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Introduction
Introduction
Source : InterfaithFamily.com
Dispelling the Urban Myth of the Orange on the Seder Plate

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.

Introduction
Order

ַק ֵדּשׁ| Kiddush (the blessing over wine) | kadeish Киддуш благословение на вино

וּ ְר ַחץ| Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the Seder | urchatz Ритуальное омовение рук в процессе подготовки к Седеру

ַכּ ְר ַפּס| Dipping a green vegetable in salt water| karpas Обмакивание зелени в солёную воду

ַי ַחץ| Breaking the middle matzah | yachatz Разламывание средней части две на мацы

ַמ ִגּיד| Telling the story of Passover | magid Чтение Агады, сказания об Исходе

ר ְח ָצה| Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the meal | rachtza Ритуальное омовение рук в процессе подготовки к трапезе

מֹוִציא ַמָצּה|Theblessingoverthemealandmatzah| motzimatzah Благословение на еду и мацу

ָמר ֹור| Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror Обмакивание горькой зелени в сладкий харосет

כּ ֹו ֵר| Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich Употребление в пищу мацы и горькой зелени

ֻשׁ ְל ָחן ע ֹו ֵר| Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich Праздничная трапеза!

ָצפוּן| Finding and eating the afikoman | tzafoon Поиск и употребление в пищу афикомана

ָבּ ֵרָ ֵר | Saying grace and inviting Elijah the Prophet | bareich Произнесение хвалебной молитвы и приглашение пророка Элиягу

ַה ֵלּל| Singing songs that praise God | hallel Пение песен, прославляющих Б-га

נ ְר ָצה| Ending the Seder and thinking about the future | nirtzah Завершение Седера и обдумывание будущего.

Introduction

Kadesh — Blessing the wine / grape juice

U’Rechatz — Washing hands

Karpas — Eating a vegetable dipped in salt-water

Yachatz — Breaking the middle matzah

Maggid — Reciting the Haggadah

Rachtzah — Washing the hands with a blessing

Motzi Matzah — Eating matzah

Maror — Eating the bitter herbs

Korech — Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herbs

Shulchan Orech — Eating the festive meal

Tzafun — Eating the afikomen

Beirach — Blessings after the meal

Hallel — Songs of Praise

Nirtzah — Closing the Meal

Introduction
Seder Plate

We begin by explaining each of the objects in front of us.

ROASTED SHANKBONE (Dinosaur)
One of the most striking symbols of Passover is the roasted lamb shankbone, which commemorates the lamb sacrifice made the night the ancient Hebrews fled Egypt.  Note: a dinosaur is used here because we most often interact with dinosaurs through their bones.

MAROR (BITTER HERB)
Horseradish bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. The Seder refers to the slavery in Egypt, but we are called to look at our own bitter enslavements.

CHAROSET
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
Karpas is a green vegetable, usually parsley. Karpas symbolizes the freshness of spring.

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

ORANGE
The tradition of putting an orange on the seder plate in is a response to a myth about rabbi who told a young girl that a woman belongs on a bimah (where the torah is read) as much as an orange on a Seder plate. The orange is now said to be a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, whatever their sexuality or gender identity.

EGG
The egg 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.

MATZAH
Matzah is the unleavened bread we eat to remember that when the jews fled Egypt, they didn’t even have time to let the dough rise on their bread. We commemorate this by removing all bread and bread products from our home during Passover.

ELIJAH'S CUP
The fifth ceremonial cup of wine poured during the Seder. It is left untouched in honor of Elijah, who, according to tradition, will arrive one day as an unknown guest to herald the advent of the Messiah. In this way the Seder dinner not only commemorates the historical redemption from Egyptian bondage of the Jewish people but reminds us of the future.

MIRIAM'S CUP
Another relatively new Passover tradition is that of Miriam’s cup. The cup is filled with water and placed next to Elijah’s cup. Miriam was a prophetess and also the sister of Moses. After the exodus when the Israelites are wandering through the desert, just as Hashem gave them Manna to eat, legend says that a well of water followed Miriam and it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’. The tradition of Miriam’s cup is meant to honor Miriam’s role in the story of the Jewish people and the spirit of all women, who nurture their communities just as Miriam helped sustain the Israelites.

