Preview is being generated. Please wait .....
Introduction

Passover is a holiday of community and remembrance. As we reflect on the Jewish Exodus, we hold space for those fleeing persecution, violence, and unstable living conditions today. We acknowledge the ground beneath our feet as occupied Native territory, and mourn the construction of walls built to separate families from one another. This meal is held in memory of not only the Jewish people who were freed from enslavement, but all those who have been marginalized and made to feel unsafe in their place of origin. We understand that oppression is not a relic of the past, and hope that this gathering will invigorate our sense of social obligation as Jews and people of conscience to make the world more welcoming to the stranger.

Written by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler 

Introduction

To begin the Seder, we light candles and say a blessing to demarcate our transition into sacred time. 

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with laws and commanded us to light the festival lights.

Kadesh

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.

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!

Urchatz

Water is life. 

For those who travel on foot through the borderlands, water is an essential component of the journey. No More Deaths hikes water into active migration corridors because we believe that everyone deserves access to water. It is a privilege to be able to use water for a ritual like urchatz, and as we purify our hands, we think of those who thirst in the desert. 

We wash our hands now, with no blessing, to help us prepare for the rituals of the Seder to come. 

Take the water, pour it over your hands three times, alternating between hands with each pour. 

Pause and give thanks for ready access to clean, safe water, and share amongst your group what symbolism you see in spilling water tonight. 

Written by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler 

Karpas

To those unfamiliar with the terrain, the desert can seem like a harsh and empty place. Indeed, the desert of the Passover story is devoid of sustenance and life. At this point in the Seder, it is tradition to reflect on liberation and rebirth as connected ideas. To symbolize rebirth, we take a vegetable, like parsley, and dip it into salt water, which represents the tears shed by our Jewish ancestors when they were enslaved. Mixing the sweet and the bitter remind us that in times of joy, it is important to remember where we came from. Similarly, as we embark on this Seder, with the promise of a nourishing meal ahead, we take a moment to reflect on those going without food as they seek a better life. Though the Jewish people may have left Egypt, many people around the world are still waiting to be freed. 

We recite this short blessing, then dip our parsley. 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

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

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruits of the earth.

Written by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler 

Yachatz

There are three pieces of matzo bread on the table in front of us. We will now break the middle matzo into two pieces—the larger of which should be wrapped up and hidden. This is the afikomen

We eat matzo, as opposed to leavened bread, on Passover, to remember that our ancestors did not have enough time to wait for bread to rise while waiting on Pharoah’s word regarding their freedom.

Lift the three pieces of matzo into the air, and recite: This is the bread of affliction, that our people ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are need, come and celebrate this Passover with us. 

Read aloud: 

"The Lord's Prayer From Guatamala" by Julia Esquivel 

Give us this day our daily bread:

the bread of freedom to associate and organize,

the bread of being able to be at home and walk the streets without being abducted,

the bread of not having to search for a place to hide,

the bread of going into the streets without seeing machine guns,

the bread of equality, the bread of happiness.

Let the bread of your work and the bread of education come into our huts, stalks and straw, into our cardboard shacks, and let us carry them in our knapsacks as we travel through life.

The bread of land titles for all campesinos and peasants,

the bread of milk for all children under two years of age who suffer malnutrition and hunger,

the bread of medical assistance for those in the countryside,

the bread of land for the thousands of landless campesinos.

Amen.

-Contributed and assembled by Julian Cranberg 
 

Maggid - Beginning

Pour the second glass of wine. 

We are now going to begin to tell the story of Passover. Haggadot do not do this in a traditionally linear way—we learn about the events that took place through song and stories.

-- Four Questions

It is customary at a Seder to have the youngest member of the Seder recite the four questions. Please include the chanting of the traditional questions in Hebrew here if you would like. We would like to ask four new questions instead: 

  • What role does Identity play in the Borderlands?  
  • What is Neoliberalism both in the Borderlands and abroad?  
  • How is the Law wielded and manipulated in the Borderlands?  
  • What does Citizenship mean in the Borderlands and around the globe? 

What is Identity in the Borderlands? 

