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Introduction

The seder officially begins with a physical act: lighting the candles.  In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to sacred time.  Lighting the candles is an important part of our Passover celebration because their flickering light reminds us of the importance of keeping the fragile flame of freedom alive in the world.

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.

As we light the festival candles, we acknowledge that as they brighten our Passover table, good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.

Introduction
Kadesh
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

All Jewish celebrations, from holidays to weddings, include wine as a symbol of our joy – not to mention a practical way to increase that joy. The seder starts with wine and then gives us three more opportunities to refill our cup and drink.

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.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who chose us from all peoples and languages, and sanctified us with commandments, and lovingly gave to us special times for happiness, holidays and this time of celebrating the Holiday of Matzah, the time of liberation, reading our sacred stories, and remembering the Exodus from Egypt. For you chose us and sanctified us among all peoples. And you have given us joyful holidays. We praise God, who sanctifies the people of Israel and the holidays.

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.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything,
who has kept us alive, raised us up, and brought us to this happy moment.

Drink the first glass of wine!

Kadesh
Source : Aviva Cantor, The Egalitarian Hagada
As we remember this struggle, we honor the midwives who were the first Jews to resist the Pharaoh.  our legends tell us that Pharaoh, behaving in a way common to oppressors, tried to get Jews to collaborate in murdering their own people.  He summoned the two chief midwives, Shifra and Pu'ah, and commanded them to kill newborn Jewish males at birth.  He threatened the midwives with death by fire if they failed to follow his commands.

But the midwives did not follow orders.  Instead of murdering the infants, they took special care of them and their mothers.  When Pharaoh asked them to account for all the living children, they made up the excuse that Jewish women gave birth too fast to summon midwives in time.

The midwives' acts of civil disobedience were the first stirrings of resistance among the Jewish slaves. The actions of the midwives gave the people courage both to withstand their oppression and to envision how to overcome it.  It became the forerunner of the later resistance.  Thus Shifra and Pu'ah were not only midwives to the children they delivered, but also to the entire Jewish nation, in its deliverance from slavery.

Kadesh

The Shehecheyanu is a prayer that Jews have been saying for over 2000 years to mark special occasions. Tonight, all of us here together is special occasion. Whether Jewish or not, we have come here under a shared belief that everyone is entitled to be free. We all believe that everyone is entitled to certain inalienable rights. We all believe that we must treat our brothers and sisters with common decency. That is special and meaningful.

To mark this special and meaningful occasion, we all join together in the words of the Shehecheyanu:

בָרוּךְ אַתָה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְמָנוּ

וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶה

Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam,

shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higiyanu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are you, Adonai, sovereign of all worlds, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.

Urchatz
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com
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 wash our hands twice during our seder: now, with no blessing, to get us ready for the rituals to come; and then again later, we’ll wash again with a blessing, preparing us for the meal, which Judaism thinks of as a ritual in itself. (The Jewish obsession with food is older than you thought!)

To wash your hands, you don’t need soap, but you do need a cup to pour water over your hands. Pour water on each of your hands three times, alternating between your hands. If the people around your table don’t want to get up to walk all the way over to the sink, you could pass a pitcher and a bowl around so everyone can wash at their seats… just be careful not to spill!

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.

Let's pause to consider what we hope to get out of our evening together tonight. Go around the table and share one hope or expectation you have for tonight's seder.

Urchatz
Source : original for the Haggadah

In washing our hands, we also think of those who don't get to share in the basic human right of abundant, clean water

of people deprived of water by the weather in Somalia, in India, in Texas

and those deprived of water by human action in places like Flint, Michigan

as well as those whose homes have been ravaged by wind and water in Colombia, in California, and here in New Jersey.

We wash our hands and accept our responsibilities to those threatened by the presence and absence of water

and pray that those with the human power to change things do not wash their hands of what the world needs them to correct.

Karpas
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Passover, like many of our holidays, combines the celebration of an event from our Jewish memory with a recognition of the cycles of nature. As we remember the liberation from Egypt, we also recognize the stirrings of spring and rebirth happening in the world around us. The symbols on our table bring together elements of both kinds of celebration.

We now take a vegetable, representing our joy at the dawning of spring after our long, cold winter. Most families use a green vegetable, such as parsley or celery, but some families from Eastern Europe have a tradition of using a boiled potato since greens were hard to come by at Passover time. Whatever symbol of spring and sustenance we’re using, we now dip it into salt water, a symbol of the tears our ancestors shed as slaves. Before we eat it, we recite a short blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

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

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

We look forward to spring and the reawakening of flowers and greenery. They haven’t been lost, just buried beneath the snow, getting ready for reappearance just when we most needed them.

-

We all have aspects of ourselves that sometimes get buried under the stresses of our busy lives. What has this winter taught us? What elements of our own lives do we hope to revive this spring?

Karpas
By Ronnie M. Horn 

Long before the struggle upward begins, there is tremor in the seed. Self-protection cracks, Roots reach down and grab hold. The seed swells, and tender shoots push up toward light. This is karpas: spring awakening growth. A force so tough it can break stone.

And why do we dip karpas into salt water?

To remember the sweat and tears of our ancestors in bondage.

To taste the bitter tears of our earth, unable to fully renew itself this spring because of our waste, neglect and greed.

To feel the sting of society's refusal to celebrate the blossoming of women's bodies and the full range of our capacity for love.

And why should salt water be touched by karpas?

To remind us that tears stop. Spring comes. And with it the potential for change.

Yachatz
Source : ellydoesart.tumblr.com

Quote from Harry Potter. Design by ellydoesart.tumblr.com
Yachatz
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

There are three pieces of matzah stacked on the table. We now break the middle matzah into two pieces. The host should wrap up the larger of the pieces and, at some point between now and the end of dinner, hide it. This piece is called the afikomen, literally “dessert” in Greek. After dinner, the guests will have to hunt for the afikomen in order to wrap up the meal… and win a prize.

We eat matzah in memory of the quick flight of our ancestors from Egypt. As slaves, they had faced many false starts before finally being let go. So 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 matzah.

Uncover and hold up the three pieces of matzah and say:

This is the bread of poverty which 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 we will be in Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free.

These days, matzah is a special food and we look forward to eating it on Passover. Imagine eating only matzah, or being one of the countless people around the world who don’t have enough to eat.

What does the symbol of matzah say to us about oppression in the world, both people literally enslaved and the many ways in which each of us is held down by forces beyond our control? How does this resonate with events happening now?

