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Source : Image from Adapted from Dinah Winnick
Tikkun Olam

We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story. We not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it through our representations at the Passover Seder, bringing its transformative power into our own lives.

The Jewish people, according to the Torah, left Egypt with “a mixed multitude” -- a multicultural mélange of people attracted to a vision of social transformation. Tonight, in every corner of the globe, we gather around tables with people of all races and religions who are willing to proclaim the message of those ancient enslaved people: The pain or abuse of just one person has a ripple effect for others. The way we treat people affects us all. Let us work together with love and respect for one another to create harmony and peace for ourselves.

Everyone: As we strive to create a better future and more peaceful world in which to live, we say:

Leader: Baruch amal kapainu.

Everyone: Blessed is the work of our hands.

Leader: Baruch chazon sheh-b'chol echod.

Everyone: Blessed is the vision of our minds.

Source : Adapted from and

The traditional Passover (also known as "Pesach") Seder , which means “order” in Hebrew, begins on Erev Pesach -- that is, before sundown -- during the first full moon in the first month of the lunar year. It is an eight-day springtime holiday that usually occurs in March or April on our modern Gregorian calendar.

The Passover meal is called a Seder because we go through 14 specific steps -- in a specific "order" -- as we retell the story of the Jews liberation from slavery in Egypt.

Let’s begin our Seder by reciting the names of the 14 steps:

Kiddush (the blessing over wine) | kadesh |קַדֵּשׁ

Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the Seder | urchatz |וּרְחַץ

Dipping a green vegetable in salt water| karpas |כַּרְפַּס

Breaking the middle matzoh | yachatz |יַחַץ

Telling the story of Passover and Miriam's Cup| magid |מַגִּיד

Ritual hand-washing in preparation for the meal | rachtza |רָחְצָה

The blessing over the meal and matzoh | motzi matzah |מוֹצִיא מַצָּה

Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror |מָרוֹר

Eating a sandwich of matzoh and bitter herb | korech |כּוֹרֵךְ

Eating the meal | shulchan oreich |שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

Finding and eating the afikomen | tzafoon |צָפוּן

Giving thanks and inviting Elijah the Prophet | barech |בָּרֵךְ

Singing songs of gratitude | hallel |הַלֵּל

Ending the Seder | nirtzah |נִרְצָה

Source : Adapted from Beth Winters
The Symbols of the Passover (Pesach) Seder Plate

At the head of the table is the beautiful Seder Plate. In Hebrew, we call the plate a “ka’arah."

Before the Seder, we set the Seder Plate by placing three whole Matzot under a covering beneath the plate, then we arrange six items on the plate, each one reminding us of the Passover story:

Zeroah: The Zeroah, a roasted bone, reminds us of the offering the ancient Jews used to make in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The shank bone represents the Pesach, the lamb sacrifice, made in the days of the Temple for the Passover holiday. In fact, the holiday is called Pesach, from the Hebrew word meaning “to pass over,” because God "passed over" the houses of the Jews in Egypt when visiting plagues upon their oppressors. The Israelites were instructed to smear the blood of a lamb across the door of their homes so God would not afflict them with plagues delivered to the Egyptians.

Beitzah: A beitzah is a hard-boiled egg. It reminds us of the festival offering which was brought to the Holy Temple on Pesach and the rebirth of the Earth at Springtime.

Maror: The maror (bitter herbs) provide a visceral reminder of the harsh suffering and bitterness of slavery, the life of hard labor our ancestors endured in Egypt.

Charoset: Charoset is a mixture of chopped apple, walnuts and red wine. Ground up together, it represents the mortar that laid between the stones of the pyramids the Hebrews built, and reminds us of how hard we were forced to work when we were slaves in Egypt. It also reminds us of the sweetness of that freedom.

Karpas: This non-bitter vegetable can be a sprig of parsley, a small slice of onion or even a slice of boiled potato. We dip the karpas, representing nature and its annual regeneration, into salt water, representing the salty tears the Jews cried when they were slaves.

Chazeret: Chazeret is a leafy green, like a piece of lettuce, and is the second portion of bitter herbs which we eat during the Seder. The lettuce symbolizes the bitter enslavement of our fathers in Egypt: The leaves of romaine lettuce are not bitter, but the stem, when left to grow in the ground, turns hard and bitter. So it was with the Jews enslavement in ancient Egypt: At first the deceitful approach of Pharaoh was soft and sensible, and the work was done voluntarily and even for pay. Gradually, it evolved into forced and cruel labor. This bitter herb is eaten in a matzoh sandwich (korech) with maror.

Source : Compilation By Brandi Ullian
Special Seder Plate Symbols

The foods on the Seder plate are meant to elicit questions that lead to the telling of the story of the Exodus. Tonight, as we retell our story of liberation and pledge to bring freedom to all people, we must also consider the freedoms of others -- both realized and denied. We represent these experiences in the other symbols on our Seder plate: the orange, potato, chocolate, olive and artichoke.

Orange: We include the orange in order to accept and acknowledge freedom and diversity in our community. As we said earlier, the Jewish people left Egypt with “a mixed multitude” of people attracted to a vision of social transformation. Just as the orange is naturally made up of many pieces -- none of which are identical to the other -- so, too, is the world made up many different and unique people and cultures. This fruit serves as a new symbol of acceptance for all the races, cultures, creeds, genders and identities that surround us, both alike and different, and a symbol of equality for all men and women throughout the world. By welcoming others with our hearts and minds, we celebrate the liberty everyone everywhere deserves.

Potato: We've added the potato to remember the plight of migrants and refugees, an addition inspired by Israel's 1991 Operation Solomon mission, a covert plan to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. When these famished immigrants arrived in Israel, many were so hungry and ill that they were unable to digest anything but simple boiled potatoes and rice until their systems could take more food. This potato also represents the present-day exodus of all immigrants who are fleeing their homeland to seek a life without war and oppression.

Chocolate: The chocolate symbolizes the fair trade movement, which promotes standards that aim to bring empowerment, economic development, social development and environmental stewardship to farmers and workers around the world. Many companies exploit their workers by paying them unfair wages, and forcing them to work day and night under horrific conditions, practices many have compared to the 21st century form of slavery. Fair Trade-certified products are made by standards that prohibit the use of forced labor, and we include it to remind us that, although we escaped from slavery in Egypt, forced labor is still very much alive today.

Olive: For millennia, the olive branch has been the symbol of peace. We place the olive on our Seder plate as a symbol of hope for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people, and for all peoples in the midst or caught in the crossfire of conflict.

