APRIL 2003

This Haggadah is dedicated to my friend Jonathan Paul Garfield (8/15/64-4/4/87) who died just before Passover.  While I miss him dearly, his memory remains a tremendous blessing. RF  Additional material for this edition was excerpted from ‘A Different Night: Family Participation Hagaddah’ from the Shalom Hartman Institute, and the new Haggadot from the Reconstructionist and Reform Movements:  ‘A Night Of Questions’ and ’The Open Door.’

Song: Hinei Mah Tov

/s©j²h›o³d oh¦j©t ,†c¤­ ohˆg²B›v©nU cIy›v©n v¯B¦v

Hinei mah tov u-mah na-im she-vet a-chim gam ya-chad!

How good and pleasant when people live together in unity!

Reader: In the Mishnah, where the idea for the Passover seder was developed, it is assumed that many questions will be asked about the various rituals of this unusual evening.  The ‘Four Questions’ were meant to be used only if there were no original or spontaneous questions asked around the seder table.  We know that the best kind of learning comes from the questions we ask, so we will reclaim the original intent of Passover tonight.  In addition to the standard  ‘Four Questions’, there are other questions posed throughout this Hagaddah.  Feel free to spend time discussing whichever ones grab your attention.  Feel free to ask and discuss your own questions.  Feel free!

Song:  Seder Table

What are the things we need for our seder table?

These are the things we need for our seder table.

We need a seder plate for our seder table,

But the people ‘round the table are what we need the most.

What are the things we need for our seder table?

These are the things we need for our seder table.

We need a kiddush cup, we need a seder plate,

But the people ‘round the table are what we need the most.

What are the things we need for our seder table?

These are the things we need for our seder table.

We need the three matzot, we need the kiddush cup, we need a seder plate,

But the people ‘round the table are what we need the most.

What are the things we need for our seder table?

These are the things we need for our seder table.

We need a haggadah, we need the three matzot, we need the kiddush cup, we need a seder plate, but the people ‘round the table are what we need the most!

     All: On this night, we gather around seder tables

      Remembering our passage from bondage to freedom.

     On this night, we journey from now to then,

     Telling the story of our people’s birth.

     On this night, we retrace our steps from then to now,

     Reclaiming years of desert wandering.

     On this night, we ask questions, ancient and new,

     Speaking of servitude and liberation, service and joy.

     On this night, we welcome each soul,

     Sharing stories of courage, strength and faith.

     On this night, we open doors long closed,

     Lifting our voices in songs of praise.

     On this night, we renew ancient hopes,

     And dream of a future redeemed.


Reader: We welcome the festival of Pesach as darkness descends.  As we kindle these lights, we remember that our ancestors discovered freedom in the midst of the dark final night in Egypt.  Let the candles we now light be a reflection of the light that shines within each one of us, and let that light radiate throughout our home.  We praise the Source of Light that keeps alive the hope of freedom amidst the darkness of oppression.

ehˆk§s©v‰k Ubœ²Uˆm±u 'uh¨,I‰m¦n‰C Ubœ¨J§S¦e r¤J£t 'oŠkIg¨v Q†kœ¤n Ubhœ¥vO¡t ²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

                                         cIy oIh k¤J r¯b

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vitzivanu lehadlik ner shel yom tov.

Blessed is the Holy One, whose Presence fills creation who teaches us sacred deeds that fill our lives with meaning and purpose, such as the sacred deed of lighting the candles of this holy day.


 :v®Z©v i©n±Z‹k UbŠgh°D¦v±u Ub¨n±H¦e±u Ub²h¡j¤v¤J 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha-Olam, shehecheyanu, vikiyemanu, vehigianu lazman ha-zeh.

Blessed is the Holy One whose Presence Fills Creation; the One who gave us Life, who sustains our lives, and who has brought us to this very moment in time.

QUESTION: Whom could we imagine inviting to the seder this year?  Who in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our world, is a victim of oppression that should be with us tonight?