When considering identity we must understand the concept of Intersectionality. 

“My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restrictions of externally imposed definition.”Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”, Sister Outsider 

Our working definition of intersectionality is: “The acknowledgement that multiple systems of oppression can be at play in a single act of discrimination, oppression, or subordination.” Moreover, one type of oppression cannot be independent of another; all forms of oppression are always intersecting, communicating, and becoming redefined. 

We also must understand the systems at play, the –isms that shape intersectional oppression. Again, we defer to Audre Lorde: 

“Racism, the belief in the inherent superiority of one race over all others and thereby the right to dominance. Sexism, the belief in the inherent superiority of one sex over the other and thereby the right to dominance. Ageism. Heterosexism. Elitism. Classism. [Cisism. Ableism.]”Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”, Sister Outsider

What is identity in the Borderlands? There are many different folks who call the Borderlands home. There is a border here – sometimes physical, sometimes conceptual – but the roots of the people and culture run far older and deeper. There are Mexicanos. There are Americans. There are Estadounidenses. There are Chicanxs. There are indigenous peoples like the Tohono O’odham. There are indigenous peoples from México and Centroamérica. There are workers, politicians, volunteers, sisters, priests, government officials. There are farmers, handypeople, construction workers, electricians, students, cooks. There are Spanish speakers, English speakers, Tzotzil speakers, Quiche speakers, Papago speakers. We are all invited to add to this endless list. In the Borderlands, as with everywhere, each person is unique. We are reminded that we need to be conscious labelling someone as a part of a certain cultural, racial, ethnic, sex-based, gender-based, age- based, ability-based, etc. group. 

“Ambos Nogales” 

Sonoran strange, just who do you think we are? 

Nos toman por hijos de puta, 

nos(otros), hijos de la frontera. 

The people assumed to be Mexicans 

who aren’t always Mexicans. The people assumed to be white 

and might not be white people. 

The Mexicans who don’t speak Spanish 

and the Mormons who do. The Mexicans with their paper, que se sienten superiors. 

United Statesians without passports, not worth the trouble. 

The Chicano speaking Spanish on cellphone in his Border Patrol uniform at the freeway checkpoint. 

The gringo foreign exchange student 

who feels más mexicano que la chingada y que ha aprendido bien que no hay nada más mexicano que la chingada. 

The native teenager riding the Yo-Yo in Sells, 

Tohono O’odham Nation, Rodeo and Fair; feeling herself spin around the horizon and the horizon spinning inside her. 

The high school kids playing with their kids after school at their mom’s house. 

Los chiapanecos chambeando en el norte Snowbirds sunning in the south. 

Sonoran strange, such as it is, one man’s norte is another man’s sur. La puta de uno es la madre de otro. 

Sonorizona. La rumerosa, la maquila, Barrio Heavy, Barrio Libre. 

The border used to be main street, Nogales, 

now it’s concrete poured into pipe dreams. 

First they built the wall of rusted military metal, 

old landing strips used in the first Gulf War. 

(Then the torches spoke acetylene angles, 

bundles passed through kilo-shaped holes.) 

(Show me a fifty-foot wall, 

and I’ll show you a fifty-one foot ladder.) 

Then they built a virtual fence of military contracts. 

Motion-sensing cameras caught raindrops migrating from the monsoon, sin permiso. 

The border wall, now a series of columns, 

a set of ideas, made to feel permanent. 

Sonorizona. Las prostis, los pochos y las puestas del sol. 

The nomadic truckers waiting for free trade, 

folding pesos into paper airplanes, watching them fly through La Mariposa; 

the drivers less free than the cargo they carry. 

Sonoran strange, all things being unequal, 

we’re more ourselves on the edges, wearing our hearts on the outskirts and holding the hollow inside us. 

The miners, out of work, 

digging international tunnels, tunnels with air conditioning and telephones. 

In Nogales they say a drug tunnel 

is busted every other day. 

In Nogales they say one day the centro 

will collapse into all these empty veins. 

So much more to us 

than seen on the surface, 

sonoran strange 

just who do we think we are? 

from “Sonoran Strange” by Logan Phillips of Tucson, 2015 

What is Neoliberalism in the Borderlands? 