Artichoke: The artichoke is another new addition to the plate, which represents the acceptance of the interracial and interfaith. Until 1967, it was illegal in many parts of the United States to marry outside of your race, but the landmark case of Loving vs. Virginia changed that. The Lovings were Mildred Loving, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man who had been sentenced to a year in a Virginia prison for marrying Mildred. The Supreme Court's unanimous decision determined that this prohibition was unconstitutional, ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

An artichoke has many petals, thistles and a heart. The thistles are on its outside, representing how some many still oppose and question the stability of interracial and interfaith marriages. We remove those thistles tonight, only keeping the heart and surrounding petals, to represent the shedding of those prejudices, and emphasize that we don't need to all look the same on the outside or have the same belief system to love and respect one another: it's only what's in one's heart that is important.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source : Image by Haggadot. Compilation by Brandi Ullian.
Kiddush and Cup #1: The Cup of Sanctification

The first step of the Seder is Kadesh, in which we recite the Kiddush over wine (or grape juice), sanctifying the night and the holiday, and celebrating our freedom. The Hebrew word “Kiddush” means sanctification, but it is not the wine we sanctify. Instead, the wine is a symbol of the sanctity, the preciousness, and the sweetness of the Seder.

The four (or five, if you'd like) cups of wine used in the Seder symbolize the four blessings the Hebrews received in the story of Exodus.

Cup #1: The Cup of Sanctification
Cup #2: The Cup of Deliverance
Cup #3: The Cup of Redemption
Cup #4: The Cup of Restoration
Optional Cup #5: The Cup of Hope (Elijah's Cup)

For thousands of years, Jews have affirmed that by participating in the Passover Seder, we not only remember the Exodus, but actually relive it, bringing its transformative power into our own lives. We are gathered here tonight to affirm our continuity with the generations of Jews who kept alive the vision of freedom in the Passover story, as well as our dedication to help ensure the freedom of people from all walks of life.

Now, it's time for our first glass of wine! Have someone else fill your cup, and return them the favor. This way, we are all like nobility, whose cups are filled by someone else.

Before we drink, we give thanks for the force -- whether you believe it is God or nature or pure luck -- that keeps us alive, gives us food to eat and water to drink, and has brought us together to celebrate this moment. Below is the blessing over the wine for the festival of Passover (with parentheses when the Seder falls on Friday night (Shabbat)). The Shehecheyanu is recited after the kiddush, immediately before drinking the wine.

Let us raise our glasses, recite the blessing and enjoy the first cup!

Leader: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, asher bachar banu mikol am v'rom'manu mikol lashon v'kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, b'ahavah Shabbatot lim'nuchah u moadim l'simchah chagim uz'manim l'sason et yom; et yom (haShabbat hazeh v'et) chag hamatzot hazeh z'man cheiruteinu b'ahavah mikra kodesh zeicher litziat Mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v'otanu kidashta mikol haamim v'Shabbat umoadei kodsh'cah b'ahavah uv'ratzon b'simchah uv'sason hinchaltanu. Baruch atah Adonai, m'kadeish haShabbat v'Yisrael v'hazmanim.

Blessed is the force of the universe that chose us from all peoples, exalting us and sanctifying us with commandments, giving us Sabbaths of rest, feasts of gladness and seasons of joy; (this Shabbat day and) this festival of matzot, season of our freedom, in love, a holy commemoration, a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us from all peoples, consecrating us to your service, giving us the Sabbath, a sign of your love and favor and the Festivals, a time of gladness and joy. Blessed is the force that sanctifies Shabbat, our people Israel, and the Festivals.

Everyone:   Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, borei p'ri hagafen.

Blessed is the force that created the fruit of the vine.

(Shehecheyanu blessing)  Baruch atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam, she-hecheyanu v'ki-yemanu v-higiany lazeman hazeh.

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

[Drink the first cup of wine and recline to the left.]

Why do we recline? Reclining at the Seder is an outward display of freedom. In ancient Egypt, royalty would often have special lounges upon which they would recline while eating their meals. On the night of the Seder, we project the feeling that a Jewish life is a royal life. Jewish law makes a point of saying that even a pauper is obligated to recline at the Seder. Often times people equate wealth with freedom, the assumption being that "the wealthier I become, the freer I will be." To this, the pauper's reclining at the Seder retorts, "It's not how much you have that determines your freedom, but what you do with what you have." No matter how numerous or how meager your possessions, when they are used to help others and to promote meaningful endeavors, they are instruments of freedom.

Source : Image from Torah Tots. Edited by Brandi Ullian.

Water is refreshing, cleansing, and clear, so it’s easy to understand why so many cultures and religions use water for symbolic purification. We will stop to wash our hands twice during our Seder to prepare us for upcoming aspects of the evening: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, with a blessing, preparing us for the meal that Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself.

To wash your hands, you don’t need soap, but you do need a pitcher to pour water over your hands. Pour water on each of your hands three times, alternating between your hands with each pour.

Too often during our daily lives, we don’t stop and take the moment to prepare for whatever it is we’re about to do. While we wash, let's pause to think about the story we will discuss during our evening together tonight -- the tale of slavery and the struggle for freedom -- and how even now we still see these issues play out in our modern lives. Just like the water freshens our hands, let us refresh our hearts and minds, and rededicate ourselves to ensuring freedom and liberty exist for people everywhere.

Source : Image from Luria Academy. Text adaptation by Brandi Ullian.

Passover, like many Jewish holidays, celebrates both a Jewish story and a universal cycle of nature. Every year during this season, we tell the story of Exodus, and also recognize and celebrate dawning of Spring on Earth. In fact, Passover is also referred to as Chag HaAviv -- the Spring Festival.

All of the symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration, and the karpas -- usually a green, leafy vegetable, like parsley -- and salt water are perfect examples of this: the karpas represents nature's rebirth, and the salt water represents the sadness of the ancient Jews when they were slaves in Egypt. Greens for Spring, salty water for tears.

We dip the karpas in the salt water twice: the first time to remind us of the pain in the Exodus tale; the second time to remind us that we are a part of nature's cycle, and that it is the Earth's water, air and plants that enable us to live.

[Everyone: Take a piece of parsley and dip it in salt water.]

Before we eat our greens, we recite a short blessing:

Leader: Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree ha-adama.

Everyone: Blessed is the force that creates the fruits of the earth.

[Everyone: Eat the parsley.]