Kadesh
Source : Traditional Haggadah Text

The blessings below are for a weeknight. (On Shabbat we add the words in parentheses)

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאַָם. וַיְכַל אֱלֹקִים בַּיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אוֹתוֹ כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בֶָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת

(Vay'hi erev vay'hi voker yom hashi-shi. Vay'chulu hashamayim v'ha-aretz v’choltzva’am. Vay’chal Elohim bayom hashvi’i, m'lachto asher asah, vayishbot bayom hashvi-i, mikol-mlachto asher asah. Vay'vareich Elohim, et-yom hashvi’i, vay'kadeish oto, ki vo shavat mikol-mlachto, asher-bara Elohim la-asot.)

(“And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Now the heavens and all their host were completed. And on the seventh day God finished His work of creation which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on that day God rested from His work and ceased creating.)

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, borei p'ri hagafen.

Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר בָּחַר בָּנוּ מִכָּל עָם וְרוֹמְמָנוּ מִכָּל לָשׁוֹן וְקִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו. וַתִּתֶּן לָנוּ יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּאַהֲבָה (שַׁבָּתוֹת לִמְנוּחָה וּ) מוֹעֲדִים לְשִׂמְחָה, חַגִּים וּזְמַנִּים לְשָׂשׂוֹן, אֶת יוֹם (הַשַׁבָּת הַזֶה וְאֶת יוֹם) חַג הַמַצוֹת הַזֶה, זְמַן חֵרוּתֵנוּ (בְּאַהֲבָה), מִקְרָא קֹדֶשׁ, זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם. כִּי בָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ וְאוֹתָנוּ קִדַּשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים, (וְשַׁבָּת) וּמוֹעֲדֵי קָדְשֶךָ (בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן,) בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְשָׂשׂוֹן הִנְחַלְתָּנוּ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי, מְקַדֵּשׁ (הַשַׁבָּת וְ) יִשְׂרָאֵל וְהַזְּמַנִּים.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher bachar banu mikol’am, v'rom'manu mikol-lashon, v'kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, vatiten-lanu Adonai Eloheinu b'ahavah (shabatot limnuchah u) moadim l'simchah, chagim uz'manim l'sason et-yom (hashabat hazeh v'et-yom) chag hamatzot hazeh. Z'man cheiruteinu, (b'ahavah,) mikra kodesh, zeicher litziat mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v'otanu kidashta mikol ha’amim. (v'shabat) umo’adei kod’shecha (b'ahavah uv'ratzon) b'simchah uv'sason hinchaltanu. Baruch atah Adonai, m'kadeish (h’shabbat v') Yisrael v'hazmanim.

Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has chosen us from among all people, and languages, and made us holy through Your mitzvot, giving us lovingly [Shabbat for rest] festivals for joy, and special times for celebration, this [Shabbat and this] Passover, this [given in love] this sacred gathering to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us, You have shared Your holiness with us among all other peoples. For with [Shabbat and] festive revelations of Your holiness, happiness and joy You have granted us [lovingly] joyfully the holidays. Praised are you, Adonai, Who sanctifies [Shabbat], Israel and the festivals.

On Saturday night include the following section:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם הַמַבְדִיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחֹל, ין אוֹר לְחשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בֵּין קְדֻשַּׁת שַׁבָּת לִקְדֻשַּׁת יוֹם טוֹב הִבְדַּלְתָּ, וְאֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִשֵּׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה קִדַּשְׁתָּ. הִבְדַּלְתָּ וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ אֶת עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּקְדֻשָּׁתֶךָ. ,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְקֹדֶשׁ

( Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei m'orei ha-eish.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol bein or l'choshech, bein Yisrael la-amim, bein yom hashvi-i l'sheishet y'mei hama-aseh. Bein k'dushat shabat likdushat yom tov hivdalta. V'et-yom hashvi-i misheishet y'mei hama-aseh kidashta. Hivdalta v'kidashta et-am'cha yisra-eil bikdushatecha. Baruch atah Adonai, hamavdil bein kodesh l'kodesh.)

