Makkat B'chorot מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת

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

In our own time, as in ancient Egypt, ordinary people suffer and die as a result of the actions of the tyrants who rule over them. While we may rejoice in the defeat of tyrants in our own time, we must also express our sorrow at the suffering of the many innocent people who had little or no choice but to follow. As the pain of others diminishes our joys, let us once more diminish the ceremonial drink of our festival as we together recite the names of these modern plagues:

Pollution of the Earth

Indifference to Suffering

-- Ten Plagues

Rabbi Yehudah referred to the plagues by their Hebrew initials. 

Spill three drops of wine.

D'tzach דְּצ"ַךְ
Adash עַד"ַשׁ
B'achav בְּאַח"ַב

-- Ten Plagues

Rabbi Yosi the Gallilean said: How do you know that the Egyptians were stricken by ten plagues in Egypt, and then were struck by fifty plagues at the sea? Of one of the plagues Egypt it is said, "The magicians said to Pharaoh `This is the finger of God.' At the Red Sea it is said, "Israel saw the great hand that the Eternal laid against Egypt; and the people feared the Eternal, and they believed in the Eternal and in Moses, the servant of the Eternal."  If one finger of God in Egypt caused ten plagues, we may assume from this that the whole hand of God at the Red Sea would cause fifty plagues.

Rabbi Eliezer said: How can one show that each individual plague which the Holy One brought upon the Egyptians in Egypt consisted of four plagues?

For it is said: "The Eternal sent against them in burning anger, Wrath, Indignation, Trouble, and Messengers of Evil": Wrath is one, Indignation makes two, Trouble makes three, and Messengers of Evil makes four.  If this is true, then in the Egyptians were struck by forty plagues, and at the sea they were stricken by two hundred plagues.

Rabbi Akiva said: One could show that that each individual plague which the Holy One, blessed be He, brought upon the Egyptians in Egypt consisted of five plagues. For it is said: "God sent against the Egyptians Bruning Anger, Wrath, Indignation, Trouble, and the Messengers of Evil." Bruning Anger is one, Wrath is two, Indignation is three, Trouble is four, and Messengers of Evil makes five. Thus you must now say that in Egypt they were struck by fifty plagues, and at the sea they were stricken by two hundred and fifty plagues.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Design by
Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

How thankful must we be to God, for all the good that the Omnipresent did for us.

Had God brought us out from Egypt and not executed judgment against the Egyptians,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God executed judgment against the Egyptians and not destroyed their idols,
It would been enough! Dayenu!

Had God destroyed their idols and not slain their firstborn,
It would been enough! Dayenu!

Had God slain their first born and not given us their property,
It would have been enough!, Dayenu!

Had God given us their property and not divided the sea,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God divided the sea for us and not brought us through dry-shod,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God brought us through dry-shod and not drowned our oppressors in the sea,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God drowned our oppressors in the sea and not sustained us in the desert for forty years,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God sustained us in the desert for forty years and not fed us manna,
It would have been enough Dayenu!

Had God fed us manna and not given us the Sabbath,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God given us the Sabbath and not brought us to mount Sinai,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God brought us to Mount Sinai, and not given us the Torah,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God given us the Torah and not brought us in the land of Israel,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

Had God brought us into the Land of Israel and not built for us the Holy Temple,
It would have been enough! Dayenu!

How much more so do we have to be thankful for the manifold and unbounded blessings of the Omnipresent God.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

Rabban Gamliel used to say: Whoever does not discuss the following three things on Passover has not fulfilled his duty, namely:

The Passover Offering
The Matzah
The Bitter Herbs

The Passover offering which our ancestors ate in the Temple days, what was the reason for it? It was because the Omnipresent passed over our ancestors' houses in Egypt, as it is said: "You shall say, It is a Passover offering to the Eternal, because God passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when striking the Egyptians with a plague, and saved our houses. And the people bowed and their heads and worshipped."

Point to the matzah.

This matzah that we eat, what is the reason for it? It is because tthere was not time for the dough of our ancestors in Egypt to become leavened, before the Ruler of all, the Holy one, revealed Godself to them and redeemed them, as it is said, "They baked unleavened cakes from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, because it was not leavened; for they had been driven out of Egypt and could not delay, and they had not prepared any provisions."