As described by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnaldo Garcia: 

“It is governed by the Rule of the Market: free enterprise reigns supreme, it aims to eliminate government influence, and prioritizes deregulation of all commercial exploits. At the same time, it focuses on cutting social services such as education, health, infrastructure, and welfare. - It assumes an unlimited supply of resources and an unfettered global capacity for progress. - Privatization and concentration of wealth is key, even if this comes at a higher cost to public. - It promotes the idea of individuality – the eradication of a common wealth and shared community – and cultivates a culture of fear and competition.” Adapted from Elizabeth Martinez and Arnaldo Garcia, “What is neoliberalism? A Brief Definition for Activists”

In other words, “Neoliberalism means neo-colonialization.” In the context of the Borderlands, Neoliberalism means maquila construction and the mass employment of disposable Mexican labor in return for cheap or no pay and long hours. It means transcontinental superhighways and the free flow of consumer goods over borders while it becomes harder and harder for human beings to cross borders. It means “vicious cycles of debt, deportation, and detention” for many who have tried to cross the border into the US to alleviate the strain of poverty on their families or to escape unimaginable violence. It means the political, social, and systematic prioritization of money over the lives of human beings. 

We are moved to consider the consequences of the Neoliberal system on the entire planet. We assert the opposite of what Donald Trump claims when he says “The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico[‘s problems], and, in fact, for many other parts of the world,” and that, in fact, the world has become a dumping ground for the garbage, chemical waste, environmental destruction, and externalities – such as cheap labor, inadequate healthcare and education, and oppression – generated by the countries that represent the interests of the hegemonic elite. We consider our Zapatista compa’s outlook on progress: “Bueno vs. mejor”, and how the illusion of unencumbered capacity for development has informed our life paths. We consider the tenet of ‘the image of the limited good’: that “there is a fixed amount of those things that provide satisfaction in the world, and that if one person has a great deal of those things, others will have less,” (The Death of Ramon González, Angus Wright, page 164). We are drawn to consider how we are complicit in these systems and how we, in our future, will strive to work against them and the negative impacts in which they result. 

What is Law in the Borderlands? 

Law is a way of maintaining order in a society. Law is also a way of preserving the rights of the hegemon and is often used to oppress those outside the hegemon for their financial or social benefit. In the Borderlands, Law is used to systematically criminalize and murder migrants who come to the US seeking a better life. Referenced here are Jeff McWhorter’s four pillars of Border Imperialism as they relate to the US-México Borderlands: 

  1. Displacement of peoples and families along with physically secured borders, watched over by the Border Patrol military force and physically partitioned by iron walls, cameras, motion sensors, drone technology, etc. 
  2.  Criminalization of migration and a network of detention centers and prisons that systematically deny people their human rights and are presented as a method of deterrence, just like how Border Patrol also justifies chasing migrants to their deaths in the desert as deterrence. –
  3. Racialized hierarchies that target people of color for merely being present in spaces; one example being SB1070, a law that permits police officers to profile and approach any person of color and demand that they furnish legal documents of identification, and encourages cooperation between local police and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona. 
  4. Labor precarity that keeps laborers scared of losing their jobs and thus prohibits them from organizing lest they risk being fired. Such labor is made up of banal tasks that can be done by any person and don’t require so much skill that individual workers have value to an employer. 

We are encouraged to examine the following quotes and discuss how they relate to Law in the Borderlands: 

“People usually do not resort to risky and desperate moves unless they have nothing left to lose.” –Alex Knight 

“Many migrate because they must; the journey and prospect of being labeled a criminal in the US pale in comparison to poverty or violence at home.” 

“People with felonies have families. People with criminal records have children. Working mothers and their children have been criminalized through gang databases. We are all family and friends.” 

We strive to understand and counteract our complicity in these systems. We are moved to challenge this rhetoric whenever we hear voices that claim that these systems are not at play. We call upon the governments of the US, México, and Centroamérica to take responsibility for the thousands of deaths on the borders between the US and México, and México and Guatemala (adapted from “Los Estados Unidos: La intervención en el aseguramiento de la region.” by Isabel Ball). 