(Praised are You Adonai our God Lord of the universe who created the lights of fire.

Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes a distinction between the holy and profane, light and darkness, Israel and the nations, Shabbat and the six workdays. You have made a distinction between the holiness of Shabbat and the holiness of the festival, and You have sanctified Shabbat above the six work-days. You have set apart and made holy Your people Israel with your holiness. Praised are you, Adonai, who distinguishes between degrees of sanctity.)

Say this Shehechiyanu blessing the first Seder night only:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶה

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam,
she’hecheyanu v'ki'manu v'higi-anu laz'man hazeh.

Praised are you, Adonai, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe,
who has sustained us, maintained us and enabled us to reach this moment in life.

Urchatz
Source : www.trishaarlin.com

As we wash our hands
We pray,
Blessed is the Soul of the Universe,
Breathing us in and breathing us out.
May our breaths continue
And our health and the health of all
Be preserved
In this time of sickness and fear of sickness.
Holy Wholeness,
We take as much responsibility for this as we can
By observing the obligation to wash our hands
Thoroughly:
For as long as it takes to say this prayer.
Amen

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה הָ׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם

-- Four Questions
Source : JewishBoston.com

The formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The tradition that the youngest person asks the questions reflects the centrality of involving everyone in the seder. The rabbis who created the set format for the seder gave us the Four Questions to help break the ice in case no one had their own questions. Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life. If everyone at your seder is around the same age, perhaps the person with the least seder experience can ask them – or everyone can sing them all together.

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה  

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin chameitz u-matzah. Halaila hazeh kulo matzah.

On all other nights we eat both leavened bread and matzah.
Tonight we only eat matzah.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin shi’ar yirakot haleila hazeh maror.

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables,
but tonight we eat bitter herbs.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אֵין אָֽנוּ מַטְבִּילִין אֲפִילוּ פַּֽעַם אחָת  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה שְׁתֵּי פְעמים

Shebichol haleilot ain anu matbilin afilu pa-am echat. Halaila hazeh shtei fi-amim.

On all other nights we aren’t expected to dip our vegetables one time.
Tonight we do it twice.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין וּבֵין מְסֻבִּין.  :הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלָּֽנוּ מְסֻבין

Shebichol haleilot anu ochlin bein yoshvin uvein m’subin. Halaila hazeh kulanu m’subin.

On all other nights we eat either sitting normally or reclining.
Tonight we recline.

-- Four Children
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

As we tell the story, we think about it from all angles. Our tradition speaks of four different types of children who might react differently to the Passover seder. It is our job to make our story accessible to all the members of our community, so we think about how we might best reach each type of child:

What does the wise child say?

The wise child asks, What are the testimonies and laws which God commanded you?

You must teach this child the rules of observing the holiday of Passover.

What does the wicked child say?

The wicked child asks, What does this service mean to you?

To you and not to himself! Because he takes himself out of the community and misses the point, set this child’s teeth on edge and say to him: “It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.” Me, not him. Had that child been there, he would have been left behind.

What does the simple child say?

The simple child asks, What is this?

To this child, answer plainly: “With a strong hand God took us out of Egypt, where we were slaves.”

What about the child who doesn’t know how to ask a question?

Help this child ask.

Start telling the story:

“It is because of what God did for me in taking me out of Egypt.”

-

Do you see yourself in any of these children? At times we all approach different situations like each of these children. How do we relate to each of them?

-- Exodus Story
Source : http://blog.ninapaley.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/MosesHebrewsThirst.png
Moses See the Hebrews

-- Exodus Story
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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 God, 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.