Point to the bitter herbs.

This maror that we eat, what is the reason for it? We eat them because the Egyptians embittered our ancestors' lives in Egypt, as it is written, "They made their lives bitter with hard service, with mortar and with bricks, and with all manner of service in the field; all the service which they made them do was rigorous."

In every generation we are all obligated to look upon ourselves as if we personally had come out of Egypt, as it is said: "You shall tell your child on that day, it is because of this that the Eternal did for me when I left Egypt." The Holy One, blessed be the Eternal, redeemed not only our ancestors from Egypt, but He redeemed also us with them, as it is said: "It was us that God brought out from there, so that God might bring us to give us the land pledged to our fathers."

Cover the matzah. Raise the cup of wine and say together:

Thus it is our duty to thank, and to praise in song and prayer, to glorify and extol the Eternal who performed all these wonders and miracles for our ancestors and for us. The Eternal brought us out from slavery to freedom, from anguish to joy, from sorry to festivity, from darkness to great light. Let us therefore sing before God a new song. Praise the Eternal.

Put down the cup and continue.

Halleluyah - Praise the Eternal.
Praise, you servants of the Eternal.
Praise the name of the Eternal.
Blessed be the name of the Eternal.
From now and for evermore;
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Praised by the name of the Eternal,
Supreme above all the nations is the Eternal;
His glory is above the heavens.
Who is like the Eternal our God,
Throned in exaltation,
Who looks down to both the heavens and the earth?
He raises up the poor from the dust,
Lifts up the needy from the ash-heap,
To seat them with princes,
With princes of the chosen people;
He makes the childless woman dwell in her household
As a joyful mother of children
Halleluyah - Praise the Eternal.

When Israel went forth from Egypt,
The house of Jacob from a people of strange tongue,
Judah became a sanctuary,
Israel became their dominion.
The sea beheld and fled.
The Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
The hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you did flee,
Jordan, that you turn back,
You mountains, that you skip like rams,
You hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Eternal,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turns the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of water.

Raise the cup of wine and say together:

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has redeemed us and redeemed our ancestors from Egypt, and enabled us to reach this night to eat matzah and maror. So too, God and God of our ancestors, enable us to reach other holidays and festivals in peace, with the rebuilding of Your city, and with rejoicing in Your service in the Holy Temple. Then we shall share in the sacrifices and the Passover offerings, and we shall thank You with a new song for our redemption and for the deliverance of our souls. Blessed are You, God, who redeemed Israel.

Recite the following blessing, and drink the cup in the reclining position:

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, creator of the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam, borei p'ri hagafen.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Quote by Michael Walzer
Michael Walzer, Exodus and Revolution

-- 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.

This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining the Jews in their wanderings. Filled with mayim chayim, waters of life, the well was a source of strength and renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind and soul, and make the meaning of Torah become alive.

As we prepare to wash our hands, we must remember that...many in the United States and around the world do not have access to clean water. Clean water is not a privilege; it is a basic human right. One in ten people currently lack access to clean water. That’s nearly 1 billion people in the world without clean, safe drinking water. Almost 3.5 million people die every year because of inadequate water supply.

We symbolize the uplifting of cleansed hands by raising hands into the air. 


Wash the hands, raise them in the air, and say:

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with mitzvot and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָים:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al netilat yadayim.

One should not speak until after making the next two blessings and eating the matzah.

Source : Davina Drabkin

Chag Hamatzot was celebrated by the settled segment of Israelite society, who lived in villages and who drew their subsistence from farming. For them spring was crucial, meaning the start of the harvest, of the cereals on which they depended.


Of the cereals grown by the ancient Israelites in this period, the first grain to be ready for harvest was barley. Although this made for inferior bread, it was highly prized: not rarely, by the spring harvest, the last year’s stores had been already depleted and hunger took grip of the land.

This new bread would have been unleavened, as the leavening used at the time was a portion of dough set aside from the last batch of bread. But this would have been unavailable due to the gap created by the empty stores. Add to this the fact that barley flour hardly rises anyway, and that the baking techniques of the time would have made even the superior bread made of wheat flour flat and hard, and you’ve got matzah.

Still, when hungry even matzah is a cause for celebration and one could imagine that the communal threshing grounds were filled with joy, cheer, and jubilation.