Yachatz
by HIAS
Source : www.hias.org/passover2017
The world’s refugee camps are some of the most desolate backdrops against which people fleeing violence and persecution rebuild their lives. The Akre Refugee Camp in Iraq, which houses hundreds of Syrian families, was built out of the remains of a former Saddam Hussein prison. The Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, one of the world’s most populous refugee camps, consists of endless rows of beige tents and caravans with almost no plant or animal life. Dust storms, heat, and blindingly bright sunlight make life unbearable for the more than 100,000 primarily Syrian residents. Without much structured activity or access to education, the thousands of children in these camps sit listlessly. Initiatives like the Za’atari Project and the Castle Art Project are changing this bleak reality. Through these projects, children paint vividly colored murals on the walls of their temporary homes. They begin to work through the trauma they have experienced and to articulate and depict their dreams in technicolor. These projects create a sense of camaraderie and community amongst the participants and even provide a venue for the volunteers who run them to provide informal classes on water conservation, camp hygiene, and conflict resolution, in addition to artistic techniques.
Maggid - Beginning
Source : Jewish Women's Theatre

Maggid - Beginning
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Pour the second glass of wine for everyone.

The Haggadah doesn’t tell the story of Passover in a linear fashion. We don’t hear of Moses being found by the daughter of Pharaoh – actually, we don’t hear much of Moses at all. Instead, we get an impressionistic collection of songs, images, and stories of both the Exodus from Egypt and from Passover celebrations through the centuries. Some say that minimizing the role of Moses keeps us focused on the miracles God performed for us. Others insist that we keep the focus on the role that every member of the community has in bringing about positive change.

Maggid - Beginning
Source : AJWS
By Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holzblatt

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”1 In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.

There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she 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 be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2

Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3

But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and the Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

1 Genesis 1:2 2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a 3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993, she is known as a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers, and separation between church and state.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt is a rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.. She is co-creator of two nationally recognized community engagement projects—MakomDC and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington.

-- Four Questions
Source : Design by Haggadot.com

-- Four Questions
Source : JewishBoston.com

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

מַה נִּשְׁתַּנָּה הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מִכָּל הַלֵּילות

Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol haleilot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכלין חָמֵץ וּמַצָּה  הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה כֻּלּוֹ מצה  

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

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

שֶׁבְּכָל הַלֵּילוֹת אָֽנוּ אוֹכְלִין שְׁאָר יְרָקוֹת הַלַּֽיְלָה הַזֶּה מָרוֹר

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the wise child say?

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

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

What does the wicked child say?

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

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

What does the simple child say?

The simple child asks, What is this?

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

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

Help this child ask.

Start telling the story:

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

-

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

-- Four Children

At Passover, we are confronted with the stories of our ancestors’ pursuit of liberation from oppression. Facing this mirror of history, how do we answer their challenge? How do we answer our children when they ask us how to pursue justice in our time?

What does the Activist Child ask?

“The Torah tells me, ‘Justice, justice shall you pursue,’ but how can I pursue justice?”

Empower him always to seek pathways to advocate for the vulnerable. As Proverbs teaches, “Speak up for the mute, for the rights of the unfortunate. Speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”

What does the Skeptical Child ask?

“How can I solve problems of such enormity?”

Encourage her by explaining that she need not solve the problems, she must only do what she is capable of doing. As we read in Pirke Avot, “It is not your responsibility to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

What does the Indifferent Child say?

“It’s not my responsibility.”

Persuade him that responsibility cannot be shirked. As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, “The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

And the Uninformed Child who does not know how to ask…

Prompt her to see herself as an inheritor of our people’s legacy. As it says in Deuteronomy, “You must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

At this season of liberation, join us in working for the liberation of all people. Let us respond to our children’s questions with action and justice.

-- Exodus Story
Source : From "Exogoge", by theatre dybbuk

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

Our story starts in ancient times, with Abraham, the first person to have the idea that maybe all those little statues his contemporaries worshiped as gods were just statues. The idea of one God, invisible and all-powerful, inspired him to leave his family and begin a new people in Canaan, the land that would one day bear his grandson Jacob’s adopted name, Israel.

God had made a promise to Abraham that his family would become a great nation, but this promise came with a frightening vision of the troubles along the way: “Your descendants will dwell for a time in a land that is not their own, and they will be enslaved and afflicted for four hundred years; however, I will punish the nation that enslaved them, and afterwards they shall leave with great wealth."

Raise the glass of wine and say:

וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה לַאֲבוֹתֵֽינוּ וְלָֽנוּ

V’hi she-amda l’avoteinu v’lanu.

This promise has sustained our ancestors and us.

For not only one enemy has risen against us to annihilate us, but in every generation there are those who rise against us. But God saves us from those who seek to harm us.

The glass of wine is put down.

In the years our ancestors lived in Egypt, our numbers grew, and soon the family of Jacob became the People of Israel. Pharaoh and the leaders of Egypt grew alarmed by this great nation growing within their borders, so they enslaved us. We were forced to perform hard labor, perhaps even building pyramids. The Egyptians feared that even as slaves, the Israelites might grow strong and rebel. So Pharaoh decreed that Israelite baby boys should be drowned, to prevent the Israelites from overthrowing those who had enslaved them.

But God heard the cries of the Israelites. And God brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with great awe, miraculous signs and wonders. God brought us out not by angel or messenger, but through God’s own intervention. 

-- Exodus Story
"A Not-So-Serious Passover Play for the Classroom or the Dining Room" by S. Mitchell

CHARACTERS: Slave Narrator, G_d (as a voice offstage), Moses, Aaron, Burning Bush, Pharoah

SLAVE NARRATOR: In Egypt we Hebrews had a difficult life. All day we worked under the whips of the taskmasters, making bricks and stacking them into giant pyramids, using nothing but our bare hands and a mixture of apples, raisins and nuts to bind the bricks together. We ate nothing but horseradish and drank only salt water. The only joy we had came from squeezing our fresh loaves of bread, which were soft and thick and light and fluffy as clouds. We had nothing to hope for. But little did we know that one of us, an escaped Hebrew who lived as a stranger in a foreign land of Midian, would soon return to us as our savior.

MOSES: Here sheep! Here sheep, sheep! Hey, come back! Don't make me chase you-- (Suddenly surprised at the sight of a burning bush.) Oh, my gosh!

MOSES: That little bush is on fire! (He dowses it.)

MOSES: But why aren't you burned, little bush?

G_D: Moses!

MOSES: Here I am.

G_D: Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place you stand on is holy ground.

Moses removes his shoes.