What is Citizenship in the Borderlands? 

In our examination of citizenship, let us call upon the teachings of Hannah Arendt, a Jew critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and her insights into the refugee’s loss of political status and ‘the right to have rights’. ‘The right to have rights’ refers to the state of being that many refugees are in. Their rights are defined by their citizenship of a particular country. Once they become refugees in another country, the stipulations of those rights become decided by a powerful elite who, although presumably acting in the refugee’s interest, frequently prioritize forced assimilation to that country’s culture and the systematic oppression of those with viewpoints, cultural or religious expressions, and/or traditions that stand in stark contrast to the host country’s “de facto” homogeneity. Thus refugees lose the right to basic rights as human beings and are subjected to further oppression and marginalization through racialized, genderized, elitist legal systems. Arendt introduced ‘the right to have rights’ as a way of acknowledging that all humans have the inherent right to exist in this world, even if no sovereign nation is willing to grant them that right. 

Nanda Oudejans explores Arendt’s idea from the angle of asylum seekers. She highlights the common plight of refugees that: 

“de facto statelessness assumes that [they], at the end of the day, ought to be ‘there’, in their country of origin, not ‘here,’ in the country of asylum where they are non-nationals and do not belong,” (23). “Indeed, if refugees are deprived of place in the world, they are withheld ... ‘the power of place’,” (13).” We have a system where personhood is defined by place. Under this system, if you leave a specific place, you cease to be a person.” From “The Right to Have Rights as the Right to Asylum” by Nanda Oudejans

Omri Boehm, on the other hands, reminds us that “universality is a property of the set of all human beings, whereas the exclusive set of citizens is one to which the refugees do not belong.” (“Can Refugees Have Human Rights?” by Omri Boehm) 

As members of a society where we are considered ‘legal’ and therefore ‘allowed to be “here”’, we must be reminded that ‘illegal person’ is a new category, having only surfaced within the last fifty years. We acknowledge that “anti-immigrant [persecution] is one of the last forms of racism [in our society] that is deemed acceptable,” (“The Case for Open Immigration: A Q&A with Philippe Legrain”).We assert that there is no such thing as “an illegal human being” (“ningún ser humano es illegal”), and that people are not criminals because they seek a better life. We acknowledge that the category ‘criminal’ is a construct based on a legalized form of systematic oppression, as discussed by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow, used to marginalize migrants and people of color within the US. We refuse to accept the label of “criminal” as a basis for oppression, segregation, torture, or prolonged detention of any form. 

Researched and compiled by Julian Cranberg 

-- Four Children

It is traditional in a Passover Seder to discuss ‘the four children’, each of whom has a different outlook on what Pesach means to them. Please include the traditional four children here if you would like. In this Haggadah, we will present four questions about immigration frequently asked by those who are unfamiliar with the reality of the Borderlands and how we can address those questions. Traditionally, we answer the questions of the wise child, the wicked child, the simple child, and the child who does not know how to ask. For our Seder, we will treat these questions as questions from the ignorant and uninformed children. 

Why can’t they just stay home? 

David Bacon advocates “the right to stay home”: the right of all human beings to live in a place with adequate accessibility to food, water, shelter, healthcare, education, and social services (“The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration”, 2013). Many, however, have come to accept migration as the only solution for a livable life as a result of their exposure to extreme and unending poverty or horrific violence and the constant fear of assault, rape, or murder. Many come north from México and Centroamérica literally running for their lives from gang-related violence and extortion or from crippling poverty and economic suppression that has robbed them of their own means of subsistence. As Carlos García says, “We are refugees of climate change, the global economy, war and violence. We came here because we had no other option,” (“9 Phrases the Migrant Rights Movement Needs to Leave in 2015”, Puente Arizona). 

Why can’t they just enter legally? 