Say the blessings over the matzah together:

Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who brings forth bread from the earth.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְ‑יָ אֱ‑לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.

Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe,
Who made us holy with mitzvot and commanded us concerning the eating of matzah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav al achilat matzah.

Eat one kezayit of matzah in a reclining position.

Source : Religious Action Center

During the course of a holiday about the joy of freedom, we make a special effort to turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet… but doesn’t the sweet mean more when it’s layered over the bitterness?

The bitter herbs serve to remind us of how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Israelites in servitude. When we eat the bitter herbs, we share in that bitterness of oppression. We must remember that slavery still exists all across the globe. When you go to the grocery store, where does your food come from? Who picked the sugar cane for your cookie, or the coffee bean for your morning coffee? We are reminded that people still face the bitterness of oppression, in many forms.

Together, we recite,

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of the universe, who has sanctified us with mitzvot and ordained that we should eat bitter herbs.

ָבּרוּךְ ַאָתה יי ֱאלֹ ֵהינוּ ֶמֶלךְ ָהעוָֹלם, ֲא ֶשר ִקְד ָשנוּ ְבּ ִמ ְצווָֹתיו, ְו ִצָוּנוּ ַעל ֲאִכיַלת ָמרוֹר

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha'Olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.

Eat one kezayit of maror, dipped in the charoset but not overwhelmed by the sweetness of the charoset,
without reclining.

Source : Adapted from Ariana Silverman

The Talmud records a debate from ancient times in which the foremost teachers and interpreters of the law debated how to eat the seder's required foods: meat from the Passover sacrifice, maror, and matzah.  Many rabbis wrote that each food should be eaten separately.  They said each food has its own blessing and its own symbolism. Eating them together would be unnecessary and even confusing. Rabbi Hillel, however, argued that by combining the symbol of slavery (maror), the symbol of redemption (matzah), and the symbol of God's covenant with the Israelites (the Passover Offering), we remind ourselves that even the most bitter circumstances must end.

Because the Temple is no longer standing, there is nowhere to offer the Passover sacrifice, so charoset is eaten in the Hillel sandwich rather than the sacrificial lamb. 

Eat a sandwich of bitter herbs, charoset, and matzah as we read together:

In remembrance of the holy Temple, we do as Hillel did in Temple times.  He put matzah and bitter herbs together and ate them as a sandwich with the Passover Offering, in order to observe literally the worst of the Torah, "They shall eat [the offering] with matzah and bitter herbs."

Shulchan Oreich

The word 'afkoman' is of Greek derivation, according to some authorities from ἐπὶ κῶμον (epikohmon) - a call for the after-dinner pastime (κῶμον) - or the ἐπικώμιον (epikomion, festal song).  This is the final part of the seder meal.

The Hebrew word for this part of the seder, tzafun, means 'hidden', because now is the time to eat the larger piece of the middle matzah that was hidden earlier - the afikoman.  Each person at the seder table receives a piece. The Afikoman will be the last thing we eat tonight, and we should let the taste of this bread of affliction and bread of freedom linger in our mouths.

Eat at least a kezayit of the afikoman in the reclining position.


When the blessings after the meal have been said, finish with a blessing for the third cup of wine.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

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

Drink the third cup of wine.  Fill the fourth cup of wine.
Open the door for Elijah the Prophet.  All rise and say together,

Pour our Your wrath upon the nations that do not acknowledge You, and upon the kingdoms that do not call upon Your Name, for they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let the wrath of Your burning anger overtake them. Pursue them with anger, and destroy them from beneath the heavens of the Eternal.

Close the door.  All are seated.


Also on the table is a cup of wine left untouched for Elijah the prophet, Eliahu HaNavi. According to Jewish tradition, the Prophet Elijah was a brave man who denounced the slavery and wickedness, and he will return one day to lead everyone to peace and freedom. Jewish legends recall the mystical appearance of Elijah in times of trouble, to promise relief and redemption, to lift downcast spirits and to plant hope in the hearts of the downtrodden.

It is customary during the Passover Seder to open the door of the house for Elijah, in the hope that the age of universal peace may soon be at hand. We open the door to peace knowing that Elijah's task is really our own. Only when we have made a world where nation shall not lift up sword against nation, where justice is universal, and where each person is free, will the dream of peace be real. As we confront the injustice of this world, may we be like Elijah, who in defense of justice, spoke truth to power.