Reader:  Tonight, we are to drink four cups of wine.  At this time, we fill a special cup of wine for Elijah and a special cup of spring water for Miriam.  They may join us later tonight.   We dedicate the first cup of wine to Spring, a time of rebirth.

Reader: Rise up, my loved ones, my dear friends

            and come away . . .

            For the winter is past

            The rain is over and gone

            The flowers appear on the earth

            The time of singing has come

            The voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land

            The fig tree puts forth her green figs

            and the vines in blossom give forth their fragrance

                                                                                                -Song of Songs

:i†p²D©v h¦r‰P t¥rIC 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam bo-ray pree ha-ga-fen.

Holy One of Blessing, Your Presence Fills Creation.  We bless You for creating the fruit of the vine.

'oŠg-kŠF¦n UbŠC r©jŠC r¤J£t 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Ubh¥vO¡t ²h±h UbŠk-i¤T¦T³u 'uh¨,I‰m¦n‰C Ub¨J§S¦e±u 'iIJŠk-kŠF¦n Ub¨n§nIr±u

oh°D©j 'v¨j§n¦G‰k oh¦s…gIn (U v¨jUb§nˆk ,I,ŠC©J  ,cak) vŠc£v©t‰C

,Im©N©v d©j (oIh-,¤t±u v®z©v ,ŠC©­©v ,cak) oIh-,¤t iIG¨G‰k oh°B©n±zU

,©thˆmhˆk r†f¯z 'J¤s«e t¨r§e¦n ('vŠc£v©t‰C ,cak) 'Ubœ¥,Ur¥j i©n±z /v®Z©v

(,ŠC©J±u  ,cak) /oh¦n‹g¨v-kŠF¦n ¨T§J©S¦e Ub¨,It±u ¨T§r©jŠc UbŠc hˆF /o°h¨r‰m¦n

iIG¨G‰cU v¨j§n¦G‰C (iIm¨r‰cU vŠc£v©t‰C  ,cak) Wœ¤J§s¨e h¥s…gInU

:oh°B©n±z©v±u k¥t¨r§G°h(±u ,ŠC©J©v  ,cak) J¥S©e§n '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC :Ub¨T‰k©j±b¦v

Reader: The Hagaddah teaches that every generation must look upon itself as if we—not only our ancestors—have gone from slavery to freedom.  The story, the rituals, the very food that we eat ought to make us feel what it was like to escape Mitzrayim.  Mitzrayim is the Hebrew word for Egypt and literally means a narrow place.  We reach into the memory of our tradition to give us the energy to have compassion and to take action for those people all over the world who are not yet free.  Closer to home, we can look into our own lives and free ourselves from all the ‘narrow places’ that we get into; those places which hinder our own true freedom.

Reader: “The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, in every era, in every year, and even in every day.”

                                                                                                -Reb Nachman of Bretslov

Song:  In Every Generation

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

We must look upon ourselves as if from slavery we were freed

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

We must look upon and help all the ones who are in need

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

We must lend a helping hand to the stranger and our friends

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

Are the righteous of all nations on whom we all depend.

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

We must learn from our mistakes, we must find a better way

B’chol Dor va dor, in every generation

Is the hope that with tomorrow will come a better day.


Reader: We eat this vegetable dipped in saltwater to represent the tears of our ancestors in slavery.  We offer hope to all those oppressed peoples still crying today.

:v¨n¨s£t¨v h¦r‰P t¥rIC 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch atah adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam borey pree ha-adamah

Holy One of Blessing, Your Presence fills creation.  We bless You for creating the fruit of the earth.









Reader:  We turn our attention now to the matzah. The seder table has a plate or cloth with three matzahs. The middle one is broken in half. The larger half is called the afikomen, the Greek word for dessert. At some point during dinner the afikomen will be hidden and must be found before we can eat dessert. The smaller half is the bread of affliction. We say together:

This is the bread of affliction that our mothers and fathers ate in Egypt. All who are hungry, let them come and eat.  All who are lonely and in need, let them come and celebrate Passover. Now we are here, next year may we be in a world of peace and freedom.  Now we are all slaves, next year may all humankind and all creation be free.