Source : Image by Congregation Shomrei Emunah. Compilation by Brandi Ullian.
The Three Pieces of Matzoh

There are three pieces of matzoh stacked on the table. The top matzoh is for the usual blessing over bread, the HaMotzi. The bottom matzoh is for the korech sandwich made with matzoh, maror, and charoset. We break the middle matzoh in two to represent suffering. The leader will wrap up the larger of the broken pieces and hide it. This piece is called the "afikomen," literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests have to hunt for the afikomen and trade it for a prize.

The matzot are symbolic of the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. On a practical level, three matzot are needed so that when we break the middle matzah, we are still left with two whole ones to pronounce the HaMotzi blessing.

We eat matzoh in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, when the word of their freedom came, they took whatever dough they had and ran with it before it had the chance to rise, leaving it looking something like matzoh.

One story about why we save the middle matzoh goes like this: When the Jewish people were fleeing Egypt and Pharaoh, they put three pieces of matzoh on their backs as they fled. The matzoh pressed against their backs got too sweaty and soggy to be good, and the matzoh on the top was burnt by the hot Sinai desert sun, but the middle one was perfectly cooked. Although the Jewish people ate all of the matzoh, good and bad, they always saved the best piece -- the broken middle piece -- for last.

The broken piece of matzoh represents many things. First, it is an example of the price of freedom. We recognize that freedom does not always come easily and is often fragmented in its early stages. However, even what is created from broken pieces can be a "dessert" to others.

Secondly, the broken matzoh can serve as a lesson to us as individuals, proving we don't have to be "perfect" to be valuable to others around us -- sometimes the best we've got is just what someone else needs.

Lastly, when we offer the matzoh, saying “This is the bread of poverty and affliction; let all who are hungry come and eat,” the broken matzoh reminds us of the spirit of generosity. It contradicts the message of our society that suggests we shouldn't share what we have with others who have less. Those who practice tikkun (the act of repairing or healing the world) are those who proudly proclaim: "There is enough and we can afford to share."

[Leader: Uncover the three matzot on the tray. Take the middle matzoh and break it into two, one piece larger than the other. The larger piece is placed in the afikoman bag and set aside. The smaller piece is put back between the two matzot. Hold up all three pieces of matzoh (except for the afikoman).]

Leader: This is the bread of poverty and affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover with us. This year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free people.

[Leader: Set the matzoh down onto the tray.]

[Everyone: Pour your second cup of wine.]

Maggid - Beginning
Source : Adapted from the Machar Congregation
The Relevance of the Story of Passover

Passover is the celebration of life. The theme of the Jewish people's triumph over oppression in Egypt is a universal message that many cultures have similarly experienced, both in the past and today. We know African slaves fought for their freedom in America, but even now African-Americans are still fighting for equal treatment. Muslims today struggle for freedom in the Middle East and as refugees in new adopted homelands. Christians and non-Christians alike in Africa seek liberty from the violent Boko Haram. Women are waging battle against a culture of rape and subordination in India.

But, against the odds, people have done more than survive -- we have adapted creatively to each new time, each new place, from the birth of our people to the present day. Even though violence and death has pursued us relentlessly, time and time again, we have chosen to fight and live.

During the many centuries of the human experience, stories of pain are tempered by tales of how the world can also be good. There have been times of slavery and humiliation. There have also been times of freedom and righteousness. Darkness has been balanced by light.

Each of our forebears have were at times forced to travel parts of the Earth in search of the safety and liberty they knew must exist. They taught us how to endure. They taught us how to progress. They were proud survivors, and passed their pride and success to future generations. Today, we celebrate our good fortune that we live better than they did, and seek the advancement of all those still struggling for their freedom.

-- Four Questions
Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
What's So Special About Passover?

Asking questions is a core tradition in Jewish life, and the formal telling of the story of Passover is framed as a discussion with lots of questions and answers. The rabbis who created the set format for the Seder gave us these Four (or, technically, five) Questions to help break the ice:

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma Neeshtana ha-laila ha-zeh meekol ha-laylot?

Why is this night different from all other nights of the year?

Because on this night, we celebrate one of the most important times in the history of humanity, when we went forth from slavery to freedom.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה

Sheh-bichol ha-laylot anoo ochleem chametz oo-matzoh. Halailah hazeh chametz oomatz?

On all other nights, we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. Why on this night do we eat only matzoh?

We eat the matzoh for two reasons: first, to remember the bread of affliction we had to eat when we were slaves and second, to remember how our ancestors fled from Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time for their bread dough to rise.

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot anoo ochleem sheh-ar yerakot. Ha-lailah hazeh maror?

On all other nights, we eat vegetables of all kinds. Why on this night must we eat bitter herbs?

We eat them to remind ourselves of how our ancestors’ lives were bitter as slaves in Egypt.

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

Sheh-bi'chol ha-laylot ayn anoo mat-bee- leen afeeloo pa-am echad. Ha-laila hazeh sh'tay pi-ameem?

On all other nights, we do not dip vegetables even once. Why on this night do we dip greens into salt water twice, and bitter herbs into sweet charoset?

We dip karpas in salt water to remember the salty tears of the slaves, and also to remember how we crossed the salty waters of the sea. We also dip the maror in the charoset to remember how the bitterness of our slavery was made sweet by the hope for our freedom.

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

Sheh- bi'chol ha-laylot anoo ochleem bayn yoshveen oo-bayn misoobeen. Ha-laila hazeh koolanoo misooveen?

On all other nights, everyone sits up straight at the table. Why on this night do we recline and eat at leisure?

We recline tonight as a symbol of our freedom, for when we were slaves we could never recline in comfort.

-- Four Children
Source : Text adaptation by Brandi Ullian

As we tell the story of Pesach, we think about it from all angles. Our Haggadah 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, statutes, and judgments we learn through the Passover story?"

Discuss with that child the order and meaning of the Seder, and teach this child the rules of observing the holiday of Passover.

What does the thoughtless child say?

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

By using the word “you” and not “us,” the child is not including him or herself in the community. Because he takes himself out of the community and misses the point, say to this child: “This service helps us remember and learn from our people’s journey to freedom.”

The simple child asks, "What is this?"

To this child, answer plainly: “This is the story of the ancient Jewish people's journey to freedom.”

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

Help this child by telling the story of when the Jews went forth from Egypt.

Some say that The Four Children is a metaphor for the four different attitudes toward tradition, toward belonging and toward being active or passive in the face of injustice. Some say it is about stages of life, from childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood (and, potentially, back again toward old age).