Miriam's Cup

We add a cup of water next to our Seder plate, to draw attention to the importance of Miriam, Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Bitya, and the other women of the Exodus story, women who have sometimes been overlooked.  Pharaoh pays little mind to the women, yet it is their daring actions that began it all.  Tradition says, "If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt" (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b)

Water played a role in Miriam’s life from the first time we meet her, watching over the infant Moses on the Nile, through her triumphant crossing of the Red Sea. She led the Israelites in song and dance at the shores of the Red Sea, transforming what might have been a terrifying escape into a celebration of freedom. The rabbis attribute to Miriam the well that traveled with the Israelites throughout their wandering in the desert. When Miriam died, the waters dried up. The people mourned the slave child who waited by a river, the woman who danced across a sea, the leader who sang a nation to freedom. When the springs flowed once more, they named them Miriam’s Well.

Miriam’s Cup, the kos Miriam, is a symbol of all that sustains us through our own journeys. It represents the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we wandered the desert. May our questions and our stories nourish us as Miriam’s Well renewed our people’s spirits.

Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach new places.

Pour water from Miriam's Cup into each participant's cup.

Source : JFREJ: Mixed Multitudes (2016)

Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi,
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu, hagiladi.
Bimheira beyameinu, yavo eleinu
Im moshiach ben David (2x)

Elijah, the prophet; Elijah, the Tishbite; Elijah, the Gileadite! Come quickly in our days with the Messiah from the line of David. 

Miriam han’vi’ah oz v’zimrah b’yadah.
Miriam tirkod itanu l’taken et haolam.
Bimheirah v’yameinu hi t’vi’einu
El mei hay’shuah (2x)

Miriam the prophet, strength and song in her hand; Miriam, dance with us in order to increase the song of the world! Miriam, dance with us in order to repair the world. Soon she will bring us to the waters of redemption!


Hallel is an opportunity to sing songs of praise and freedom. After Hallel, we drink the fourth cup of wine.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

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

We drink the fourth cup of wine in a reclining position.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, for the vine and the fruit of the vine, for the produce of the field, and for the precious, good and spacious land which You gave to our ancestors, to eat of its fruit and enjoy its goodness. Have compassion, O Eternal our God, upon us, upon Israel Your people, upon Jerusalem Your city, upon Zion the abode of Your glory, upon Your altar and upon Your Temple. Rebuild Jerusalem, the holy city, speedily in our days. Bring us there, and cheer us with its rebuilding, and we will bless You in holiness and purity ( On Shabbat add: Be gracious to us and strengthen us on this Shabbat day). Grant us joy and remember us for good on this day of the Festival of Matzot, for You, God, are good and do good, and we therefore give thanks to You for the land and for the fruit of the vine. Blessed are You, Eternal, for the land and for the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of innumerable living beings. We thank You for all the means that You have created to sustain all. Blessed be the Eternal.

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. 
Commentary / Readings

By Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative. The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”

In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women. There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she prophesied... “my mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel.” When [Moses] was born the whole house... filled with light[.] [Miriam’s] father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, “My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.” But when they threw [Moses] into the river her father tapped her on the head saying, “Daughter, where is your prophecy?” So it is written, “And [Miriam] stood afar off to know what would be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”

Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “It is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”

But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day. Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched. While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

Commentary / Readings
We start the seder by noticing what is out of the ordinary and then investigating its meaning further. How is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights, we depend on the exploitation of invisible others for our food, clothing, homes, and more. Tonight, we listen to the stories of those who suffer to create the goods we use. We commit to working toward the human rights of all workers. On all other nights, we have allowed human life to become cheap in the economic quest for the cheapest goods. Tonight, we commit to valuing all people, regardless of their race, class, or circumstances. On all other nights, we have forgotten that poverty, migration, and gender-based violence leave people vulnerable to exploitation, including modern-day slavery. Tonight, we commit to taking concrete actions to end this exploitation and its causes. On all other nights, we have forgotten to seek wisdom among those who know how to end slavery—the people who have experienced this degradation. Tonight, we commit to slavery prevention that is rooted in the wisdom and experience of workers, trafficking survivors, and affected communities. When the seder has ended, we will not return to how it has been “on all other nights.” We commit to bringing the lessons of this seder into our actions tomorrow.
Commentary / Readings
Source : Temple Israel of Boston

To be read following the chanting of the Four Questions.