G_D: Moses! Whew! Stinky!

MOSES: Here I am!

G_D: Put your shoes back on, please.

MOSES: Who are you?

G_D: I am the G_d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher--

MOSES: What do you want from me?

G_D: I have heard the cry of the Hebrew slaves and I've come to rescue them, to lead them out of that land into a good land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Websites, Hippies, Trekkies, Yuppies, Muppets, Skittles, Ewoks--

MOSES: Get to the point...

G_D: Actually, you are going to do it.

MOSES: Do what?

G_D: You, Moses, will lead the Hebrews out of that land into a good land flowing with milk and honey, the country of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites--

MOSES: Who am I that I should lead the Israelites to freedom? What will they say when I tell them, "The G_d of your fathers has sent me to lead you"? If they ask, "What is His name?", what do I tell them?

G_D: Tell them, "I am who I am."

G_D: They'll believe you, Moses. Then go to the Pharoah and ask him to let you go on a three day's journey into the desert to offer sacrifices. If he says yes, which he won't, you'll go and you won't come back.

MOSES: Good plan. Do you think Pharoah will buy it?

G_D: No.

MOSES: What's Plan B?

G_D: Pharoah won't let your people go unless he is forced. So I will stretch out my hand and smite Egypt by doing all sorts of wondrous deeds there. Lots of people and animals will die.

MOSES: Couldn't you just make Pharoah say yes the first time?

G_D: I cannot. But perhaps Moses can convince him.

MOSES: How will I convince him? What if he doesn't believe me? I need some proof of your wondrous power.

G_D: Do you know any card tricks?

MOSES: No.

G_D: The nickel in the ear trick?

MOSES: No.

G_D: The rabbit from a hat?

MOSES: No.

G_D: Saw the lady in half?

MOSES: No.

G_D: Don't worry. You'll think of something. Now go!

SLAVE NARRATOR: So Moses came back to us, and before long, he and his brother Aaron paid Pharoah a visit.

Moses pushes Aaron ahead of him into Pharoah's room as Pharoah dresses himself. Aaron pushes back, then Moses pushes him forward again, and on and on.

PHAROAH (to the mirror): Today, I'm going to wear this hat. This is a good Pharoah hat. No, I'll wear this hat--this is better. Yes. No, no, this one, it's the best. OK. No, maybe this one is better.

Moses pushes Aaron into the room hard.

AARON: I'm going!

Pharoah turns around.

PHAROAH: Well, if it isn't the freakies who talk to the gods. I've heard of you both. You've got my slaves all riled up. Tell me. Is He planning to make it rain tomorrow?

AARON: Our G_d has called upon us to make a sacrifice to Them in the desert.

PHAROAH: How narcissistic of your god. I like it. So how did it go?

AARON: We haven't done it yet.

PHAROAH: Why not?

Aaron is silent. Moses whispers in his ear.

AARON: We have to do it in the desert.

PHAROAH: You live in the desert. Go into your backyard and make your sacrifice.

AARON: It's not that simple. Our G_d wants us to do it far away from here.

PHAROAH: Really.

AARON: Yes, sir. About a three day's walk.

PHAROAH: I see. So what I think I hear you saying is, you want to take all of my slaves out on a sort of field trip.

AARON: A holy sacrifice.

PHAROAH: Right, a holy sacrifice. In the desert.

AARON: Yes!

PHAROAH: Three days away from here.

AARON: Exactly!

PHAROAH: And I suppose you'll be needing to pack a few things.

AARON: Well...

PHAROAH: For your three-day hike in the desert.

AARON: Well, yes!

PHAROAH: So you can make it back here safe and healthy enough to pick up right where you left off.

AARON (excited): Absolutely, yes!

PHAROAH: OK.

AARON: Great! OK, then. We'll see you in a few days!

MOSES: You'll hardly miss us!

PHAROAH: Wait.

AARON: Sir?

PHAROAH: I'm assuming you have a Plan B?

AARON: Huh?

PHAROAH: In case I'm not the fool you think I am. You Hebrews are going nowhere.

SLAVE NARRATOR: G_d had indeed made Pharoah obstinate. He ordered the taskmasters to increase our work and punish us with greater cruelty. And though Moses and Aaron returned to him each day with various amazing feats to prove their holy authority, Pharoah simply ordered his own magicians to explain these tricks away.

MOSES: G_d, it's not working. We told him everything you said. We tried a few card tricks. We turned my staff into a snake. But nothing works. And the slaves--they think I'm only making things worse for them.

G_D: Yes, I expected this. It's time I showed them the awesome power of the Lord. It is time I smite Egypt with my wondrous deeds! Go back to Pharoah, lads, and warn him of my wrath.

SLAVE NARRATOR: So with G_d looking on, Moses and Aaron returned to Pharoah.

Pharoah is looking at himself in the mirror again, deciding on an impressive royal pose, changing his mind again and again, when Moses and Aaron approach.

PHAROAH: Boys, welcome back! Have any new tricks to show me?

AARON: Pharoah.

PHAROAH: Yes.

AARON: Let my people go.

PHAROAH: OK.

AARON: OK?

PHAROAH: No.

AARON: If you don't, you will witness the awesome power of the Lord.

PHAROAH: I see. Could you be more specific?

AARON: If you don't let the Hebrews go free, we will pack our things and lead them away. And when your taskmasters try to stop us, they will find themselves frozen, unable to move. And we'll walk right by them, smiling, laughing, and they won't even be able to blink. They'll be stuck, frozen like giant blocks of ice, and--

G_D: Stop!

Time stops. Pharoah, Aaron and Moses all stop moving and speaking.

G_D (anxious) : Moses, Moses!

MOSES: Here I am!

G_D: Tell Aaron I can't do that. I can't freeze people.

MOSES: Well, what can you do?

G_D: I will turn all their waters to blood.

MOSES: Ugh! I pass out at the sight of blood.

SLAVE NARRATOR: And so Egypt was colored red with blood. The fish in the river died, the Egyptians had to dig to find clean water to drink, and Moses was woozy for many days. After a week, G_d commanded Aaron to stretch his hand over the waters of Egypt and the country was overrun by frogs. This time, Pharoah sent for Moses and Aaron.

AARON: Now, Pharoah, you have seen the awesome power of the Lord!

PHAROAH: Yes, and the frogs were cute at first, I admit, but all the ribbeting is driving me crazy. Make them disappear and I'll let your people go.

Aaron and Moses turn to go.

PHAROAH: Wait!

AARON: Yes?

PHAROAH: Forget it. Can't leave.