In the spirit of telling the story of Exodus, and different attitudes that one might take to one's communal and global responsibilities, let us think about our relationship to our own traditions, the people from whom or the place from which we come and the events taking place there, and ask ourselves these four questions:

- How does the Passover story apply to the present day?

- How can I relate the story of Pesach to me and/or my community?

- What is something I can do every day to help others attain freedom and liberty?

- How can I encourage others to inspire change?

-- Exodus Story
Source : Compilation
The Exodus Story

The tale of the Jewish people's first quest for freedom from slavery in Egypt was written so long ago that no one knows how much of it is fact and how much is fiction. Like all good stories, however, its moral lessons are valid and important.

The 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 all-powerful god 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.

Abraham was convinced this God would make his family a great nation in Canaan and believed God spoke to him, saying: “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."

[Everyone raises their glasses of wine.]

Leader:  וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

Everyone: This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

[Everyone: Put down the glasses of wine.]

The words became true: During a time of famine in Israel, Abraham's descendants, now known as Israelites, traveled to Egypt. According to this legend, the Israelites were all the single family of Jacob -- Abraham's grandson --and his children.

At first, things were good: One of Jacob's sons, Joseph, was very wise -- so wise that he even became a leader over all the people of Egypt. But eventually another man became the ruler of Egypt. This new Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by the growing numbers of Israelites within their borders, so they enslaved the Israelites and forced them to perform hard labor. This slavery went on for 400 years before a prophecy started circulating among Egyptian priests about a baby boy who would be born a Hebrew slave and eventually free the Israelites. The Egyptians so feared the prophecy that the Pharaoh decreed that all Israelite baby boys should be drowned.

Upon hearing the Pharaoh's order and desperate to save her infant son, one Israelite mother, Yocheved, begged her daughter, Miriam, to hide her baby brother, named Moses, who Miriam had prophesied would be born and save the Hebrew people. Miriam hid him by the side of a river, but the Pharaoh's daughter discovered the infant; however, instead of murdering the baby, she took pity on the child and decided to adopt him. Miriam saw this and advised the princess to take on a nurse for the child, suggesting Yocheved for the job.

As Moses grew up with the Egyptian royal family under his mother's secret care, he was raised to know his heritage as a Hebrew. One day, Moses saw an Egyptian master beating a Hebrew slave, and so he killed the slave master. After the murder, he fled across the Red Sea, but encountered a voice that spoke to him from within a "burning bush," telling him to go back to Egypt and demand that the Pharaoh release the Israelites from slavery.

And so Moses returned to his homeland and demanded the Pharaoh let his people go, but the Pharaoh refused to allow the people of Israel to leave Egypt. God heard the cries of the Israelites, and sent plague after plague on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Nine plagues the Lord inflicted on the Egyptians; each of them frightened Pharaoh, and he promised to let the Israelites go, but when the plagues stopped he took back his promise. Finally, God sent the tenth plague — the killing of the firstborn. But first, God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to slay a lamb and smear its blood on their doorposts. He said to Moses, “It is the Lord’s Passover. On that night I shall pass through the land of Egypt and kill every firstborn of man and beast. The blood will be a sign on the houses in which you are: when I see the blood I shall pass over you; when I strike Egypt, the mortal blow will not touch you.”

After the last plague, the death of the first born, Pharaoh summoned Moses and his brother, Aaron, and said, "Up with you! Be off and leave my people, you and the Israelites. Go and worship your God." But when it was reported that the Israelites had gone, the Pharaoh once again had a change of heart. The Egyptians, all Pharaoh’s chariots and horses, cavalry and infantry, went in pursuit, and found them camped beside the sea.

God said to Moses, "You are to raise high your staff and hold your hand out over the sea to divide it asunder, so the Israelites can pass through the sea on dry ground." And the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, while the waters formed a wall to the right and left of them. Then God said to Moses, "Hold your hand out over the sea, so that the water may flow back on the Egyptians, their chariots and horsemen." Moses did as he was told, and as the water came back it covered all Pharaoh’s army, the chariots and cavalry. Not one of them survived.

That was the day the Lord saved the Israelites from the Pharaoh of Egypt.

-- Exodus Story
Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
Go Down Moses

"Go Down Moses" is an American Negro spiritual. It describes events in the Old Testament of the Bible, specifically Exodus 8:1 ( "And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me" ), in which God commands Moses to demand the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In the context of American slavery, "Israel" represents the African-American slaves, while "Egypt" stands for slave states and "Pharaoh" represents the slavemaster. Former slave Harriet Tubman is quoted as saying "Go Down Moses" was one of two code songs fugitive slaves used to communicate when fleeing Maryland.

"Go Down Moses"

Verse 1: When Israel was in Egypt’s land,

(All: Let my people go)

Oppressed so hard they could not stand

(All: Let my people go)

Refrain (All): Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let my people go.

Other verses:
The Lord told Moses what to do,
To lead the children of Israel through

The pillar of cloud shall clear the way,
A fire by night, a shade by day

As Israel stood by the water-side,
At God’s command it did divide

When they had reached the other shore,
They sang the song of triumph over

Oh, let us all from bondage flee,
And let us all in the Lord be free

-- Ten Plagues
Source : Image by Beth Flusser (watercolor and pen on paper 2011). Edited by Brandi Ullian.
The Ten Plagues

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, and so we remove a little bit of wine from our cups for each of the plagues as we recite them.

When saying the ten plagues, do not remove wine by dipping a finger, but with a spoon. The wine in the spoon symbolizes an aspect of anger and indignation, and we should remove that anger from our cup of joy. Additionally, a drop is the smallest amount we could possibly take from the cup, and we should not limit our empathy for others, even the Egyptians, because they have suffered.

These are the ten plagues which God brought down on the Egyptians:

[Everyone: Remove a small amount of wine using your spoon, saying each plague as you pour the wine on your plate.]

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

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Haggadot
Avadim Hayinu - When Jews Were Slaves in Egypt

Jews annually tell the story of yetziat mitzrayim, the Exodus from Egypt, as a reminder that their ancestors were enslaved in a land not their own. The classical Ashkenazi Haggadah text goes even further. It declares that:

ְ Be'chol dor va’dor chayav adam lirot et atzmo ke’ilu hu yatzah miMitzrayim

“In every generation, we are obligated to see ourselves as though we personally came out of Egypt."