1. The Torah demands, “Justice, justice shall you pursue!” (Deut 16:20). What are the obstacles to fulfilling this commandment in the context of criminal justice?

2. The Sage Hillel taught: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow” (BT Shabbat 31a). At the heart of our Passover story is the remembrance of being slaves in Egypt. How do we internalize this narrative of “imprisonment” and express it in our own public lives?

3. In Genesis we read that God created human beings, “b’tzelem Elohim, in God’s image.” How does institutionalized racism undermine this teaching? Do you feel obliged to assign this teaching to all human beings, including those who have committed heinous crimes?

4. The Talmud teaches, “The person who destroys one life, it is as though that person has destroyed the whole world; and the person who saves one life, it is as though that person has saved the whole world” (JT Sanhedrin 4:1). It is naive to overlook the societal necessity of a working criminal justice system. Imagine a criminal justice system that fulfills the supreme Jewish value of saving lives: What does it “look like”?

Commentary / Readings
Source : Temple Emunah Women’s Seder Haggadah Design Committee
Around our tables sit four daughters:

Wise Daughter

The wise daughter understands that not everything is as it appears. She is the one who speaks up, confident that her opinion counts. She is the one who can take the tradition and ritual that is placed before her, turn it over and over, and find personal meaning in it. She is the one who can find the secrets in the empty spaces between the letters of the Torah. She is the one who claims a place for herself even if the men do not make room for her. Some call her wise and accepting. We call her creative and assertive. We welcome creativity and assertiveness to sit with us at our tables and inspire us to act.

Wicked Daughter

The wicked daughter is the one who dares to challenge the simplistic answers she has been given. She is the one who asks too many questions. She is the one not content to remain in her prescribed place. She is the one who breaks the mold. She is the one who challenges the status quo. Some call her wicked and rebellious. We call her daring and courageous. We welcome rebellion to sit with us at our tables and make us uneasy.

Simple Daughter

The simple daughter is the one who accepts what she is given without asking for more. She is the one who trusts easily and believes what she is told. She is the one who prefers waiting and watching over seeking and acting. She is the one who believes that the redemption from Egypt was the final act of freedom. She is the one who follows in the footsteps of others. Some call her simple and naive. We call her the one whose eyes are yet to be opened. We welcome the contented one to sit with us at our tables and appreciate what will is still to come.

Daughter Who Does Not Know How to Ask

Last is the daughter who does not know how to ask. She is one who obeys and does not question. She is the one who has accepted men’s definitions of the world. She is the one who has not found her own voice. She is the one who is content to be invisible. Some call her subservient and oppressed. We call her our sister. We welcome the silent one to sit with us at our tables and experience a community that welcomes the voices of women.

Commentary / Readings
A Meditation on the Four Children

by Rabbi Brant Rosen

As Jews, how do we respond when we hear the tragic news regularly coming out of Israel/Palestine? How do we respond to reports of checkpoints and walls, of home demolitions and evictions, of blockades and military incursions?

It might well be said that there are four very different children deep inside each of us, each reacting in his or her own characteristic way. The Fearful Child is marked by the trauma of the Shoah and believes that to be a Jew means to be forever vulnerable. While he may be willing to accept that we live in an age of relative Jewish privilege and power, in his heart he feels that all of these freedoms could easily be taken away in the blink of an eye. To the Fearful Child, Israel represents Jewish empowerment – the only place in the world that can ensure the collective safety of the Jewish people.

The Bitter Child channels her Jewish fears into demonization of the other. This child chooses to view anti-Semitism as the most eternal and pernicious of all forms of hatred and considers all those “outside the tribe” to be real or potential enemies. She believes that Palestinians fundamentally despise Jews and will never tolerate their presence in the land – and that brute force is the only language they will ever understand.

The Silent Child is overwhelmed with the myriad of claims, histories, narratives and analyses that emerge from Israel/Palestine. While he dreams of a day in which both peoples will live in peace, he is unable to sift through all that he hears and determine how he might help bring that day about. At his most despairing moments, he doesn’t believe a just peace between these two peoples will ever be possible. And so he directs his Jewish conscience toward other causes and concerns – paralyzed by the “complexities” of this particular conflict.

