We believe that Passover is primarily an exercise in empathy. At the seder, we tell the story of Exodus as though we personally exited Mitzrayim, or “the narrow place.” And through this deep personal connection with the journey from slavery to freedom, or depravation to dignity, we remind ourselves how we might better care for one another and ourselves.
We ask our entire community to flex their empathy muscles by:
All of the seder’s rituals - the symbolic foods, the four cups of wine, even the way we sit at the table - are designed to get us to ask more questions. Why? When we don’t ask questions, we’re less likely to understand the complexities of a situation or the point of view of our neighbor. When we don’t ask questions of ourselves, we risk accepting bad behavior when we could change. All questions are welcome here!
We don’t eat matzah for a week because it feels good. And some of us wish we could skip the maror on the seder plate. But the goal of these symbolic foods is to provide a gateway for us to remember that despite the comforts in our lives, we have an obligation to empathize with life’s challenges. They say Yom Kippur, “afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted.” Passover can be like that too.
Keeping Disagreements Respectful
Jewish life is complex and varied. Some people love to quote the adage, “Two Jews, three opinions”. We value disagreement with each other, ourselves, and even with God - all “for the sake of heaven” as the rabbis once claimed. We even debate the origin of the Exodus story. Despite our disagreements, we respect the humanity of those whom we might see as different. Remember, we’re all people using this ritual of the seder to reckon with our fears and meet our needs.
Welcoming the Stranger
In the Passover story, we were the strangers and experienced the dehumaniazation of slavery. Because we were the stranger, not only in Egypt, but through generations of the Jewish Diaspora, it is our responsibility to welcome strangers at our table. Many Jews make a point to invite new guests each year. Similarly, Haggadot.com functions as a giant “virtual seder table” where we ask everyone to refrain from posting language that excludes others or challenges their dignity or humanity. If you encounter texts you disagree with, use that opportunity to practice empathy toward the author, rather than delegitimizing their views.
Honoring Multiple Ways of Wisdom
Like most Jewish texts, the Haggadah contains many citations and holds space for several contradictions. Part of why we love the Haggadah is because of its adaptability and because each of us can find something meaningful in its pages. We all interpret the Haggadah differently, and we believe there is strength and beauty in that diversity.
Speaking From Collective Experiences
Throughout the seder, we are asked to put ourselves directly into the narrative. As slaves, we collectively experienced oppression and dehumanization. As free people, we collectively were redeemed. The Haggadah is not about some faraway, unknown people - it’s about us. And while we believe you don’t have to be Jewish to participate in a Passover seder, we do hope that regardless of background, you find a way to personally identify and connect with the story.
Finding joy and humor in the midst of challenging situations is one of the most beautiful and bonding aspects of the human experience. Especially in humorous parodies, we strive to shed light on the absurdities of our oppressors - while recognizing the need to hold sacred the dignity of the oppressed.
Repairing the World
We hear the call of tikkun olam, to actively work toward a better world. We believe the most compelling seders are not self-congratulatory, patting us on the back for past good deeds. Rather, they renew our commitment to action. They remind us of the teachings of our ancestors, “You are not expected to complete the task, but neither are you free to avoid it.”
Our role at Haggadot.com is to help you connect with a seder that is meaningful to you. We are not here to tell you the right or wrong way to experience a seder. By demystifying the seder and empowering you to feel a sense of ownership of the text, we share our love of this incredible ritual. Whether you choose a traditional, kosher seder, an interpretative seder or something in between, we are here for you.
Finally, we invite people of all faiths, many faiths and no faith to learn from Passover. This particular platform centers the Jewish experience of Passover. We invite people of all backgrounds to explore and learn about the Passover seder - while letting Jews lead the conversation. If you come from another faith tradition, or are celebrating Passover with Jews, please position yourself as a guest at this virtual seder table, rather than a leader. Through dialogue and mutual respect, we best honor the teachings of the Haggadah.