More than just ritual observance, we are directed to feel what it might have been like to escape from slavery to remind us how our ancestors stood strong against injustice. The Seder also serves to remind us that the fight against oppression is not exclusive to Jews or only lives in the past; people of all backgrounds and creeds have been stripped of their freedom throughout history, and many fight for it still today. The Exodus story asserts unapologetically that oppression can and must end, and that, just as our ancient ancestors fought for us, we Jews have a duty to continue the fight against injustice wherever it exists.

Until only about 100 years ago, most Jews lived in Europe, where they were often persecuted for their religion and culture. Their lives were filled with terror and oppression, but, fortunately, many Jewish families were able to move to America, a place where they could live without the fears they experienced in their homeland. By the thousands, and then by the millions, year after year, they left all they had ever known to embark on a dangerous voyage for the shores of the United States, where many found "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

The tale does not end as happily for every culture, however. Even now in the 21st century, the struggle for freedom continues for others. This evening, as we celebrate our own liberation, let us take notice of the on-going struggles toward liberty here and in many other parts of the world.

Four centuries ago, African people were kidnapped from their homelands, stripped of their liberties, history and culture, and forced to live as slaves here in America. They longed for freedom, and were inspired by the story of Moses and the ancient Israelites; when they sang the popular spiritual "Go Down Moses," they were thinking of their own leaders who were working to end slavery: In the song "Israel" represents the African-American slaves while "Egypt" and "Pharaoh" represent the plantation and slavemaster respectively. After gaining their freedom, however, they still faced oppression and discrimination, much of it legally enforced by cities, states and the federal government. Even now, roughly 50 years after the abolition of those laws, the damage slavery inflicted continues to affect many African-Americans, and many still face prejudice simply because of the color of their skin.

Oppression reaches beyond race and religion, however. Not long ago here in the United States, our LGBT friends and family of all creeds were unable to live their lives openly and without discrimination; many men and women were attacked or even murdered for their orientation. Today, while progress has been made to treat the LGBT community fairly in America and across the globe, many individuals still face discrimination and danger or even death, simply because of their identity, orientation and who they choose love.

There are countless other examples of oppression and the fight for liberty: Japanese internment camps during World War II, the Civil Rights movement, the numerous drives for women's equality throughout the 20th century, the present Black Lives Matter movement, etc. The freedom we honor tonight is not only freedom from slavery; it is also the freedom to live in peace, with dignity and hope for a bright future. Tonight, think about how you have been oppressed, as well as who you have oppressed and how. We have all stood by and watched oppression take place, even if we ourselves were not the ones perpetrating it, and in that regard even our inaction is a form of oppression. Our communal stories of injustice should propel us forward into the fight for the full equality and humanity of all those around us who are less privileged and face discrimination in any form, especially when they call on us for solidarity.

As Jews and, more importantly, as humans, we have an obligation to defend freedom. Let us remember that the thirst for freedom exists in all people, and pledge to fight for everyone's right to it.

Leader: Avadim Hayinu – We were once slaves.

Everyone: We remember our histories, we acknowledge our pasts.

Leader: Atah b’nei horin – Now we are free.

Everyone: We have a responsibility to fight for justice for all.

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Adapted from
Cup #2: The Cup of Deliverance

Each Passover, everyone seated at the Seder table is asked to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.

The Seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors who were saved from slavery -- we were saved along with them.

Group says: We are grateful for the rescue of our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzoh and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.

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

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

Group: We thank the force that creates the fruit of the vine.

[Everyone: Drink the second glass of wine.]

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : Image from Text adapted from, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holzblatt
Miriam's Cup

Like most religions, Judaism developed within a patriarchal society. Men recorded and interpreted religious law and wrote the traditional prayers. Miriam's Cup is a newer ritual object that is placed on the Seder table beside the Cup of Elijah to represent her importance -- and the importance of many women -- in the Passover story. Miriam's Cup is filled with water, rather than wine, and serves as a symbol of Miriam's Well, which was the source of water for the Israelites in the desert for 40 years. To emphasize this, everyone at the Seder table should fill Miriam's cup with a little water from your own water glass.

Filling Miriam's Cup is also a way of drawing attention to the importance of the other women of the Exodus story who have sometimes been overlooked but about whom Jewish 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) In Exodus, there are five brave women: Yocheved, Moses’ mother, who chooses to let her son, Moses, live; and Shifra and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who defy the Pharaoh's order to kill the first born sons of the Jews. Then there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, who ensures her brother will live and about whom the following story is told:

Miriam 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 become 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. When Batya’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, but Batya ignored them and did what she knew was right. As a result, she allowed the Jewish people to be saved.

These women were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their visions a reality. Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds all of us—women and men—that with vision and the courage to act, we can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

Like Miriam and the other women of Exodus, women in all generations and all cultures have been essential for the continuity of our people. Let us drink from our water glasses to celebrate them, and draw from the strength and wisdom of our heritage.

[Leader: Fill Miriam's cup with water. When filled, everyone raises their water glass.]

Leader: Yehi ratzon milfanecha, adonai eloheinu, velohei avoteinu v'imoteinu, borei ha'olam: shetishm'reinu ut'kaymeinu bamidbar chayeinu im mayim chayim. V'titen lanu et hachizzuk v'et hachomchah l'daat she'tzmichat geulateinu nimtza baderekh chayim lo rak b'sof haderekh.

"Blessed is the force that sustains us with living water. May we, like the children of Israel leaving Egypt, be guarded and nurtured and kept alive in the wilderness, and may we receive the wisdom to understand that the journey itself holds the promise of redemption."

[Everyone: Take a sip of water from your water glass!]

Source : Adapted from

As we now transition from the formal telling of the Passover story to the celebratory meal, we once again wash our hands to prepare ourselves. In Judaism, a good meal together with friends and family is itself a sacred act, so we prepare for it just as we prepared for our holiday ritual, recalling the way ancient priests once prepared for service in the Temple.

Some people distinguish between washing to prepare for prayer and washing to prepare for food by changing the way they pour water on their hands. For washing before food, pour water three times on your right hand, and then three times on your left hand.

After you have poured the water over your hands, do not speak. Once you return to the table, we will recite this short blessing together:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָֽיִם

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

We praise the force that gives us the ritual to wash our hands.

Source : By
More Matzoh??

The familiar hamotzi blessing marks the formal start of the meal. Because we are using matzoh instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this mitzvah. The matzoh is salted as a reminder that all the sacrifices brought into the Temple were salted before being burned at the altar.