The Courageous Child is willing to admit the painful truth that this historically persecuted people has now become a persecutor. This child understands and empathizes with the emotions of the other children all too well – in truth, she still experiences them from time to time. In the end, however, the Courageous Child refuses to live a life defined by immobilized by fear, bitterness or complacency. She understands it is her sacred duty to stand in solidarity with all who are oppressed, particularly when she herself is implicated in that oppression.

At one time or another we have heard within ourselves the voices of any or all of these children. How will we respond to them?

Commentary / Readings
Source : with Rabbi Matthew Soffer

The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:  


In any given year, about 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness, about a third of them children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed the majority of major cities lack the capacity to shelter those in need and are forced to turn people away. We are reminded time and again in the Torah that the Exodus is a story about a wandering people, once suffering from enslavement, who, through God’s help, eventually find their way to their homeland. As we inherit this story, we affirm our commitment to pursue an end to homelessness.


About 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, 16 million of them children. While living in a world blessed with more than enough food to ensure all of God’s children are well nourished, on Passover we declare, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” These are not empty words, but rather a heartfelt and age-old prayer to end the man-made plague of hunger.


Access to affordable housing, quality health care, nutritious food and quality education is far from equal. The disparity between the privileged and the poor is growing, with opportunities for upward mobility still gravely limited. Maimonides taught, “Everyone in the house of Israel is obligated to study Torah, regardless of whether one is rich or poor, physically able or with a physical disability.” Unequal access to basic human needs, based on one’s real or perceived identity, like race, gender or disability, is a plague, antithetical to the inclusive spirit of the Jewish tradition.


In the Talmud, the sage Ben Zoma asks: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with one’s lot.” These teachings evidence what we know in our conscience—a human propensity to desire more than we need, to want what is not ours and, at times, to allow this inclination to conquer us, leading to sin. Passover urges us against the plague of greed, toward an attitude of gratitude.

Discrimination and hatred

The Jewish people, as quintessential victims of hatred and discrimination, are especially sensitized to this plague in our own day and age. Today, half a century after the civil rights movement in the United States, we still are far from the actualization of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated in Washington, D.C., a vision rooted in the message of our prophets. On Passover, we affirm our own identity as the once oppressed, and we refuse to stand idly by amid the plagues of discrimination and hatred.

Silence amid violence

Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. Each year, more than 108,000 Americans are shot intentionally or unintentionally in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidental shootings and by police intervention. One in five children has seen someone get shot. We do not adequately address violence in our society, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, even though it happens every day within our own communities.

Environmental destruction

Humans actively destroy the environment through various forms of pollution, wastefulness, deforestation and widespread apathy toward improving our behaviors and detrimental civic policies. Rabbi Nachman of Brezlav taught, “If you believe you can destroy, you must believe you can repair.” Our precious world is in need of repair, now more than ever.

Stigma of mental illness

One in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. Even more alarming, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minority communities are the least likely to search for or have access to mental health resources. Social stigma toward those with mental illness is a widespread plague. Historically, people with mental health issues have suffered from severe discrimination and brutality, yet our society is increasingly equipped with the knowledge and resources to alleviate the plague of social stigma and offer critical support.

Ignoring refugees

We are living through the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust. On this day, we remember that “we were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and God liberated us for a reason: to love the stranger as ourselves. With the memory of generations upon generations of our ancestors living as refugees, we commit ourselves to safely and lovingly opening our hearts and our doors to all peace-loving refugees.


When faced with these modern plagues, how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change? How often do we find ourselves powerless to transform the world as it is into the world as we know it should be, overflowing with justice and peace?

Written in collaboration with Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston

Commentary / Readings
Source :

By Avigayil Halpern

Blood: Young girls tuck tampons quickly into backpacks, secret them in purses, hide them in Ugg boots. It’s not blue dye that the river is running with, and periods are more trouble than the pamphlet in that goody bag from middle-school health class would leave one to believe. “It’s beautiful to be female,” we’re told, but nobody accounts for cramps and cramps and cramps and bloodied sheets and cramps. We are under no obligation to love our bodies, to delight in the “privilege” of femaleness, not when we are compelled to hide it.