The legal immigration process in the United States of America is explicitly designed to restrict and make legal migration as difficult as possible. Even in credible fear cases where migrants are applying for asylum due to fatal gang violence that has directly targeted their close family, asylum is rarely approved by the immigration judge. Immigration cases, unlike US criminal cases or civil suits, do not involve a jury, and it is up to a judge’s sole discretion whether or not the defendant wins any temporary or permanent status in the US. Thomas Roepke of El Paso and Howard Rose of Houston, who both hear asylum cases, have an 100% denial-of-asylum rate, and many judges deny >90% of the cases they hear (“Judge-by-Judge Asylum Decisions in Immigration Courts FY 2007-2012”, Syracuse University, by way of Shalini Thomas of El Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project)

Even when you’re in the US already, acquiring a legal status can be even harder. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is currently processing applications for residency in the US from 1994. A woman who I lived with for a while told me that she has been waiting ten years for her residency application to go through. At any point she could be picked up and deported for not having “proper permission” to be in the US. Carlos García points out that “the immigration system was designed this way. Current immigration enforcement policies are an expansion of the rampant criminalization of people of color and serve to feed the mass incarceration beast, especially private prison companies which lobby for policies and laws that fill their coffers at the expense of our people,” (“9 Phrases the Migrant Rights Movement Needs to Leave in 2015”, Puente Arizona). 

Don’t illegal immigrants take “our” jobs and hurt the economy? 

“Undocumented immigrants pay taxes every time they buy gas, clothes or new appliances. They also contribute to property taxes—a main source of school funding—when they buy or rent a house, or rent an apartment. The U.S. Social Security Administration estimated that in 2013 undocumented immigrants—and their employers—paid $13 billion in payroll taxes alone for benefits they will never get. They can receive schooling and emergency medical care, but not welfare or food stamps.” “10 Myths About Immigration”, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2011 

As has been said many times, many undocumented folks do jobs that the vast majority of US citizens wouldn’t ever imagine doing: crop harvesting, livestock handling, landscaping, line-cooking, or construction. Philippe Legrain argues that, while migrants to the US are frequently employed, their presence also creates jobs. “They create jobs as they spend their wages because they create extra demand for people to produce the goods and services they consume; and they create jobs as they work, because they stimulate demand for complementary workers...thus, while the number of immigrants has risen over the past twenty years, [the US’s] unemployment rate has fallen,” (“The Case for Open Immigration: A Q&A with Philippe Legrain”). 

Isn’t this country of immigrants and built by immigrants? 

Carlos García has an excellent response to these questions: “The United States of America is a settler colonial nation that has been built upon the lands and the genocide of indigenous people...This country was built by the slavery of African people and the exploitation of oppressed people from across the world.” (“9 Phrases the Migrant Rights Movement Needs to Leave in 2015”, Puente Arizona)

Adapted and compiled by Julian Cranberg

-- Exodus Story

The symbols and the story of Passover reflect the struggle against injustice in the world. This holiday season, as we remember the story of our Jewish ancestors who fled the slavery of Egypt in search of a Promised Land, we call attention to those who are currently migrating from their homelands in search of that same promise. We stand with those migrating through the desert of the Borderlands, from poverty and violence toward hope and a more livable life. We walk with them in solidarity and feel their presence here at our table. 

Many migrants travel the migrant routes that traverse southern México. Plan Frontera Sur, an initiative of México funded largely with money from the US, manifests itself as a massive network of border controls, immigration checkpoints, and armed law enforcement officials. While migrants dodge this peril by escaping into the jungle to walk around checkpoints, they encounter routes overrun with the henchpeople of la mafia who spearhead the business of migrant extortion and kidnapping. All the while, they travel on the top of the infamous Beast: a freight train that they must hang onto with frozen and tired fingers or fall off of to certain death or amputation. They stay at migrant shelters or sleep on the side of the tracks by day and night, begging for food and eating at soup kitchens. After this months-long journey, some reach a city in the Borderlands and cross the treacherous desert or the swift Rio Grande/Bravo where, on top of the constant threat of extortion and kidnapping, they face the military might of the United States Border Patrol, who track them like prey with cameras, motion and heat sensors, mobile tracking trucks, drones, and even satellites. They are scattered into the desert by Border Patrol helicopters, to run for days in the wrong direction. They starve or perish of thirst by day and freeze by night, their bodies scattered across the Borderlands to go unidentified by the US Office of Medical Examiners or to decompose as they become food for local fauna. If found alive in the US, they are deported to México or by plane to their place of origin, and must, if necessary, begin their journey anew, now thousands of dollars in debt to la mafia or neoliberal robber barons. Or, they are detained for months, for simply presenting themselves at the border and asking for asylum; in Florence, Arizona, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in Lackawanna, Pennsylania; far from their families, and forced to pay a US phone company exorbitant rates to call home. This is the journey of the migrant in the Borderlands. This is a migration where no God is raining manna from the sky to sustain the migrants. This is a migration where the Egyptians did not cease their pursuit once their chariots perished in the Red Sea, where the migrants are being chased by ‘la mafia’, by their poverty, by their ‘legal’ status, by law enforcement both corrupt and upstanding in their actions as such actions relate to ‘the law’. 