[Leader: Distribute and the top and half of the middle matzoh for everyone to eat. Everyone: Salt the two pieces, then recite the blessing.]

Leader: Barukh ata adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem meen ha-aretz.

Group: Blessed is the force that brings forth bread from the earth.

Leader: Barukh ata adonai, eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher kid d’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu al akheelat matzah.

Group: Blessed is the force that has sanctified us with the commandment to eat unleavened bread.

[Everyone: Eat the matzoh while reclining to the left.]

Source : Compilation By Brandi Ullian
You Want Me To Eat WHAT?

In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We experience this by eating bitter maror, followed by sweet charoset.

We first eat the maror by itself, as a reminder of the bitterness the Israelites experiences in Egypt.

[Everyone: Eat a piece of maror. Since maror is a symbol of bondage, we do not recline while eating it.]

Now, we eat the maror and charoset together. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet, but we recognize that the sweet means more when layered over the bitter. This symbolizes the journey from slavery to freedom.

[Everyone: Eat spoon a small amount of charoset onto the maror, then recite the blessing.]

Leader: 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.

Everyone: Blessed is the force that sanctified us with the commandment to eat bitter herbs.

[Everyone: Eat the charoset and maror together. Do not recline while eating it.]

Source : By Brandi Ullian, adapted from
A Blend of Flavors and the Case for Fellowship

Maror is 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 enslavement to to our own bad habits, discomforts and fears. Sometimes our own enslavement in past emotional bondage prevents us from being open to others in our lives. Our own singular negative experiences fuel prejudices that we attach to new people or experiences in our lives, preventing us from being open to present possibilities.

Charoset symbolizes the mortar of the bricks of the Israelites, but also represents the bonds of interdependence. In the Exodus tale, the Jews would never have been saved without the help of others, from Pharoah's daughter Batya, to the Pharoah's midwives Shifra and Puah, and even God. Thanks to the understanding and respect for humanity shown by these women, the lives of the Jewish people were forever altered.

Today, we face an evolving world. The composite of our country is changing as people from countries near and far arrive seeking independence from social, economic and political oppression. Racial and gender barriers are disintegrating as people of all colors and creeds find love and friendship between one another. The traditional roles of women and men have shifted as our workplaces and homes begin to suit our needs, not our genders. Yet many cling to the past in fear, blind to the advantages change can bring to this new world. But just as our tongues would suffer against the bitterness of maror without charoset, so would we suffer without the exposure to new people, places and ideas in our lives.

Take a look around the table tonight, and note the mix of races, genders, faiths and traditions that sit together at this Seder. This moment is but a small snapshot of what connectedness can offer: learning, understanding, sharing and respect for others. This shared experience reinforces the message that -- regardless of history and our past experiences -- we have the ability to move forward and come together. Let us go out and share this experience with others in the hope that we can inspire similar connections with the rest of the world.

Source : Adapted from
The Taste of Pain and Redemption

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the biggest ritual of them all was eating the lamb offered as the Passover sacrifice. The great sage Hillel would put the meat in a sandwich made of matzah, along with some of the bitter herbs. While we do not make sacrifices any more – and, in fact, some Jews have a custom of purposely avoiding lamb during the seder so that it is not mistaken as a sacrifice – we honor this custom by eating a sandwich of the remaining matzoh, maror and charoset. We make these sandwiches to remind us of the mortar our ancestors used to construct huge monuments for Pharaoh in Egypt, the bitterness of slavery, and the sweetness that gives us hope that the future will bring redemption and justice to all people.

As you we eat this sandwich, we hope for a more just future in our own communities, and use this sandwich as sustenance for the work ahead.

Everyone: In ancient times, the reverend sage, Hillel, would eat a sandwich of matzoh and maror to fulfill the commandment "They shall eat the paschal lamb together with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs." Thus, he did combine them, even as we now do, and ate them together.

[Everyone: Eat the sandwich. Recline to the left while eating.]

Shulchan Oreich
Shulchan Oreich and Cup #3: The Cup of Redemption

It's almost time to eat! Before we chow down, let's fill that third glass of wine and give thanks for the meal we're about to consume.

On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to the forces that brought us together:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Group says: We praise force of the world, that created the fruit of the vine, that sustains the world.

[Everyone: Drink the third glass of wine.]


Shulchan Oreich
Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
Eggs: They're Not Just for Breakfast!

It is customary to begin the Passover meal with hard-boiled eggs flavored with salt water. The egg is a reminder of the Spring, rebirth and the beginning of a new year. It is also symbolic of life; when combined with the salt water, a symbol of tears, it is a reminder of the cyclical nature of life and death. In addition, eggs, unlike other foods, harden when they are cooked, symbolic of our resolve being tested and hardened by our life's trials.

Another year has passed since we gathered at the Seder table and we are once again reminded that life is fleeting. We are reminded to use each precious moment wisely so that no day will pass without bringing us closer to some worthy achievement as we all take a moment to be aware of how truly fortunate we are.

There are many holidays and events to celebrate throughout the year -- birthdays, weddings, etc. -- and they are all opportunities for self-reflection, to reflect on our past, where we have been, and how we will live our lives in the future. In our reflection, may we reaffirm our commitment to lead good and meaningful lives, soften our hearts to those around us, and make peace in the lives of others wherever we go.

Source : By Lauren Plattman and Leslie Klein. Adapted by Brandi Ullian.
Where's the Afikomen?

Tzafun, which literally means “hidden,” is the part of the Seder where we seek what is not obvious, when we look for something other than what is in front of our faces. It is also when we return to that which was broken earlier in the evening and make it meaningful. In this way, Tzafun serves as the organizing principle of the second half of our Seder, where we ask ourselves what world we want to see, when we commit ourselves to making our vision real.

Searching and finding the matzoh is a tradition for the children to search for and find the afikomen, and when they do, they are given a reward by the adults. The act of leaving the table and searching for the matzoh represents the Israelites coming out of Egypt and searching for freedom; the finding of the afikomen in exchange for a prize represents finding redemption and, in exchange, receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Searching for the afikomen is also a very spiritual part of the Seder. In contrast with the strict order of the preparation and dinner, we can go and search for the afikomen without any rules or regulations. (Well, some rules: no tipping furniture, going in bedrooms or breaking anything!) It is up to us as individuals -- or a group -- to find the afikomen, relying only on our instincts and faith that we will achieve our goal.

[Leader: Collect the afikomen and distribute pieces to all guests.]