God 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 God saves us from those who seek to harm us.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years our ancestors lived 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 enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, 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 God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention. 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of God. 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 God 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. Could we be making the same mistakes? Make up your own list. What are the plagues in your life? What are the plagues in our world today? What behaviors do we need to change to fix them? 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : JewishBoston.com 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”:  

Homelessness

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.

Hunger

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.

Inequality

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.

Greed

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.

Powerlessness

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

-- Ten Plagues
Every year we sit down for the Passover seder to commemorate our Exodus from Egypt. While we were fortunate to have this opportunity, even if it was after many years, there are still those in the world that have not yet had their exodus from oppression. Many people are underpaid and work under inhumane conditions. As we sit here tonight, let us reflect on how we may provide those in need with their exodus, just as God did when we were slaves in Egypt.
-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

As all good term papers do, we start with the main idea:

ּעֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ הָיִינו. עַתָּה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין  

Avadim hayinu hayinu. Ata b’nei chorin.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. Now we are free.

We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and God took us from there with a strong hand and outstretched arm. Had God not brought our ancestors out of Egypt, then even today we and our children and our grandchildren would still be slaves. Even if we were all wise, knowledgeable scholars and Torah experts, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the exodus from Egypt.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Debbie Friedman

Miriam's Song

Chorus

And the women dancing with their timbrels
Followed Miriam as she sang her song
Sing a song to the One whom we've exalted
Miriam and the women danced and danced the whole night long

And Miriam was a weaver of unique variety
The tapestry she wove was one which sang our history

With every strand and every thread she crafted her delight
A woman touched with spirit, she dances toward the light

Chorus

When Miriam stood upon the shores and gazed across the sea
The wonder of this miracle she soon came to believe
Whoever thought the sea would part with an outstretched hand
And we would pass to freedom and march to the promised land

Chorus

And Miriam the prophet took her timbrel in her hand
And all the women followed her just as she had planned
And Miriam raised her voice in song
She sang with praise and might
We've just lived through a miracle 
We're going to dance tonight

Songwriters: Debbie Friedman

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

The plagues and our subsequent redemption from Egypt are but one example of the care God has shown for us in our history. Had God but done any one of these kindnesses, it would have been enough – dayeinu.

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu hotzi- hotzianu, Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim Hotzianu mi-mitzrayim, Dayeinu

If God had only taken us out of Egypt, that would have been enough!

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה, דַּיֵּנוּ

Ilu natan natan lanu, natan lanu et ha-Torah, Natan lanu et ha-Torah , Dayeinu

If God had only given us the Torah, that would have been enough.

 The complete lyrics to Dayeinu tell the entire story of the Exodus from Egypt as a series of miracles God performed for us. (See the Additional Readings if you want to read or sing them all.)

Dayeinu also reminds us that each of our lives is the cumulative result of many blessings, small and large. 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

We have now told the story of Passover…but wait! We’re not quite done. There are still some symbols on our seder plate we haven’t talked about yet. Rabban Gamliel would say that whoever didn’t explain the shank bone, matzah, and marror (or bitter herbs) hasn’t done Passover justice.

The shank bone represents the Pesach, the special lamb sacrifice made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. It is called the pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God passed over the houses of our ancestors in Egypt when visiting plagues upon our oppressors.

The matzah reminds us that when our ancestors were finally free to leave Egypt, there was no time to pack or prepare. Our ancestors grabbed whatever dough was made and set out on their journey, letting their dough bake into matzah as they fled.

The bitter herbs provide a visceral reminder of the bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors experienced in Egypt.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Traditional

מַה לְּךָ הַיָּם
כִּי תָנוּס 
הַיַּרְדֵּן
תִּסֹּב לְאָחוֹר

Mah l'kha hayam
ki tanus, 
hayardeyn
tisov l'akhor. 

What's up with you, mountains,
that you flee,
Or the Jordan,
that you turn backwards?

הֶהָרִים
תִּרְקְדוּ כְאֵילִים 
גְּבָעוֹת
כִּבְנֵי צֹאן
 

Heharim
tirk'du kh'eylim, 
g'vaot
kivney tzon.