“This is a story that is rarely told to the world. We are reminded that history is written in the interest of hegemonic power, and that, to be able to understand many different perspectives, we must acknowledge the “importance of individual and collective memory and of recovering voices from the margins, for themselves and for the historical record, and the power of historical narratives to ensure – or resist – social, cultural, and economic dominance.” adapted from La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City, Lydia R. Otero

“’Amnesia: the inability or unwillingness to recall due to trauma or enforced taboo.’ We don’t forget. As the Palestinians don’t forget the illegal and brutal occupation of their lands, supported by US funds and weaponry since 1987. As the Maya turned Zapatistas remember through armed struggle a forever- history as the original inhabitants of the territory of Chiapas. As the women of Afghanistan do not forget who trained the ‘terrorists’ whom the US now calls the ‘enemy.’ I remember.”-Foreword to 2001 edition of This Bridge Called My Back, Cherríe L. Moraga

Written by Julian Cranberg

-- Ten Plagues

Ten More Plagues 

When Pharaoh refused to free the ancient Israelites from their bondage, ten plagues were levied against the Egyptians. Blood, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, frogs, pestilence, wild animals, lice, and the death of firstborn sons threated to swallow Egypt whole. 

When each plague is recited, it is customary to take a drop of wine from our cup and drop it onto our plate, to remind ourselves that the freedom Israelites gained did not come without a price. 

For this Seder, we will focus on three plagues most relevant to the lens we are using to examine the Exodus. 

Blood – In Egypt, the River Nile ran with blood, and all the water in the jars in Egyptians’ homes turned to blood. The plague of blood is symbolic of the thirst of migrants as they cross the desert, and of the migrant blood that runs in the Rios Grande y Bravo. 

Darkness– In Egypt, the days turned into constant night. The darkness represents the months-long journey by night of many migrants. It represents the confusion of being lost in an unknown land and the times where it seems hope is impossible to find. 

Death of the firstborn– In Egypt, all first-born Egyptian sons were slaughtered. The death of the firstborn symbolizes the frequently forced recruitment of young boys into the violent gangs of México and Centroamérica and the perpetuation of violence, rape, and murder that these gangs and local law enforcement foster. 

Let us dip and recite: 

War

Torture

Poverty

 Racism

Sexism

Homophobia

Genocide

Religious Discrimination

Greed

Pollution 

Written by Julian Cranberg and Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler 

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

With this second cup of wine, we reflect on how we will strive to resist oppressive structures that perpetuate the border crisis. 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Drink the second glass of wine

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

On our Seder plate we find some the traditional items of a Seder. Each item has special significance in the context of the Borderlands. We also find some new and different items. Each of us will hold up each item as it is discussed. 

Matzah

“This is matzah, the bread of liberation, of rebellion, that our foremothers baked and ate in a time when they had to be organizing more and cooking less.” 

-from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Egg: 

“The egg is a symbol of springtime, fertility, and the giving of life. We are reminded of Pharaoh's threat to kill newborn Jewish babies, and of the courageous midwives who refused to carry out his orders.” 