Frogs: They hear our voices blurred into the high-pitched hum of a summer night, ribbet ribbet,like, ribbet. We are alive, vibrant, excited, communicating. We speak fast, sentences overlapping, as the men across the Shabbat table snicker at our pace and our tone. If they listened, they would hear us speak of politics. If they listened to our chirping, they would hear us planning our way into every crevice of their world. We will fill it with our voices.

Lice: Squirming, fidgeting, wanting to crawl out of our skin. A teacher detains us in the hall to talk about our thighs – it’s supposed to be about the skirt, but the fabric that’s there isn’t the problem. The heels we wore to that interview hurt our nervous, trembling feet as we talk about our favorite books, our biggest challenges. We feel it, all over, all the time, itching in our souls as we adjust the tight-but-not-too-tight skirt.

Wild Animals: We clutch keys in our hand on the walk home, never feeling safe alone at night. Alone with a trusted male friend, the thought still occurs; after all, so many rapes are committed by those who are close. Who says we’ll be the one to avoid it? The numbers mean we’re never safe, always wondering, fearing we’ll be pounced on.

Cattle Pestilence: Herded into classrooms, desks in straight rows, filling out bubble after bubble with that pencil. We lose our humanity in ID numbers and testing tricks, cattle in high schools on Sunday morning. Do we need an extra calculator? How long is this section? Am I about to ruin my future? Phone rings, scores will be canceled. Don’t open the book until we’re told. d c a b a b b b b b b. Crap, that can’t be right.

Boils: Flawed, flawed skin. Primer, concealer, foundation, powder, contour, highlight. Remove with alcohol and oil. Exfoliate. Face wash. Moisturizer. How much does this cost? How much of this is toxic? We work to unlearn the idealization of perfect faces on glossy pages, and still cringe at the dark circles, the and that one zit near our nose. We fill landfills and souls with the garbage from our “beauty” routines, but we’re never satisfied, always something more we need to fix our “tainted” skin.

Hail: Fire and ice. Smart or likable. Hot or serious. Sexual or respectable. Mature or excited. Intellectual or fun. Strong or elegant. Choose.

Locusts: They descend on us, pick us bare, for the future of the Jewish people. We don’t align with denominations. We don’t look good in demographic surveys. We don’t care about continuity. We care about meaning, and that scares them. We do not exist to feed the future. We are not here to raise Jewish children. We are here to be Jews in our own right. Consume us, envelop us into your structure. There’ll be nothing left.

Darkness: We girls are still not welcomed into the halls of study, into the mazes of letters. We fight for the Talmud, and look blindly at the reading notation over and under the Torah text. We are left in the dark about how to sing those words, in the dark about the culture of Jews interpreting and creating our texts for thousands of years. We bring our flashlights, weaving our way through forms frozen, stagnated by the dark they themselves have created.

Death of the Firstborn: This is not our plague. We are not the firstborn. We are secondary, taken for granted, always in the ensemble but never given a starring role. We have been here for centuries, mothers and sisters and wives of the firstborn. We are the bat mitzvah girls given jewelry where our male friends got books. We are the teenagers given strange looks when we walk into the beit midrash and slide a volume of Talmud from the shelf. We are the stranger, higher voices singing the words of the Torah from the bima. We are reading it. It will be ours.

Commentary / Readings
Source : Adapted from,

Mitzrayim, the Hebrew word for Egypt, is also interpreted to mean “narrow places.” At Passover, we celebrate being released from the restrictions that limit us and make our lives smaller. We are not fully free as long as we are kept down by attitudes and conditions that are unjust.

Many Jews assume that “real Jews” look a certain way and have one path to Judaism — being born Jewish. When confronted with Jews who don’t fit these stereotypes, even well-meaning Jews may treat them as less Jewish. Jews of color and/or those who have converted to Judaism find that other Jews can act insensitively out of ignorance.

In the biblical book that bears her name, Ruth is a Moabite who marries an Israelite living in Moab. After her husband’s death, Ruth insists on accompanying her Israelite mother-in-law, Naomi, when she returns to Israel. There she cares for Naomi and ends up marrying one of her relatives. Because of Ruth’s declaration to Naomi: “Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16), she is considered the prototypical convert to Judaism. Ruth becomes the great-grandmother of King David, from whom our tradition says the Messiah will descend.