AARON: If you don't let us go, the Lord will punish you even more severely.

PHAROAH: How?

AARON: How?

MOSES: How?

G_D: How?

AARON: Why, he'll make the ground beneath your soldiers' feet turn to glue, so when you try to follow us, their feet will get stuck, and then they'll reach down to free themselves and their hands will stick to their feet, and then they won't be able to do anything, and we'll laugh and laugh and--

G_D: Stop!

Time stops. Pharoah, Aaron and Moses all stop moving and speaking.

G_D: Moses, Moses!

MOSES: Here I am!

G_D: Tell Aaron I can't do that. I can't turn the ground into glue.

MOSES: Well, what can you do?

G_D: I'll, I'll, I'll turn the dust of the earth into little gnats, which will go "bzzzz" over the land!

SLAVE NARRATOR: And so the land and air were swarming with gnats. But Pharoah refused again. And then came flies. And the pestilence. And the boils. And again Pharoah called Moses and Aaron to his chambers.

Pharoah, stands in front of his mirror, his face covered with boils. He grimaces at his reflection as Moses and Aaron enter.

PHAROAH: Oh, thank G_d you're here. Make these things go away. I've tried everything. Facial masks, Buff Puffs, exfoliants, zinc supplements, hypnosis, feng shui, everything! Clear my complexion and I'll let you Israelites worship in the desert for FOUR days if you want to.

AARON: OK. We'll begin packing.

They turn to leave.

PHAROAH: Wait!

AARON: Yes?

PHAROAH: If I change my mind?

AARON: If you change your mind?

PHAROAH: What would happen?

AARON: Well, if you don't let us go, the Lord will rain down on you millions of little round balls, and when you try to chase after us, you'll slip and fall down. And you'll try to get up, and you'll slip and fall again, and we'll be laughing so hard--

G_D: Stop!

Time stops. Pharoah, Aaron and Moses all stop moving and speaking.

G_D: Moses, Moses!

MOSES: Just try it, G_d!

SLAVE NARRATOR: And so the Lord drowned the land in a downpour of hail, so fierce that every animal and plant was struck down and the crops were ruined. A plague of locusts followed. And then Pharoah called upon our heroes again.

PHAROAH: OK. I'm pretty sure I'm going to let your people go this time. But just supposing I don't?

AARON: If you don't let us go, your people will be blinded by darkness--

Aaron pauses and looks to Moses. Moses looks up to the heavens, but G_d is silent. Moses shrugs at Aaron.

AARON: And when they try to chase after us, they'll bump into each other and fall down and then get up and run the wrong way, and when you hear our giggling, you'll reach for us, but you'll only grab each other by accident!

MOSES: Can you do that, G_d?

G_D: Yes, I think I can do that one.

AARON: Alrighty then.

SLAVE NARRATOR: But Pharoah proved wishy-washy again. And Aaron and Moses promised Pharoah the worst plague of them all.

AARON: If you don't let us go, the Lord will make Hannukah last eight months instead of eight days, and every night our children will wander through the villages singing ( singing in an annoying voice), "I have a little dreidel, I made it out of clay, And when--"

PHAROAH: No!

G_D: Moses, Moses!

MOSES (exasperated) : What is it?!

G_D: I like the dreidel song.

MOSES: Then YOU think of something!

G_D: Mark your doorposts with the blood of a lamb.

MOSES: Not more blood!

G_D: The angel of death will pass over the homes that bear this mark. And take the living spirits of the first-born Egyptians.

SLAVE NARRATOR: And so it came to pass. And this time, not only did Pharoah give us permission to leave, but all of Egypt helped us pack and rushed us out toward the Red Sea.

Pharoah rushes Aaron and Moses as they pack their things.

PHAROAH: Here, I had my soldiers wrap up your bread!

AARON: But it hasn't had time to rise.

MOSES: And your rushing us leaves us no time to cook our ceremonial feast!

PHAROAH: You'll have to get it catered! Now get out of here!

Moses and Aaron leave.

PHAROAH: Wait!

No response.

PHAROAH: Wait! I think I might change my mind!

Still no response.

SLAVE NARRATOR: Pharaoh did change his mind, and he sent his people to hunt us down as we made our way toward the Red Sea. I think you know what happened next. Four hundred thirty years of oppression came to an end.

AARON: What are you talking about?! We're eating sandwiches of mortar on flat bread!

SLAVE NARRATOR: Stop complaining. ( He raises his arms in celebration. ) Next year in Jerusalem!

AARON: Yeah, right!

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

As we rejoice at our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that our freedom came at the cost of the Egyptians’ suffering, for we are all human beings made in the image of God. We pour out a drop of wine for each of the plagues as we recite them.

Dip a finger or a spoon into your wine glass for a drop for each plague.

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

Blood | dam | דָּם

Frogs | tzfardeiya |  צְפַרְדֵּֽעַ

Lice | kinim | כִּנִּים

Beasts | arov | עָרוֹב

Cattle disease | dever | דֶּֽבֶר

Boils | sh’chin | שְׁחִין

Hail | barad | בָּרָד

Locusts | arbeh | אַרְבֶּה

Darkness | choshech | חֹֽשֶׁךְ

Death of the Firstborn | makat b’chorot | מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת

The Egyptians needed ten plagues because after each one they were able to come up with excuses and explanations rather than change their behavior. Could we be making the same mistakes? Make up your own list. What are the plagues in your life? What are the plagues in our world today? What behaviors do we need to change to fix them? 

-- Ten Plagues
Source : JewishBoston.com with Rabbi Matthew Soffer

The Passover Haggadah recounts ten plagues that afflicted Egyptian society. In our tradition, Passover is the season in which we imagine our own lives within the story and the story within our lives. Accordingly, we turn our thoughts to the many plagues affecting our society today. Our journey from slavery to redemption is ongoing, demanding the work of our hearts and hands. Here are ten “modern plagues”:  

Homelessness

In any given year, about 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness, about a third of them children, according to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. A recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed the majority of major cities lack the capacity to shelter those in need and are forced to turn people away. We are reminded time and again in the Torah that the Exodus is a story about a wandering people, once suffering from enslavement, who, through God’s help, eventually find their way to their homeland. As we inherit this story, we affirm our commitment to pursue an end to homelessness.

Hunger

About 49 million Americans experience food insecurity, 16 million of them children. While living in a world blessed with more than enough food to ensure all of God’s children are well nourished, on Passover we declare, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” These are not empty words, but rather a heartfelt and age-old prayer to end the man-made plague of hunger.

