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On this night we retrace our steps from then to now, reclaiming years of desert wandering.
On this night we ask questions, ancient and new, speaking of servitude and liberation, service and joy.
On this night we welcome each soul, sharing stories of courage, strength, and faith.
On this night we open doors long closed, lifting our voices in songs of praise.
On this night we renew ancient hopes and dream of a future redeemed.
On this night we gather around Seder tables remembering our passage from bondage to freedom.
On this night we journey from now to then, telling the story of our people’s birth.
We are here to celebrate, once again, the very first festival the Jewish People ever observed. The first Pesach took place in Egypt thousands of years ago. Many Jews consider Pesach the most beautiful of all our holiday; and love it in a special way, and have wonderful Pesach memories.
When we think of Pesach, we think of the warmth and joy of the Seder. The Seder brings together families and friends who eat and drink together, sing and pray together, and recite together the old (yet always new) story of the Exodus from Egyptian slavery.
Each Seder participant has a copy of the Haggadah. "Haggadah" means "to tell" -- and the purpose of the Seder is to TELL the dramatic and exciting events that Pesach recalls. It's a story of freedom and peace.
When we join in reading the Haggadah, we fulfill the Mitzvah, the duty, which the Torah commanded long ago; "You shall tell the Pesach story to your children in the days to come."
We have come together to celebrate the oldest holiday on the Jewish calendar. During this Seder service, we shall recall and retell the thrilling story of our ancestors going out from slavery to freedom.
As we remember this moving chapter in our people's past, may we learn to appreciate more deeply the freedom we enjoy. May we also learn to care about all those who are not yet free. May we join in working for the day when all people everywhere shall be free from tyranny, from poverty, and from war.
In gratitude to God, who wants all people to be free, and who has put the love of freedom in our hearts, we rise to recite the Kiddush over the first of the four cups of wine.
Before page 9, fill Miriam's cup and read:
We are about to read the 4 questions and then begin the re-telling of the story of our exodus from Egypt. Let's pause for a moment to consider the unsung heroes of the Passover story. Listen for them as we recall our time in Egypt and how we came to be free. Rarely will you hear these women mentioned by name but we all know that without them, we may not be sitting here as free people enjoying our Seder.
Shifra and Puah were the two midwives and respected members of their community. Despite the risk of punishment, they defied the Pharaoh's orders and continued to deliver baby boys for Jewish women in Egypt.
Yocheved went into labor early but was able to keep Moses' birth a secret from the Egyptians. She then made the ultimate mother's sacrifice by sending him down the river--her only hope in saving him from otherwise certain death.
Batya was the Pharaoh's daughter who found Moses in the reeds of the Nile and decided to raise him as her own, knowingly going against her father's decree to kill all male Jewish babies. We are indebted to her for her defiance and bravery.
Miriam is one who ensured Moses was safe during his journey down the Nile River. She brought Yocheved as a nursemaid to Batya, ensuring that mother and son were never far apart. Miriam is most notably recalled for her strength and song when the Jews finally leave Egypt.
All of the women read together: This is the Cup of Miriam, to symbolize the water which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness. Blessed are You who sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place.
There is a set order for all that we do at the Seder.
There are also special Seder foods, each of which reminds us of some part of the Pesach story.
At the center of our table is the main Seder Plate, with the following:
Z'roa: a roasted bone. This reminds us of the special lamb which was offered on Pesach in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.
Baytza: a roasted egg. In ancient times, on each of the three pilgrimage festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot) a sacrifice was offered in the Temple. The roasted egg reminds us of that Festival offering.
Maror: bitter herbs. Maror is a reminder of the bitterness and the hardship suffered by our people as slaves in Egypt.
Charoset: This serves to remind us of the clay and mortar used by the Israelites when they made bricks for the pyramids and other buildings that they built for Pharaoh.
Karpas: a green vegetable. Karpas is a reminder of springtime, the season of Pesach when nature blooms again after winter and awakens our hope.
Top of page 36:
Legend tells us that on Pesach Elijah appears at every Seder and sips a little wine from "his" cup. But before we welcome Elijah into our home, we must fill his cup with wine so he will have something to sip.
Let's each pour a little wine from our own glass into Elijah's cup until it is filled. This helps us remember that we must all contribute our best talents and energies to help fulfill Elijah's promise of a peaceful world. Elijah dedicated himself to defending God against non-believers, and as a reward for his devotion and hard work, he was whisked away to heaven at the end of his life, but before he actually died. Tradition says that Elijah will return to earth one day to signal the arrival of the Messiah, and the end of hatred, intolerance, and war.
They marched us down the length of Pozohony Street, toward the Margaret Bridge and that was when we understood they were bringing us to the edge of the Danube, where they would shoot us and leave us to die under the ice. When we arrived at the foot of the bridge, a Soviet reconnaissance aircraft appeared out of nowhere over our heads. The death march stopped, and there was a moment of chaos while the Nazi guards sought refuge in the entrance to buildings and shot their sub machine guns skyward. Mother and I were standing next to a small public toilet of metal and painted green and mother pushed me inside. ‘Pretend you’re peeing’ she said. I stood there frozen with cold and fear, but I could not pee; when you are thirteen years old and frightened you cannot pee. The Soviet plane had meanwhile disappeared and the march resumed. Not a soul noticed that mother and I had remained in the toilet. Half an hour later, not a single person from the march was left alive. This was a key moment in my life, the moment that defines me more accurately than any other – more than anything I ever did, more than any place I ever visited, more than any person I have ever met. Not because I was spared – every survivor has his own story or a private miracle – but because I had nowhere to go….in this big wide world there was not a single place for a Jewish boy of thirteen whom everyone wants to kill.