The mountains,
that you dance like rams'
Or the hills,
like young sheep?

 מִלִּפְנֵי אָדוֹן
חוּלִי אָרֶץ 
מִלִּפְנֵי
אֱלוֹהַּ יַעֲקֹב

Milifnei adon
khuli aretz, 
Milifnei
eloah ya'akov.

In the presence of God
the land trembles,
In the presence of
the God of Jacob
 

הַהֹפְכִי הַצּוּר
אֲגַם מָיִם
חַלָּמִישׁ
לְמַעְיְנוֹ מָיִם

Hahofkhi hatzur
agam mayim, 
Khalamish
l'mayno mayim.

Who turned the rock
into a pool of waters,
The flint
into a fountain of waters.

Hallel

הוֹדוּ לַיי כִּי טוֹב, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.

יֹאמַר נָא יִשְׂרָאֵל, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.

יֹאמְרוּ נָא בֵית אַהֲרֹן, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.

יֹאמְרוּ נָא יִרְאֵי יי, כִּי לְעוֹלָם חַסְדּוֹ.

Hodu l'Adonai ki tov, ki l'olam chasdo.

Yomar na yisra-eil, ki l'olam chasdo.

Yomru na veit aharon, ki l'olam chasdo.

Yomru na yirei Adonai, ki l'olam chasdo.

Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good; His kindness endures forever.
Let Israel declare, His kindness endures forever.’
Let the house of Aaron declare His kindness endures forever’. 
Let those who fear the Lord say ‘His kindness endures forever.’

Nirtzah
Source : ha-mashiach.com

The Passover Seder is now complete. It is our hope that one day soon we will enjoy fellowship together with the Messiah himself in his coming kingdom. We will spend the rest of the evening singing beautiful seder songs and enjoying one another’s company. Then when we are ready to depart, we say to one another: “May the Eternal One, the Almighty of Israel bless you, keep you, and shine His face upon you.” Amen.

We put down our Haggadahs and all shout out:

“Leshanah haba’ah bi-yerushalayim! Next year in Jerusalem!”

Sing:

L’shana haba’ah bi-Yerushalayim x4

Hallelyuah!

La la lala la la…

Songs

Chad Gadya

  
חד גדיא

 

Chad gadya, chad gadya 
Dezabin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata shunra viachla legadya, dizabin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Vi'ata chalba vinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizabin aba, bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata chutra vihica licalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizabin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata nura visaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizavin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata maya vichaba linura, disaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizabin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata tora vishata limaya, dichaba linura, disaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizabin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata hashochet vishachat litora, dishata limaya, dichaba linura, disaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizavin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata malach hamavet vishachat lishochet, dishachat litora, dishata limaya, dichaba linura, disaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizavin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya. 

Viata hakodoshe baruch hu, vishachat limalach hamavet, dishachat lishochet, dishachat litora, dishata limaya, dichaba linura, disaraf lichutra, dihica lichalba, dinashach lishunra, diachla ligadya, dizavin aba bitrei zuzei, chad gadya, chad gadya.

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא
דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא שׁוּנְרָא וְאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא כַלְבָּא וְנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא חוּטְרָא והִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא נוּרָא וְשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא מַיָא וְכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא תוֹרָא וְשָׁתָה לְמַיָא, דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

וְאָתָא הַשׁוֹחֵט וְשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא, דְּשָּׁתָה לְמַיָא, דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא. 

וְאָתָא מַלְאָךְ הַמָּוֶת וְשָׁחַט לְשׁוֹחֵט, דְּשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא, דְּשָּׁתָה לְמַיָא, דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא. 

וְאָתָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְשָׁחַט לְמַלְאַךְ הַמָּוֶת, דְּשָׁחַט לְשׁוֹחֵט, דְּשָׁחַט לְתוֹרָא, דְּשָּׁתָה לְמַיָא, דְּכָבָה לְנוּרָא, דְּשָׂרַף לְחוּטְרָא, דְּהִכָּה לְכַלְבָּא, דְּנָשַׁךְ לְשׁוּנְרָא, דְּאַָכְלָה לְגַדְיָא, 
דְּזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי, חַד גַּדְיָא,חַד גַּדְיָא.