Leader says: "Afikomen" means "dessert."  In ancient times, the paschal lamb was the last food to be eaten. It its place, we now partake in this piece of Afikomen, with which our meal is completed. 

[Everyone: Eat the piece of matzoh.]

Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
Giving Thanks for Our Meal

We now say grace after the meal, giving thanks for the food we’ve eaten:

Leader: Baruch atah adonai, elohenu melech ha-olam. boray, p'ree ha-gafen

Group says: W e give thanks to the force that gives us and the earth its sustenance. May it grant peace to us and the entire world.

Source : Adapted from
Cup #4: The Cup of Restoration

As we come to the end of the Seder, we drink a cup of wine to give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together.

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

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

Blessed is the force that creates the fruit of the vine.

[Everyone: Drink the fourth glass of wine.]

Source :

At this point in the Seder, traditional Jews would open the door and literally shout angry words at their enemies: " Sh'foch ha-Matcha... May God pour out His wrath on them!" It was directed toward those who had persecuted them and had accused the Jewish community of a blood libel -- of making matzoh with the blood of Christian children. Opening the door at this juncture gave the Jewish family the excuse to open the door to show that there was nothing sinister happening at the Seder.

Tonight we are beyond this, for we sit together, Jew and extended family. We sit around one table with an open door and an outstretched hand. We welcome those who journey from other faiths -- or no faith at all -- to sit in peace and acceptance.

Tonight, we take all the pain from our journey, all the pain that men, women and children -- whether they be a Jew, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Humanist or Atheist -- has endured throughout the ages, and bring it into a healing place of love, respect and forgiveness. With forgiveness for what is past, we move forward in the spirit and energy of creating positive change in our future. Let us acknowledge our grief, mourn for what has been, release the past, and move powerfully forward from a place of love for our families, our communities, our planet, and all humanity.

Source : Adapted from Lauren Plattman and "Gates of Freedom" Haggadah
Cup #5: Elijah's Cup (a.k.a. The Cup of Hope)

The Seder tradition involves pouring a cup for the Hebrew prophet Elijah. In the Bible, Elijah was a fierce defender of God to a disbelieving people. At the end of his life, rather than dying, he was whisked away to heaven.

Tradition holds that he will return in advance of messianic days to herald a new era of peace, so we set a place for Elijah at many joyous, hopeful Jewish occasions, such as a baby’s bris and the Passover Seder. For millennia, Jews opened the door for him, inviting him join their Seders, hoping that he would bring with him a messiah to save the world.

Yet the tasks of saving the world - once ascribed to prophets, messiahs and gods - must be taken up by us mere mortals, by common people with shared goals. Working together for progressive change, we can bring about the improvement of the world. For justice and for peace, we can and we must.

Let us now symbolically open the door of our Seder to invite in all people of good will and all those in need to work together with us for a better world. Let us raise our cup as we dedicate ourselves to tikkun olam, the improvement of the world.

[Leader: Open the door.]

Leader says: The world is far from redemption. Pain, injustice, denial of love: since the beginning, humanity has known many degredations. In every generation, there are those who seek to destroy what the world has overcome.

Group says: There has been enslavement and exile. There have been explusions and ghettos and inquisitions. There have been concentration camps.

Leader says: But we were saved. Our story, we have said, begins with degredation and ends with glory. From within and outside of our walls, both Jewish and Non-Jewish alike, martyrs came forth with deeds of justice, love and truth.

Group says: We shall remember. We shall not forget.

Leader says: The world has seen many glories: There have been marriages and children, work and rest, love and laughter. But full glory for all is still far from sight. Ignorance, prejudice, hatred; contempt for truth and justice; hunger and terror; war and the fear of war: these remain a plague to the human race. To end these plagues, we summon Elijah, and we will call him by our deeds.

Group says: Elijah, the herald of reconciliation, who challenged power with the question of justice.

Leader says: And when he comes, the promise of love, peace and freedom will be fulfilled. To the repair of the world.

Everyone says: "L' Tikkun Olam!"

[Everyone: Drink fifth glass of wine.]

Source : Compilation
Until Next Year...

As our Seder draws to a close, this Haggadah declares a final reminder to you that this Pesach heralds the beginning of a change for each of us. Our eyes are open to the injustices and oppression that fills the world, and the responsibility that our freedom demands of us, and it is now up to each of us how we use this knowledge. Will we choose to forget or will we choose to act? The ball is in your court, and I invite each of you to be partners. Let's change the world together.

Everyone: May slavery give way to freedom. May hate give way to love. May ignorance give way to wisdom. May despair give way to hope. Next year, at this time, may everyone, everywhere, be free!

Source : Adapted from
You Made It!

Nirtzah marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we traditionally declare, “Next year in Jerusalem!” For some people, the recitation of this phrase expresses the anticipation of rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem and the return of the Messiah. For others, it is an affirmation of hope and of connectedness with Klal Yisrael, the whole of the Jewish community. Still others yearn for peace in Israel and for all those living in the Diaspora.

No matter the reason you say it, this moment also marks a beginning: We are beginning the next season with a renewed awareness of the freedoms we enjoy and the obstacles we must still confront. Having retold stories of the Jewish people, recalled historic movements of liberation, and reflected on the struggles people still face for freedom and equality, we are ready to embark on a year that we hope will bring positive change in the world and freedom to people everywhere.

In The Leader's Guide to the Family Participation Haggadah: A Different Night, Rabbi David Hartman writes: “Passover is the night for reckless dreams; for visions about what a human being can be, what society can be, what people can be, what history may become.”

And now, our seder is over. As we had the pleasure to gather for a Seder this year, we hope to once again have the opportunity in the years to come. And together we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim

Next year in Jerusalem!

Commentary / Readings
Source : The Huffington Post

By Rabbi Marc Schneier and Russell Simmons, president and chairman respectively of the New York-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, founded in 1989. Edits by Brandi Thompson Ullian. Courtesy of Huffington Post.

At the Passover Seder, when we recall the tale of the Ten Plagues visited upon the ancient Egyptians in the Bible, it is important to remember that not all of the plagues manifested themselves in the form of physical afflictions. Rabbinic sages explain that the ninth plague -- the plague of Darkness -- did not represent an actual darkening of the sky, but rather a darkness of the heart, a communal blindness, a plague which has afflicted human societies from time immemorial.