Inequality

Access to affordable housing, quality health care, nutritious food and quality education is far from equal. The disparity between the privileged and the poor is growing, with opportunities for upward mobility still gravely limited. Maimonides taught, “Everyone in the house of Israel is obligated to study Torah, regardless of whether one is rich or poor, physically able or with a physical disability.” Unequal access to basic human needs, based on one’s real or perceived identity, like race, gender or disability, is a plague, antithetical to the inclusive spirit of the Jewish tradition.

Greed

In the Talmud, the sage Ben Zoma asks: “Who is wealthy? One who is happy with one’s lot.” These teachings evidence what we know in our conscience—a human propensity to desire more than we need, to want what is not ours and, at times, to allow this inclination to conquer us, leading to sin. Passover urges us against the plague of greed, toward an attitude of gratitude.

Discrimination and hatred

The Jewish people, as quintessential victims of hatred and discrimination, are especially sensitized to this plague in our own day and age. Today, half a century after the civil rights movement in the United States, we still are far from the actualization of the dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. articulated in Washington, D.C., a vision rooted in the message of our prophets. On Passover, we affirm our own identity as the once oppressed, and we refuse to stand idly by amid the plagues of discrimination and hatred.

Silence amid violence

Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. Each year, more than 108,000 Americans are shot intentionally or unintentionally in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, accidental shootings and by police intervention. One in five children has seen someone get shot. We do not adequately address violence in our society, including rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse, even though it happens every day within our own communities.

Environmental destruction

Humans actively destroy the environment through various forms of pollution, wastefulness, deforestation and widespread apathy toward improving our behaviors and detrimental civic policies. Rabbi Nachman of Brezlav taught, “If you believe you can destroy, you must believe you can repair.” Our precious world is in need of repair, now more than ever.

Stigma of mental illness

One in five Americans experiences mental illness in a given year. Even more alarming, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly two-thirds of people with a diagnosable mental illness do not seek treatment, and minority communities are the least likely to search for or have access to mental health resources. Social stigma toward those with mental illness is a widespread plague. Historically, people with mental health issues have suffered from severe discrimination and brutality, yet our society is increasingly equipped with the knowledge and resources to alleviate the plague of social stigma and offer critical support.

Ignoring refugees

We are living through the worst refugee crisis since the Holocaust. On this day, we remember that “we were foreigners in the land of Egypt,” and God liberated us for a reason: to love the stranger as ourselves. With the memory of generations upon generations of our ancestors living as refugees, we commit ourselves to safely and lovingly opening our hearts and our doors to all peace-loving refugees.

Powerlessness

When faced with these modern plagues, how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change? How often do we find ourselves powerless to transform the world as it is into the world as we know it should be, overflowing with justice and peace?

Written in collaboration with Rabbi Matthew Soffer of Temple Israel of Boston

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : http://beyonceder.tumblr.com

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

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

ּעֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ הָיִינו. עַתָּה בְּנֵי חוֹרִין  

Avadim hayinu hayinu. Ata b’nei chorin.

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

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

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

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

אִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָֽנוּ מִמִּצְרַֽיִם, דַּיֵּנוּ

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

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

אִלּוּ נָתַן לָֽנוּ אֶת־הַתּוֹרָה, דַּיֵּנוּ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu

We place an orange on the Seder plate to symbolize the sweetness of inclusion when women, the LGBT community, and all of the marginalized are welcomed in the equality to come to the table.

When we eat the orange, we spit out the seeds as we spit out prejudice and hate in all of its forms.

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

בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם

B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.

In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.

The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”

---

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.

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.

Drink the second glass of wine!

-- Cup #2 & Dayenu
Source : My Jewish Learning

What is a Miriam’s Cup?

A Miriam’s Cup is a new ritual object that is placed on the seder table beside the Cup of Elijah. Miriam’s Cup is filled with water. It serves as a symbol of Miriam’s Well, which was the source of water for the Israelites in the desert. Putting a Miriam’s Cup on your table is a way of making your seder more inclusive.

It is also a way of drawing attention to the importance of Miriam and the other women of the Exodus story, women who have sometimes been overlooked but about whom our 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).

There are many legends about Miriam’s well. It is said to have been a magical source of water that followed the Israelites for 40 years because of the merit of Miriam. The waters of this well were said to be healing and sustaining. Thus Miriam’s Cup is a symbol of all that sustains us through our own journeys, while Elijah’s Cup is a symbol of a future Messianic time.

This is the Cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters. Let us remember the Exodus from Egypt. These are the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness. Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place."

Miriam's cup should be passed around the table allowing each participant to pour a little water form their glass into Miriam's cup.  This symbolizes the support of notable Jewish women throughout our history which are often not spoken about during our times of remembrance. 

Rachtzah
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

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, recite this short blessing.

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 God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to wash our hands.

Rachtzah

In addition to the cup of wine for Elijah, many people today include a cup of water for Miriam, as we do tonight.

Miriam is Moses's older sister and a prophetess in her own right. As we, the Israelites are freed from bondage in Egypt, Miriam leads the women in dance after  crossing the Sea of Reeds. Her chant is recorded in the Torah, “Sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously. Horse and driver has he hurled into the sea” (Exodus 15:21).

Later, during the wanderings in the desert, a well of water follows Miriam.  In the words of Louis Ginzberg “Water…did not abandon them in all their forty years’ wandering, but accompanied them on all their marches. G-d wrought this great miracle for the merits of the prophetess Miriam, wherefore also it was called ‘Miriam’s Well’” ( The Legends of the Jews Vol.3).

The tradition of Miriam’s cup stems from this legend and acknowledges all the ways, physically and spiritually, that Miriam supports her people. It honors the spirit of all women, who nurture their families and communities. Now we will read Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's reflections on Miriam and other women in the Passover story: 

On Passover, Jews are commanded to tell the story of the Exodus and to see ourselves as having lived through that story, so that we may better learn how to live our lives today. The stories we tell our children shape what they believe to be possible—which is why at Passover, we must tell the stories of the women who played a crucial role in the Exodus narrative.

The Book of Exodus, much like the Book of Genesis, opens in pervasive darkness. Genesis describes the earth as “unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep.”1 In Exodus, darkness attends the accession of a new Pharaoh who feared the Israelites and so enslaved them. God alone lights the way out of the darkness in Genesis. But in Exodus, God has many partners, first among them, five brave women.