-from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Paschal Yam: 

Tradition directs us to hold up a roasted lamb bone which is symbolic of the animals sacrificed during the exodus. Today, we have a Pascal Yam on the Seder plate, to acknowledge our ancient traditions as well as the mitzvah of caring for species other than our own, and the ethical and ecological concerns regarding the eating of meat. 

- adapted from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Maror

The maror represents the bitterness of slavery and oppression in all of its forms. 

- adapted from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Salt Water: 

The salt water represents the tears of all who have been or who are currently enslaved. 

- adapted from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Charoset is a mixture of apples, nuts, wine, and spices, or in some other Jewish cultures, dates, figs, apricots, prunes, or oranges, peanuts, and bananas, that are made into a paste. It symbolizes the mortar that our ancestors used to build pyramids. Our charoset tonight is made of apricots, dates, apples, cinnamon, and wine in the Sephardic tradition of my family. The sweet taste of the Charoyses also reminds us that in the bitterest times of slavery, people have always remembered the sweet taste of freedom. 

- adapted from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

Ear of corn: 

Since our Seder is not, in all respects, traditional, we have decided to also include mazorca, an ear of corn, on our Seder plate tonight. Although considered chametz, corn is eaten during Passover in the Sephardic tradition. More importantly, however, is the significance that corn holds for so many indigenous and migrant communities. It is intertwined with the land’s history and culture. 

Corn for Mexicanos in particular is central in the struggle for land rights. As discussed by Angus Wright, the 1917 Mexican constitution was radical in the rights it gave to farmers. It granted ejidos – communally-owned and communally-worked parcels of land– to many farmers. “Emiliano Zapata stood by the principle that the ‘land belongs to those who work it,’” (The Death of Ramon Gonzalez., page 151). 

However, with a growing capital interest in corn, agricultura Mexicana began to change. “...[the Mexican agricultural revolution was] able to reshape rural society in ways contrary to the initiatives for rural change that had been developing out of the social upheavals and conflicts...of the twentieth century in Mexico” (ibid., page 142). Corn moved from a subsistence food source to an extractable and exploitable resource which has been at the forefront of conflict after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the subsequent flooding of México with cheap, subsided, GMO corn from the Midwestern US. Many indigenous communities, such as the Zapatistas, have since taken up arms in resistance against the Mexican government and the neoliberal interests it represents, and are now in control of sovereign territory in Chiapas, México. 

We put an ear of corn on our Seder plate tonight to recognize its significance in the Borderlands and to stand in solidarity with all those who have been harmed by neoliberal colonialism. We stand with them in their resistance and their struggle for the right to their own subsistence. 

Written by Julian Cranberg 

Rachtzah

Before we begin the meal, we will eat charoset with maror, followed by a “sandwich” of matzah, charoset, and maror.

We turn to the Sephardic Passover Haggadah, written by Rabbi Benzion Uziel, for this ritual:

“The matsot were eaten after we left Egypt, and are therefore a symbol of freedom. The bitter herbs, maror, are eaten as a reminder of the slavery of Egypt. We eat both of them together to remind us that even at a time when we are in slavery, we should remember our freedom. It is our inner freedom which makes us free. Though we may be in exile, the Passover Seder reminds us to retain our inner freedom and our hope for ultimate redemption. We always find ourselves between exile and redemption. Each day redemption is possible. Exile and redemption are bound together. We must always be awake to the possibility of redemption, with a strong heart and proper spirit. We should not be afraid of oppressors because we have our inner freedom, and we are moving towards real redemption.”

The Passover Meal is Served 

Compiled by Julian Cranberg and Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

Tzafun

Take a moment to search for the  afikomen,  if it was hidden earlier.

It is customary during many Seders to spend time reflecting on hopes for the future, and moments of resilience and joy that have brought us to this current moment.

Here, we invite you to reflect with those around you on moments that have given you hope since the last Passover feast. 

Bareich

Now is a moment to reflect on the food we have just eaten, reminding ourselves that our plates were filled thanks to the often invisible efforts of those growing and cultivating produce. We fill a third glass of wine, and say:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

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

Drink the third glass of wine

Hallel

For the last time tonight, we fill our glasses with wine. 

Tonight, we think about those who are not here at the table because they are traveling through the borderlands. Our stomachs and hearts are full, while those crossing may not know where their next meal is coming from. 

