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Kiddush (the blessing over wine) | kadeish | קַדֵּשׁ
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
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 first glass of wine!
Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the seder | urchatz | וּרְחַץ
OThis is a moment to cleanse and refresh, so that we can begin the seder intentionally.
Pause, take a deep breath, and center yourself in this present moment.
Before you wash your hands, reflect on whatever may be distracting you and keeping you from being fully present.
As you wash your hands, imagine washing away that distraction, leaving your mind clear to engage fully in tonight's ritual.
Dipping a green vegetable in salt water | karpas | כַּרְפַּס
Passover combines the celebration of the journey toward libeartion with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we reflect on the process of liberation, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.
We now take parsley, representing our joy at the dawning of spring, and dip it into salt water, a symbol of the sweat we exude during the process of self-liberation.
Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.
Breaking the middle matzah | yachatz | יַחַץ
There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The larger of the pieces, the afikomen, will be our dessert.
Matzah represents our constricted, limited view of what is possible for ourselves and our communities. Afraid, oppressed, desperate, we run away from the forces that seem too powerful to confront. Doubting whether full liberation is possible, we grasp at what crumbs we can get and call it a meal.
Uncover and hold up the three pieces of matzah and say:
Tonight, let us bless our cracked surfaces and sharp edges, unafraid to see our brittleness and brave enough to see our beauty. Reaching for wholeness, let us piece together the parts of ourselves we have found, and hnor all that is still hidden.
Telling the story of liberation | maggid |מַגִּיד
Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.
We now enter the heart of the Seder as we reflect and share our personal stories of liberation. As you fill your glass again, take a moment to silently give thanks for whatever personal liberation or freedom from oppression you've experienced this year.
By starting the seder with a set of questions, we are creating a lens through which to think about the Passover theme of liberation. This Seder focuses on our personal journeys from slavery to liberation, and so we begin with four questions to consider as we travel on our paths toward freedom. These four questions do not have simple or universal answers, as we recognize that the act of questioning is itself a sign of freedom and a key step in the process of liberating ourselves from our own oppressions.
Think of a situation that feels constricting, that feels like a "narrow place" in your life and consider the following:
1. How do I feel limited by external forces?
2. What are my rights?
3. How can I take a stand for myself?
4. In what ways am I co-creating a community that's liberatory?
These questions are meant to be pondered tonight and throughout the year ahead. Take a moment to sit quietly with these questions. After reflecting, feel free to share your thoughts with the group.
Expressing our anger, releasing our anger, knowing and claiming our anger is an important step in the process of liberation, but hatred and violence can never overcome hatred and violence. Only love and compassion can transform our world.
My Ashamed Self – I’m so ashamed of what people are doing that I have no way of dealing with it!
We acknowledge our feelings of guilt, shame and disappointment in order to not be paralyzed by these strong emotions. We transmute these forces, using the fire of injustice to fuel us in working for change. We also remember and celebrate the amazing, ordinary people around the world who are working to dismantle oppression together everyday.
My Fearful Self – Why should I care about other people when they don’t care about me? If I share what I have, there won’t be enough and I will end up suffering.
We must challenge the sense of scarcity that we have learned from capitalism and our histories of oppression. If we change the way food, housing, education, and resources are distributed, we could all have enough.
Martin Luther King said: It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
My Compassionate Self – How can I struggle for justice with an open heart? How can we live in a way that builds the world we want to live in, without losing hope?
This is the question that we answer with our lives. Compassion is the foundation upon which we can build loving communities, dedicated to the lifelong journey toward liberation. We are all blind and constricted in certain areas, and we are all wise and liberated in others. Compassion allows us to forgive ourselves and each other for our imperfections, and to release the judgments that keep us from fully experiencing love.
Each of us contains the angry one, the ashamed one, the frightened one, the compassionate one. When we can acknowledge all four of them, we are able to stay on the long and winding path toward personal liberation.
Please take a minute to silently reflect on a personal experience of the journey toward liberation.
We will then open up the space to anyone who may wish to share something.
The plagues represent moments of hardship in our journey toward freedom, struggles with the power structures that constrict us. Tonight we will reflect on our personal plagues, ways in which we have tried to assert our own power by recreating strategies of control and domination that we have suffered from in an unjust world.
Where have we tried to turn hierarchy upside down rather than co-creating a world of equality and liberation for all? Where have we been stuck in fear and defensiveness rather than finding the strength to be vulnerable and ask gently for what we need?
Take a moment for quiet reflection. We will then symbolically remove ten drops of wine from our glasses to acknowledge the pain that has accompanied our journeys toward liberation. As you take ten drops out of your glass feel free to say a personal plague out loud, or to think about these plagues silently.
The blessing over the meal and matzah | motzi matzah | מוֹצִיא מַצָּה
We are now ready to eat...matzah
בְָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.
Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror |מָרוֹר
We recognize that even though we are so grateful for our journeys toward liberation, and that we experience so much joy through the process of freeing ourselves, there are also many parts of the journey that are difficult and unpleasant.
We acknowledge the mixture of pleasant and unpleasant experiences by mixing bitter and sweet flavors as we eat the maror with charoset.
ברוּךְ אַתָּה יְיַָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מרוֹר:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat maror.