There is Yocheved, Moses’ mother, and Shifra and Puah, the famous midwives. Each defies Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite baby boys. And there is Miriam, Moses’ sister, about whom the following midrash is taught:

[When Miriam’s only brother was Aaron] she 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 be[come of] the latter part of her prophecy.”2

Finally, there is Pharaoh’s daughter Batya, who defies her own father and plucks baby Moses out of the Nile. The Midrash reminds us that Batya knew exactly what she doing:

When Pharaoh’s daughter’s handmaidens saw that she intended to rescue Moses, they attempted to dissuade her, and persuade her to heed her father. They said to her: “Our mistress, it is the way of the world that when a king issues a decree, it is not heeded by the entire world, but his children and the members of his household do observe it, and you wish to transgress your father’s decree?”3

But transgress she did.

These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day.

Retelling the heroic stories of Yocheved, Shifra, Puah, Miriam and Batya reminds our daughters that with vision and the courage to act, they can carry forward the tradition those intrepid women launched.

While there is much light in today’s world, there remains in our universe disheartening darkness, inhumanity spawned by ignorance and hate. We see horrific examples in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and Ukraine. The Passover story recalls to all of us—women and men—that with vision and action we can join hands with others of like mind, kindling lights along paths leading out of the terrifying darkness.

1 Genesis 1:2
2 Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 14a
3 Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12b

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993, she is known as a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers, and separation between church and state.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt is a rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.. She is co-creator of two nationally recognized community engagement projects—MakomDC and the Jewish Mindfulness Center of Washington.

Rachtzah
Source : JQ International GLBT Haggadah; John Perry Barlow's "25 Principles of Adult Behavior"

“Mitzrayim,” Hebrew for Egypt, literally means narrow straits. Judaic commentary has always viewed Mitzrayim as more than the literal escape from slavery, more than an escape from a place of narrow straits, an obviously accurate physical description of Egypt, but metaphorically the leaving behind or “exodus” from a narrow place – the place that squeezes the life out of the human soul and body. Mitzrayim is viewed as an intrinsically constrictive state; a state where we are unable to express ourselves and be free, to be who we are as we seek to define ourselves to others.

How will we bring, deliver, redeem and take ourselves out of the straits?

Be patient. 
Expand your sense of the possible.
Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
Understand humility.
Foster dignity.
Endure.

10 of the 25 "Principles of Adult Behavior" , by John Perry Barlow

Motzi-Matzah
Source : JewishBoston.com

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

The familiar hamotzi blessing marks the formal start of the meal. Because we are using matzah instead of bread, we add a blessing celebrating this mitzvah.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶֽחֶם מִן הָאָֽרֶץ

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha-aretz.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who brings bread from the land.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתַָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל אֲכִילַת מַצָּה

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al achilat matzah.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat matzah.

Distribute and eat the top and middle matzah for everyone to eat.

Motzi-Matzah
Source : The New American Haggadah

It is altogether proper that matzah is called the bread of affliction, because it has been afflicted more than any other foodstuff on earth. It is born in a searing-hot oven and then completely ignored for fifty-one weeks of the year while people walk around shamelessly eating leavened bread and crackers. Then, Passover rolls around, and it is smeared with various substances, ground up into balls, and, in the morning, fried up into a counterfeit version of French toast. Everyone eats it and nobody likes it, and there’s always one last box that sits untouched in a cupboard for months afterward, lonely, broken, and utterly unloved.

Of course it is practically impossible for free and fortunate people such as ourselves to envision a life of slavery, but as an exercise in imagining our ancestors, place a large square of matzah in your mouth and eat it. Listen to the cacophonous crunches in your ears like the blows of the slavedriver’s whip. Feel the searing dryness in your mouth like the thirst of the Hebrew slaves for freedom. And then, with your mouth full of matzah, try to say the Shema, and watch the particles of oppression scatter across the table. Slavery spreads like a spray of crumbs, and it is very difficult to rid ourselves of slavery’s great moral shame, which is why, even thousands of years after the Exodus, there are so many people enslaved, and why, even weeks after Passover, there are so many matzah crumbs in the house.

Maror
Source : JewishBoston.com

Dipping the bitter herb in sweet charoset | maror  |מָרוֹר   

  In creating a holiday about the joy of freedom, we turn the story of our bitter history into a sweet celebration. We recognize this by dipping our bitter herbs into the sweet charoset. We don’t totally eradicate the taste of the bitter with the taste of the sweet… but doesn’t the sweet mean more when it’s layered over the bitterness?

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, 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.

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who made us holy through obligations, commanding us to eat bitter herbs.

Maror
Source : The (unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah by Moshe Rosenberg

Harry Potter had much bitterness in his life. Deprived of his parents at a young age, his life at the Dursleys was miserable. At Hogwarts, through no fault of his own, he was the target of both students and teachers. And of course he was always in life threatening peril from the man who had killed his parents. If anyone had the right to feel embittered, it was Harry. And yet, he showed that you can experience bitterness without becoming embittered. You can take the lessons of your suffering and use them to appreciate your blessings and to spare others suffering. This is how we experience the bitter herb at Passover. We recognize the bitterness of our servitude, but as we are about to see, we use it as a prelude to sweetness and as a lesson to prevent others from suffering like we did.

Koreich
Source : JewishBoston.com

Eating a sandwich of matzah and bitter herb | koreich | כּוֹרֵךְ

When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the biggest ritual of them all was eating the lamb offered as the pesach or 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 matzah and bitter herbs. Some people will also include charoset in the sandwich to remind us that God’s kindness helped relieve the bitterness of slavery.

Shulchan Oreich
Source : JewishBoston.com

Eating the meal! | shulchan oreich | שֻׁלְחָן עוֹרֵךְ

Enjoy! But don’t forget when you’re done we’ve got a little more seder to go, including the final two cups of wine!

Shulchan Oreich
At a traditional seder, there is a cup of wine left on the table for the prophet Elijah. Toward the end of the night, the door is opened for Elijah, symbolizing that all are welcome at the seder, all can take refuge here.

In this spirit, consider symbolically setting aside a table setting or opening the door to the 60 million refugees and displaced people around the world still waiting to be free — for all those who deserve to be welcomed in not as strangers but as fellow human beings.

Tzafun
Source : JewishBoston.com

Finding and eating the Afikomen | tzafoon | צָפוּן

The playfulness of finding the afikomen reminds us that we balance our solemn memories of slavery with a joyous celebration of freedom. As we eat the afikomen, our last taste of matzah for the evening, we are grateful for moments of silliness and happiness in our lives.