It is customary to fill a glass of wine for Elijah, the prophet who will usher in a Messianic age for the Jewish people. Instead, we fill a glass of water, in honor of those who have walked thousands of miles, those who perish seeking justice, those whose bodies remain unclaimed at Medical Examiner’s offices, and those who live as undocumented people in the United States. 

As is traditional, we take a moment now to open our door, literally and metaphorically, to those who are strangers and hungry. 

Written by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler 

Nirtzah

We have reached the end of this year’s Passover journey and Seder. We have reflected on the realities of life in the borderlands, and committed ourselves to examining our lives and our privileges. 

It is traditional to exclaim “next year in Jerusalem!” to close the holiday. For this Seder, we will exclaim, “To a just future.”

Commentary / Readings

We offer a selection of readings to close the evening here: 

 “...People can be enslaved by poverty and inequality. When the fear of need drives them to dishonesty and violence, to defending the guilty and accusing the innocent – they are slaves. When the work men or women do enriches others, but leaves them in want of strong houses for shelter, nourishing food for themselves and for their children, and warm clothes to keep out the cold – they are slaves... 

How deeply these enslavements scar the world! The wars, the destruction, the suffering, the waste! Pesah calls us to be free, free from the tyranny of our own selves, free from the enslavement of poverty and inequality, free from the corroding hate that eats away the ties which unite humankind.” 

-adapted from The New Haggadah 

“Wherever we live we find oppression and injustice, but there really is a better place, a promised land, that we as individuals and as a community can see and feel in our heads and our hearts. The way to get from here to there is by joining together, working, marching, and sometimes stumbling, through the wilderness, watching this time not for signs and wonders, but for an opportunity to act. May the spirit of this festival of freedom remain with us throughout the coming year. May its teachings inspire us to work toward our vision of a better world.” 

- from Workmen’s Circle Seder, 2011 

“Together, with those around this Seder table and with our global family connected by our collective pursuit of justice, we pray: “Next year in a more just world.” And through our actions from this Passover to the next, let us make these dreams a reality. 

Peace in societies torn by war 

Freedom from bigotry and oppression 

Equality for minorities shunned by prejudice and hatred 

Respect for the aspirations and humanity of women and girls 

Acceptance for people persecuted for who they are or whom they love 

Sustenance for communities living in hunger 

A safe harbor for refugees and survivors of violence 

And the promise of dignity and human rights for all.” 

- American Jewish World Service Haggadah, 2016 

“As we bring this Seder to a close we pray that we may carry with us into daily life the message of freedom emphasized in its symbols and rituals. May the memories of this night inspire us to cast off our own shackles of intolerance, greed and hatred. May we here resolve to break the chains that fetter our minds and blind us to the glory, beauty and goodness which life offers in such abundance. 

Help us to realize that we cannot have freedom for ourselves unless we are willing to give it to others. Through our daily deeds and devotion, may each of us in our own way, help to liberate all who live in fear, poverty and oppression. May the light of freedom penetrate into all corners of the world, and lift the darkness of tyranny so that all may be free.” 

-Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action 

Compiled by Julian Cranberg

Commentary / Readings

This Haggadah represents the efforts of No More Deaths / No Más Muertes members who saw a relationship between work in the Borderlands and Jewish heritage. We hope you have enjoyed using this Haggadah, and encourage you to continue thinking about your experiences with migration through a local lens. There is not a town or city untouched by the border crisis in the United States: get involved with Sanctuary efforts in your hometown, lobby for legislation designed to protect undocumented people, and have conversations with your friends, family, and neighbors about governmental efforts to further militarize the border regions. 

If you are interested in the work No More Deaths / No Más Muertes does, please visit our website at nomoredeaths.org. You can reach our Media team at media@nomoredeaths.org. 

Special thanks to Julian Cranberg for graciously sharing excerpts from his Haggadah for the Borderlands, written while volunteering for No More Deaths / No Más Muertes in 2016. If you are interested in his full-length Haggadah, you can contact the No More Deaths / No Más Muertes Media team.