Exodus 10:23 states, "They saw not one another" -- meaning the ancient Egyptians were blind to each other's needs, and that their gross insensitivity and inhumanity in relation to the suffering of the Hebrew slaves living among them ultimately led to the breakdown of Egyptian society. This biblical narrative of Passover has long inspired men and women of all faiths and nationalities to recognize the inherent justice of the struggles of oppressed people of other backgrounds, and to make those struggles their own.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, championed this ideal in his rhetoric and actions. Dr. King understood that those who fight for their own rights are most honorable when they fight for the rights of all people. While Dr. King's primary focus was certainly on the freedom struggle of his own African American community, he championed the needs of people of all faiths and backgrounds, including those of the Jewish community. Dr. King felt an abiding kinship with the Jewish people and found a special symbolism in Jewish history -- especially in the Passover Exodus narrative of the ancient Hebrews from slavery in Egypt -- which he understood to have deep parallels to the African-American struggle for liberation. American Jews strongly reciprocated the sentiment; there was no segment of American society which provided more consistent support to the black community as did the Jewish community.

The ancient Egyptians failed the test they faced in Exodus. They were unable to grasp that being fully human means the capacity to feel and display empathy toward people of diverse backgrounds, faiths and ethnicities; people with who we may strongly disagree. In our modern era, the open question remains: How will we, as an ever-more diverse and often fractious nation, avoid the fate of the ancient Egyptians, and instead succeed in responding to the challenge of the ninth plague? If we hope to realize the dreams and ideals of democracy, if we hope to forge a more perfect union, we will have to learn to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of others across racial, ethnic and religious lines. The changing face of the world demands that we make each others' oppression our very own oppression.

If we as a society wish to avoid the devastating consequences of the ninth plague, we must say a collective "no" to the shameful campaign to stigmatize and scapegoat those who are different from ourselves. By taking this unequivocal stand, we re-affirm the historic lesson of the Passover season: that each and every person is worthy of human rights and liberties, regardless of background, and is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. Certainly, the Jewish and African-American communities, which have stood by each other for decades in good times and bad alike, will be vigilant in fighting side-by-side for the rights of our brothers and sisters, no matter their race, religion, gender, sexuality or creed.

The Passover festival challenges us to see one another as full and equal human beings and, by doing so, to free ourselves from the shackles of indifference and to break the chains of prejudice. Let us celebrate this timeless message of Passover by keeping aglow the light of understanding in a society too often darkened by prejudice and bigotry.

Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
Dayenu: It Would Have Been Enough

Singing "Dayenu" is a much-loved tradition at the Passover Seder. We recognize all the things that God gave the Israelites throughout their exodus and journey in the desert, and respond with the phrase "Dayenu," meaning "it would have been enough." But even those who don't believe in a supernatural God can still sing "Dayenu" honestly.

"Dayenu" is a song all about appreciating what we have and what we’ve been given. It is easy to get lost in the great lists of things we don’t have and the demands we are always fighting for. However, we should take stock of what we do have and appreciate those gifts, because it's possible we could have much less or nothing at all.

If I had only one pair of shoes and not two, dayenu! If I had a tiny apartment and not a house, dayenu! If I had a only two meals a day to eat and not three, dayenu!

The traditional "Dayenu" recounts everything the Israelites were thankful for as they left Egypt. The message is that just one of these events that led to their freedom, "it would have been enough." We'll only sing a few of the verses, but you can read the translated text of the full song below.


Ilu ho-tsi, ho-tsi-a-nu, Ho-tsi-anu mi-Mitz-ra-yim Ho-tsi-anu mi-Mitz-ra-yim Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been taken out of Egypt, it would've been enough!)

Chorus: Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-da-ye-nu, Da-ye-nu Da-ye-nu

Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-Sha-bat, Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough!)


Ilu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, Na-tan la-nu et-ha-To-rah, Da-ye-nu! (Had we not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough!)


Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would've been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would've been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would've been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would've been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would've been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would've been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

Source : Adaptation by Brandi Ullian
Who Knows One?

Who knows one? I know one!

One is Hashem, one is Hashem, one is Hashem!

In the heaven and the earth, ah, ooh ah ah,

I say ooh, ah, ooh ah ah

Who knows two? I know two!

Two are the tablets that Moses brought,

And one is Hashem, one is Hashem, one is Hashem,

In the heaven and the earth, ah, ooh ah ah,

I say ooh, ah, ooh ah ah

(Repeat with the following:)

Three are the Papas

Four are the Mommas

Five are the books of the Torah (clap)

Six are the books of the Mishna ( written version of the Jewish oral law) (clap)

Seven are the days of the week (clap,clap)

Eight are the days before a Bris (circumcision) (clap)

Nine are the months before a baby is born (clap)

Ten are the commandments (hands in the air for this one!)

Eleven are the stars in Joseph’s dream

Twelve are the tribes of Israel

Thirteen are the ways Hashem is good

Source : Adapted by Brandi Ullian

(To the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!")

Take me out to the Seder, take me out to the crowd.

Feed me some soup with a matzah ball

I don't care for the parsley at all

And let's, root, root, root for the leader, that he will finish his spiel

Oh it's one, two, ten plagues you're out at the Seder meal!

Take me out to the Seder, take me out to the crowd.

Maror and matzah and charoset time

We'll get tipsy off four cups of wine

Oh let's root, root, root for Elijah, that he will soon reappear.

And we'll hope, hope, hope that we'll meet once again next year!

Source : various

to the tune of “Hey Jude”

Hey, Jews, don’t be afraid.

You were made to Escape Mitzrayim.

In Sinai, the Lord will help you to live

And He will give you all some mayim.

Hey, Jews, it’s time to start.

God will part all The Red Sea waters.

Remember, pack matzah and be real brave.

God’s gonna save your sons and daughters.

The Lord will free you from your pain,

The whip, the chain. Have faith,

and you’ll all be happy later.

Hey, Jews, your tales from days of old will all be told

By all your descendants at their seder.

Da da da da da Da da da da.

Hey, Jews, don’t be afraid.

You were made to

Escape Mitzrayim. I

n Sinai, the Lord will help you to live

And He will give you all some mayim

Mayim, mayim, mayim, mayim, mayim, mayim, wooow!

Da da da da da da da Da da da da

Hey, Jews



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:

Source : Irvine SobelmanJenny Sobelman & Martha Ackelsberg

(to the tune of “I Could Have Danced All Night”)

I could have eaten more,
I could have eaten more,
but it’s afikomen time.

The Seder rituals
and all those victuals,
the evening was sublime.

I had my matzo with charoset
and matzo dipped in chocolate too.

I drank down all my wine
and now I’m feeling fine.
How good to share this meal with you!