Tzafun
Source : The New American Haggadah

The afikoman is the hostage of the Passover seder, having been ripped from its neighboring matzah, imprisoned in an obscure part of the house, and then traded fro some ransom just so it can be split up and devoured. Decent people will not participate in this saga of kidnapping and blackmail but rather fight against these foul crimes by excusing themselves from the table during the meal to disseminate counterfeit afikomans, a phrase which here means “hiding similar pieces of matzah all over the house.” Soon everyone will have found an afikoman, and negotiations will break down in a flurry of accusations and crumbs. Another word for this state of affairs is “freedom.”​

Bareich
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Refill everyone’s wine glass.

We now say grace after the meal, thanking God for the food we’ve eaten. On Passover, this becomes something like an extended toast to God, culminating with drinking our third glass of wine for the evening:

We praise God, Ruler of Everything, whose goodness sustains the world. You are the origin of love and compassion, the source of bread for all. Thanks to You, we need never lack for food; You provide food enough for everyone. We praise God, source of food for everyone.

As it says in the Torah: When you have eaten and are satisfied, give praise to your God who has given you this good earth. We praise God for the earth and for its sustenance.

Renew our spiritual center in our time. We praise God, who centers us.

May the source of peace grant peace to us, to the Jewish people, and to the entire world. Amen.

The Third Glass of Wine

The blessing over the meal is immediately followed by another blessing over the wine:

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.

Drink the third glass of wine!

Bareich

Now that we've reached the end of our meal, let's each take a moment to consider something that we're especially thankful for tonight and share our thankfuls with each other!

Hallel
Source : JewishBoston.com

Singing songs that praise God | hallel | הַלֵּל

This is the time set aside for singing. Some of us might sing traditional prayers from the Book of Psalms. Others take this moment for favorites like Chad Gadya & Who Knows One, which you can find in the appendix. To celebrate the theme of freedom, we might sing songs from the civil rights movement. Or perhaps your crazy Uncle Frank has some parody lyrics about Passover to the tunes from a musical. We’re at least three glasses of wine into the night, so just roll with it.

Fourth Glass of Wine

As we come to the end of the seder, we drink one more glass of wine. With this final cup, we give thanks for the experience of celebrating Passover together, for the traditions that help inform our daily lives and guide our actions and aspirations.

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.

Drink the fourth and final glass of wine! 

Hallel
Source : JewishBoston.com

The Cup of Elijah

We now refill our wine glasses one last time and open the front door to invite the prophet Elijah to join our seder.

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.

אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַנָּבִיא, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַתִּשְׁבִּיאֵלִיָּֽהוּ, אֵלִיָּֽהוּ,אֵלִיָּֽהוּ הַגִּלְעָדִי

בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵֽנוּ יָבוֹא אֵלֵֽינוּ

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

עִם מָשִֽׁיחַ בֶּן דָּוִד

Eliyahu hanavi
Eliyahu hatishbi
Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi
Bimheirah b’yameinu, yavo eileinu
Im mashiach ben-David,
Im mashiach ben-David

Elijah the prophet, the returning, the man of Gilad:
return to us speedily,
in our days with the messiah,
son of David.

Hallel
Source : adapted from The Refugee Crisis Haggadah by Repair the World

We are going to conclude our dinner tonight with a celebratory toast - a l’chaim.

Rather than filling our own cup tonight, though, and focusing on us as individuals, let’s fill someone else’s cup and recognize that, as a family and group of friends, we have the resources to help each other and those in our community if we are willing to share our resources and collaborate – whether those resources are time, money, skills, or any of the other gifts we bring to one another.

Many of us around the table may already share our resources in different ways - volunteering in our communities, providing pro bono services, donating to charities, or by advocating or lobbying officials. For others we may still be exploring the ways we’re hoping to share our resources and are looking for outlets to do so.

We are now going to fill our 4th cup of wine and I want to invite you to fill someone else’s cup instead of your own. As you fill someone else’s cup, let’s share with each other our answer to the following:

How can I help in changing the world?

Nirtzah
Source : The Wandering is Over Haggadah, JewishBoston.com

Nirtzah  marks the conclusion of the seder. Our bellies are full, we have had several glasses of wine, we have told stories and sung songs, and now it is time for the evening to come to a close. At the end of the seder, we honor the tradition of declaring, “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.

Though it comes at the end of the seder, 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. We are looking forward to the time that we gather together again. 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.”

What can  we  do to fulfill our reckless dreams? What will be our legacy for future generations?

Our seder is over, according to Jewish tradition and law. 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. We pray that God brings health and healing to Israel and all the people of the world, especially those impacted by natural tragedy and war. As we say…

לְשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה בִּירוּשָׁלָֽיִם

L’shana haba-ah biy’rushalayim

NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!

Nirtzah

When I think about how to live a good life, I think about our friend Alex Wexler.

Alex exemplified the idea of finding a sweetness to temper the bitter, a smile in the tears, and the growth inherent in any struggle.

Though he was devoted to Judaism, he used to joke that Julie Andrews was his higher power; that grace and kindness that she showed in her life, and the lessons abound in all of her iconic characters we as good as any jumble of letters to offer up as a prayer to God.

It was in this spirit that on the day that Alex got the news that his cancer had come out of remission, I wrote him a meditation to help us all remember to hang on to that spoonful of sugar in the difficult days to come.

I'd like if we could all read it together tonight, and carry the joy and memories with us as we head back out into our big, complicated world.

Prayer to Julie

Our Lady,

We implore that you intercede on our behalf,

With all of your earnestness,

That God may grant us

Courage to sing in the face of fear,

Imagination to turn vile medicines into lime cordials,

Grace to find laughter in prosthetic limbs,

And compassion enough for ourselves to take love when we need it.

Conclusion

It's almost time for us to leave our Seder, but before we do, let's each take our candle and light it from the flame of our Seder candles.

Each time we light our candle at home this year we can think back to our Seder with intentions toward a life of gratitude, with a devotion to spreading peace, joy, and freedom wherever we can.

Chag Sameach!

Songs
Source : JewishBoston.com
Who knows one?

At some seders, people go around the table reading a question and the answers in one breath. Thirteen is hard!

Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows two?

I know two.

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows four?

I know four.

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows five?

I know five.

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows six?

I know six.

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows seven?

I know seven.

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eight?

I know eight.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows nine?

I know nine.

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows ten?

I know ten.

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows eleven?

I know eleven.

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows twelve?

I know twelve.

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Who knows thirteen?