The following ritual—Ruth’s Cup—may be added after Elijah’s Cup or anywhere in the seder.

It honors not only those who have converted to Judaism, but the overall diversity of the Jewish people:


At Passover we fill a cup with wine for Elijah and open the door to welcome him to our seder. Elijah symbolizes our hope for the Messianic age, when the world will be perfected, and all people will live in harmony and peace.

We also fill a cup of wine for Ruth, the first Jew by choice and great-grandmother of King David. We open the door to signify our welcome of Ruth and all who follow in her footsteps—those who become part of our people, part of our diversity.

All rise, face the open door, and read together:

We declare that we do not have to wait for the Messianic age to make sure that every Jew feels fully comfortable and integrated into our people, no matter what their skin, hair or eye color is; no matter what their name sounds like; no matter how they became Jewish—through birth or through conversion, as a child or as an adult.

Close the door and be seated.

Commentary / Readings
Source : <a href="">Rabbi Geela Rayzel Raphael, Five Interfaith Passover Readings You Can Add to Your Haggadah</a>
Maror (bitter herbs, such as horseradish)--the symbol of bitterness and slavery of the Israelites in Egypt. Today, in a Jewish community that is free, this bitterness takes on another layer of meaning. We acknowledge that there are many among us who are embittered by their feelings of resentment, discomfort, and fear. We know that there is just cause for some of these feelings of fear, for Jews were "other" for so many centuries and mistreated just because they were different.

This laden history has often contributed to some of our families' inability to accept the idea of intermarriage. We acknowledge that Jewish people have struggled and been enslaved in the past and we stretch to transform this defeated posture. We also know that sometimes our own enslavement or emotional bondage prevents us from being open to hearing each other in our marriage. Loyalties to families of origin need to be honored, unless they prevent us from creating true intimacy. Bitter places are stuck places, and we commit ourselves tonight to moving beyond our own positions to find new points of intersection and connection.

Tonight we dip our bitterness in the sweetness of charoset. Charoset, the sweet mixture of fruits and nuts, symbolizes the mortar of the bricks of the Israelites. It is also the mortar of commitment and interdependence that enabled the Jewish community to survive through those centuries of oppression. It is the building blocks of hope and tradition, which are sweet. We take our maror of fear, and by dipping it into the sweetness we create a new model that honors the fear and suffering yet holds out hope for the future.

By blending our maror and charoset, we acknowledge the blending of faiths and traditions that sit around this table here tonight. We know it is not always sweet and it is not always bitter, but that life is a mixture of both. Just as our taste buds are designed for sweet, salty, sour and bitter, so we taste the range of textures of our relationships. By our dipping tonight we bring together the bitter and the sweet for something new to emerge.

Commentary / Readings
Source :

The Wicked Child

I read the haggadah backwards this year
The sea opens,
the ancient Israelites slide back to Egypt
like Michael Jackson doing the moonwalk

Freedom to slavery
That’s the real story
One minute you’re dancing hallelujah,
shaking your hips to the j-j-jangle of the prophetesses’ tambourines,
the next you’re knee deep in brown muck
in the basement of some minor pyramid

The angel of death comes back to life
two zuzim are refunded.
When armies emerge from the sea like a returning scuba expedition
the Pharoah calls out for the towel boy.
The bread has plenty of time to rise.

I read the hagaddah backwards this year,
left a future Jerusalem,
scrubbed off the bloody doorposts,
wandered back to Aram.

Commentary / Readings

The heart of the Passover Seder tells the story of the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. During the retelling of this story, we say the words, “ (Arami oved avi).” This phrase is sometimes translated as “My father was a wandering Aramean” and other times as “An Aramean sought to destroy my father.” Somewhere between the two translations lies the essence of the Jewish experience: a rootless people who have ed persecution time and time again.

Soon we will recite the words “Arami oved avi” as we retell the story of our people’s exodus from Egypt. These words acknowledge that we have stood in the shoes of the refugee. Today, as we celebrate our freedom, we commit ourselves to continuing to stand with contemporary refugees. In honor of this commitment and against the backdrop of terrible restrictions on refugees, we place a pair of shoes on the doorstep of our home to acknowledge that none of us is free until all of us are free and to pledge to stand in support of welcoming those who do not yet have a place to call home.