 

Translation:

One little goat, one little goat that my father bought for two zuzim. 
A cat came and ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
A dog came and bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
A stick came and hit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
A fire came and burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
Water​ came and put out the fire that burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
An ox came and drank the water that put out the fire that burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
A butcher came and slaughter​​​​​​ed the ox that drank the water that put out the fire that burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
The angel of death came and slaughter​​​​​​ed the butcher who slaughter​​​​​​ed the ox that drank the water that put out the fire that burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 
Then the Holy One, Blessed be He, came and slaughter​​​​​​ed the angel of death who slaughter​​​​​​ed the butcher who slaughter​​​​​​ed the ox that drank the water that put out the fire that burned the stick that bit the dog that bit the cat that ate the goat that my father bought for two zuzim. One little goat, one little goat. 

Trans​lation by Eve Levavi.

Songs

Redemption Song

By Bob Marley

Old pirates, yes, they rob I
Sold I to the merchant ships
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit
But my hand was made strong
By the hand of the Almighty
We forward in this generation
Triumphantly
Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them can stop the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look? Ooh
Some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the Book

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have
Redemption songs
Redemption songs
Redemption songs

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy
'Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time
How long shall they kill our prophets
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it's just a part of it
We've got to fulfill the book
Won't you have to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever had
Redemption songs
All I ever had
Redemption songs
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom

Songs

To the tune of “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift:

I stay up too late
Got 4 cups on my brain
That’s what people say, nuu-nuuu
That’s what people say, nuu-nuuu

I go on too many rants
But I can’t make any sense
At least that’s what people say, nuu nuuu
That’s what people say, nuu nuuu

But I keep leaning
Can’t stop, won’t stop eating
It’s like I got this freedom
In my mind
Singing, “Dayenu all night.”

‘Cause the seder’s on a plate, plate, plate, plate, plate
Mitzrim gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Marror, just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, Shake Marror off

Afikomen gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the matzahs gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake
Marror just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake marror off, I shake it off

I never miss a step
Leaving Egypt was a Shlep
And that’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm
That’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm

I’m kiddushing on my own (kiddushing on my own)
I make the rules up as I go (rules up as I go)
And that’s what they don’t know, oy vey
That’s what they don’t know,oy vey

But I keep Leaning
Can’t stop, won’t stop dipping
It’s like I got this freedom
In my mind
Singing, “Dayenu, all night.”
‘Cause the seder’s on a plate, plate, plate, plate, plate
Mitzrim gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Marror, just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake Marror off (Oy, Oy)
Afikomen gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the matzahs gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake
Marror just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake marror off, I shake Marror off
Shake Marror off, I shake it off, (marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,(marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,(marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off(marror)

Hey, hey, hey
Just think while you’ve been leaning down and out about the Pharoah and the dirty, dirty plagues of the world,
You could’ve been getting down to this sick vort.

My afikoman lost by my new girlfriend
She’s like “Oh, my god!” but I’m just gonna break.
And to the fella over there with the Elijah good hair
Won’t you lean on over, baby? We can shake, shake, shake

Yeah ohhh

‘Cause the seder’s on a plate, plate, plate, plate, plate
Mitzrim gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Marror, just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off (Oy, Oy)
Afikomen gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the matzahs gonna bake, bake, bake, bake, bake
Marror just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake marror off, I shake it off (marror)

Shake Marror off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off, (marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off, (marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off (marror)

Shake Marror off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,(marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off,(marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off(marror)

Shake Marror off, I shake it off,
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off (you’ve got to),
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off, (marror)
I, I, I shake it off, I shake it off(marror)

- See more at: http://www.bangitout.com/seder-songs-2015-shake-marror-off/#sthash.rN7RGqnI.dpuf

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