I know thirteen

Thirteen are the attributes of God

Twelve are the tribes

Eleven are the stars

Ten are the Words from Sinai

Nine are the months of childbirth

Eight are the days for circumcision

Seven are the days of the week

Six are the orders of the Mishnah

Five are the books of the Torah

Four are the matriarchs

Three are the patriarchs

Two are the tablets of the covenant

One is our God in Heaven and Earth

Songs
Source : JewishBoston.com

Chad Gadya

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

דְזַבִּין אַבָּא בִּתְרֵי זוּזֵי

חַד גַּדְיָא, חַד גַּדְיָא

Chad gadya, chad gadya

Dizabin abah bitrei zuzei

Chad gadya, chad gadya.

One little goat, one little goat:

Which my father brought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The cat came and ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The dog came and bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The stick came and beat the dog

That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The fire came and burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The water came and extinguished the

Fire that burned the stick

That beat the dog that bit the cat

That ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The ox came and drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The butcher came and killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The angle of death came and slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

One little goat, one little goat:

The Holy One, Blessed Be He came and

Smote the angle of death who slew

The butcher who killed the ox,

That drank the water

That extinguished the fire

That burned the stick that beat the dog That bit the cat that ate the goat,

Which my father bought for two zuzim.

Songs

1. A Passover Song

 [Sung to the tune of "These are a few of my favorite things"]

Cleaning and cooking and so many dishes

Out with the hametz, no pasta, no knishes

Fish that's gefilted, horseradish that stings

These are a few of our Passover things.

 Matzoh and karpas and chopped up haroset

 Shankbones and Kiddish and Yiddish neuroses

 Tante who kvetches and uncle who sings

 These are a few of our Passover things.

 Motzi and maror and trouble with Pharoahs

 Famines and locusts and slaves with wheelbarrows

 Matzoh balls floating and eggshell that cling

 These are a few of our Passover things.

 When the plagues strike

 When the lice bite

 When we're feeling sad

 We simply remember our Passover things

 And then we don't feel so bad.

--------------------------------------------

 2. There's No Seder Like our Seder

 (sung to the tune of "There's no Business like Show business")

 There's no seder like our seder,

 There's no seder I know.

 Everything about it is Halachic

 nothing that the Torah won't allow.

 Listen how we read the whole Haggadah

 It's all in Hebrew

 'Cause we know how.

 There's no Seder like our seder,

 We tell a tale that is swell:

 Moses took the people out into the heat

 They baked the matzoh

 While on their feet

 Now isn't that a story

 That just can't be beat?

 Let's go on with the show!

--------------------------------------------

 3. Take Me Out To The Seder

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

 Take me out to the Seder

 Take me out with the crowd.

 Feed me on matzah and chicken legs,

 I don't care for the hard-boiled eggs.

 And its root, root, root for Elijah

 That he will soon reappear.

 And let's hope, hope, hope that we'll meet

 Once again next year!

 Take me out to the Seder

 Take me out with the crowd.

 Read the Haggadah

 And don't skip a word.

 Please hold your talking,

 We want to be heard.

 And lets, root, root, root for the leader

 That he will finish his spiel

 So we can nosh, nosh, nosh and by-gosh

 Let's eat the meal!!!

--------------------------------------------

 4. Just a Tad of Charoset

 (to the tune of "Just a spoon full of sugar")

 Chorus:

 Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,

 The bitter herbs go down, the bitter herbs go down.

 Just a tad of charoset helps the bitter herbs go down,

 In the most disguising way.

 Oh, back in Egypt long ago,

 The Jews were slaves under Pharoah.

 They sweat and toiled and labored

 through the day.

 So when we gather Pesach night,

 We do what we think right.

 Maror, we chew,

 To feel what they went through.

    Chorus

 So after years of slavery

 They saw no chance of being free.

 Their suffering was the only life they knew.

 But baby Moses grew up tall,

 And said he'd save them all.

 He did, and yet,

 We swear we won't forget.

 That......

    Chorus

 While the maror is being passed,

 We all refill our water glass,

 Preparing for the taste that turns us red.

 Although maror seems full of minuses,

 It sure does clear our sinuses.

 But what's to do?

 It's hard to be a Jew!!!

  Chorus

--------------------------------------------

 5. Afikomen 'Round the Mountain

 Chorus

 Afikomen 'round the mountain when she comes ....

 (1) She'll be drinkin' Mogen David....

 slurp, slurp

 (2) She'll be burpin on charoses ......

   burp, burp

 (3) She'll be chewin' on a shank bone

   chomp, chomp

 (4) She'll be sleepin' off the matzos

   snoring sound

--------------------------------------------

 6. The Eight Nights of Passover:

 (To the tune of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas')

 On the first night of Passover my mother served to me

 1) a matzo ball in chicken soup

 2) two dipped herbs

 3) three pieces of matzah

 4) four cups of wine

 5) five gefilte fish

 6) six capons baking

 7) seven eggs a boiling

 8) eight briskets roasting

7. Paraoh doesn't Pay

 (To the tune of "I've been Working on the Railroad")

 We've been working on these buildings;

 Pharaoh doesn't pay.

 We've been doing what he tells us

 Mixing straw with clay.

 Can't you hear the master calling,

 "Hurry up, make that brick!"

 Can't you feel the master whip us

 'Til we're feeling sick.

   Oy vay, it's a mess,

   A terrible distress,

   Oy vay, it's a mess for Jews, us Jews.

 Moshe's in the palace with Pharaoh,

 Warning of all God's clout, clout, clout.

 Moshe's in the palace with Pharaoh,

 And God's gonna get us out!

   We're singing . . . .

   Fee, Fi, Fiddely eye oh,

   Make our matzahs "to go" oh oh oh.

   Fee, Fi, Fiddely eye oh,

   Stick it to the ol' Pharaoh!

--------------------------------------------

 8. Moses Island

 (Sung to the tune of Gilligan's Island)

 Just recline right back and you'll hear a tale,

 a tale of dreadful trip.

 That started with ten awful plagues brought unto Egypt,

 brought unto Egypt.

 The boss he was a Jewish man raised as a Pharaohos son.

 Then G-d he did come calling and soon the fun begun,

 soon the fun begun.

 More blood, such frogs, and all those bugs,

 Pharaoh could just barely see.

 The Jews were really scoring points and soon they would be free.

 and soon they would be free.

 They shlepped and shlepped for forty years across a desert land.

 He went up to Mt Sinai and a party soon began,

 a party soon began.

 Moses, the Pharaoh too, Aaron and his wife.

 Marianne the skipper too here

 on the desert island.

--------------------------------------------