So we went back to the ghetto. Years later on a trip I took to Budapest with my son Yair, we took a walk and found ourselves, without planning to, at the Margaret Bridge. We strolled along, chatting merrily when suddenly I stopped and, shaking, pointed at something ahead of us. At first Yair could not understand what it was that I was pointing at, but there it was: the public toilet made of metal and painted green. We stood there, two grown men, hugging and crying and stroking the green walls of the public toilet that saved my life, while the Hungarians who passed us on the street did so with caution, convinced they were looking at two lunatics. ‘My boy,’ I said once I was calm enough to speak, ‘it was in this place, without my even knowing it that I became a Zionist. It is the whole Zionist idea in fact, The State of Israel is a problematic place, and we’ll always have our arguments with it, but this is the very reason it was established. So that every Jewish child will always have a place to go.’ I hope that Yair understood. I am certain that he did not forget.
- YAIR LAPID, MEMORIES AFTER MY DEATH
Before we drink from the fourth cup of wine, let us recall why we drink four cups of wine at the Seder.
According to the Torah, God sent Moses to the Israelites in Egypt, instructing him to tell them that God had seen their misery, and had heard their cries, and was ready to bring them out of slavery.
God's promise was put in FOUR different ways:
1. "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."
2. "I will deliver you from their bondage."
3. " I will redeem you with an outstretched arm..."
4. "I will take you to be My people."
These four promises are celebrated with four cups of wine.
[In that same passage in the Torah, there is a fifth promise, which was fulfilled several decades ago: "I will bring you back--to the land of your ancestors."]
Kol od ba’le’vav p’nima,Nefesh yehudi ho’miyah.
U’lefa-atei mizrach kadimah,
Ayin le’Tziyyon tzofiyah.
Od lo avda tikva-teinu,
Ha’tikvah bat sh’not al-payim
Lih-yot am chofshi b’ar-tzeinu
Eretz Tziyyon v’Yerushalayim.
As long as within our hearts
The Jewish soul sings,
As long as forward to the East
To Zion, looks the eye –
Our hope is not yet lost,
It is two thousand years old,
To be a free people in our land
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
4000 Years ago - Abraham - Town of Ur in Chaldea - Babylon - Now Iraq, Abraham migrated to the land of Canaan, newar the Dead Sea, now Israel. He had a son, Isaac, who had sons Esau and Jacob.
Jacob had 12 sons; they became the Israelite Tribes.
Jacob's son Joseph, with his family and their offspring migrated? or were sold? to Egypt. They became established a farmers along the Nile. Joseph himself became an advisor to one of the Pharaohs.
This brings us to tonight's celebration.
It appears that drought came to Canaan and Joseph sent for the other branches of his family. He invited them to come to Egypt. The Nile floods annually and fertilizes the land; this area is less subject to rainfall, at least in Egypt. these families grew larger and larger over the years.
1800-1500 BC - New Pharaohs assumed control
Words of Exodus: The Israelites or Jews became enslaved; they were probably one of many tribes who lived in Egypt. Part of the Seder tonight covers the slavery in Egypt and the final redemption and exodus from Egypt of the Israelites. The exodus occurred approximately 1200 BC.
After 40 years of wandering in the Sinai Peninsula where Moses died, the Israelites arrived in Canaan and under Joshua defeated the Canaanites at Jericho and took possession of the land.
As a result of their enslavement and subsequent liberation, the Jewish religion has established a sense of social responsibility toward the poor and other less fortunate people. Even in the destruction of their enemies, when the Egyptians drowned in the parting of the Red Sea, the Israelites were told to abstain from gloating at the misfortune of their erstwhile enemies.
We will bypass this period to complete our cycle of history.
The Israelites multiplied and established the Kingdom of David.
925-1000 BC - Solomon - This takes us to the peak of Israelite power in the Middle East with the capital in Jerusalem and its Temple.
After Solomon - internal strife and external attacks decreased the size of the kingdom. The country split into two, with the northern part called Israel and the southern part called Judea.
722 BC The Northern Kingdom fell around this time as a result of the attacks from armies from Persia and Babylonia. They dispersed the tribes living in Israel, Judea, the southern kingdom was able to hold out until 586 BC when Jerusalem fell and the 1st Temple was destroyed. The people went into exile in Babylon.
536 BC The Babylonian King allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to re-establish their land; some did, but many did not and became the predecessors of multiple Jewish communities in the Middle East.
63 BC The Romans conquered most of Israel and Judea. The Romans finally destroyed the 2nd Temple and crushed the remaining resistance at Masada. This spelled the end of Jewish Independence.
Simultaneously, among many attempts at religious renaissance, a Jew named Jesus was born and so we come to the birth of the Catholic religion out of which 1500 years later Protestantism originate, and so we come full circle to the western religions.
With the fall of the Second Temple and the Roman dispersion, our family history begins.
Jews were taken to Rome and other parts of Italy by the Romans and finally north along the rivers, primarily the Rhine. Jewish presence began there in 100 AD and lasted until 1940, the Holocaust, which brings us to roughly present day.
As a result of personal research, I have been able to trace the origins of my part of the family to the early 1700's. One part comes from a town called Rheinback, about 15 miles south of Cologne, where I was born. This leaves me only about 1600 years more to research.
Manfred Simon, 2016