Reader: We promise to all the people and places in the world and in our own country for whom freedom is not yet a reality that once they are free we will be willing to help them rebuild their lives. We will not rest until this task is complete, for until all people are free, not one of us is free.

Reader: Why do we say that we are slaves, when it doesn’t really seem as if we are?  Perhaps ‘we’ at this table tonight are not slaves.  But the fact that slavery in its various forms still does exist in the world means that if some of us are slaves, then all of us are enslaved in an economic system that does not serve our common humanity.

Reader: You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.  Exodus (23:9)

“To me, that commandment is not some spiritual anachronism, but an ongoing moral prescription for the whole Jewish people.

I believe the reason why Jews throughout the world repeat the Exodus story at every seder, and thank God for our liberation from Egypt in so many prayers throughout the year, is that liberation is the core event of Jewish history. It is the experience that defines us as a people. It tells us who we are and what we are supposed to do.

Reader: “There is a Third World here in America. There is an Egypt right here in the middle of our Canaan. Whatever our personal goals and wherever our promised land takes us, we can commit ourselves to choose just one piece from the jagged puzzle of human misery and try to make it better. We can join advocacy groups and work together to combat hate and promote pluralism. We can organize, fund-raise, lobby, volunteer our time, speak out, fight for fairer allocation of public resources, give our own money, work in a soup kitchen, demonstrate - - yes, even march together once again.

The mandate is deceptively simple. Imitateo Deo. Imitate what God did for us and do it for others. How do we imitate God? By relieving suffering. By helping to free the oppressed. By undertaking the ritual of empathy and the search for justice as commitments of our own. Thus does the theology of hope inspire the politics of social change.”

- Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Story: Iraqi Jews tell the tale that in one country the king was always chosen in a special way.  When the old king died, a bird called the ‘bird of good fortune.’ Would be released.  On whomsever’s head it landed, the people would place the crown making him their next ruler. 

Once the bird of good fortune landed on the head of a slave.  That slave had been a simple musician who entertained at the master’s parties.  His costume consisted of a feathered cap and a belt made of the hooves of sheep.

When the slave became king, he moved into the palace and wore royal robes.  However, he ordered that a shack be constructed next to the palace and that his old hat, belt and drum be stored there along with a giant mirror.

The new king was known for his kindness and love for all his people-rich and poor, free and slave.  Often he would disappear into his little shack.  Once he left its door open and the cabinet ministers saw him don his feathered hat, put on his old belt and dance and drum before the mirror.  They found this very strange and asked the king:  “After all, you are a king!  You must maintain your dignity!”

The king replied:  “Once I was a slave and now I’ve become a king.  From time to time I want to remind myself that I was once a slave lest I grow arrogant and treat with disdain my people and you, my ministers.”

?,Ikh‡K©v kŠF¦n v®Z©v vŠk±hœ‹K©v v²B©T§J°B v©n

Mah nishtanah he-lai-lah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-le-lot?

Why is this night different from all other nights?

:vŠM©n IKŒF v®Z©v vŠk±hœ‹K©v /vŠM©nU .¥n¨j ihˆk‰fIt Ubœ¨t ,Ikh‡K©v kŠf‰C¤J

She-b’khol ha-le-lot anu okh-lin chametz u-ma-tzah, ha-lai-lah ha-zeh ku-lo ma-tzah.

On all the other nights we may eat either leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night, only unleavened bread;

:rIr¨n v®Z©v vŠk±hœ‹K©v ,Ie¨r±h r¨t§J ihˆk‰fIt Ubœ¨t ,Ikh‡K©v kŠf‰C¤J

She-b’khol ha-le-lot a-nu okh-lin sh’ar y’ra-kot, ha-lai-lah ha-zeh maror.

On all the other nights we may eat any species of herbs, but on this           night only bitter herbs;       

v®Z©v vŠk±hœ‹K©v /,¨j¤t o‹gœ‹P Ukhˆp£t ihˆkhˆC§y©n Ubœ¨t ih¥t ,Ikh‡K©v kŠf‰C¤J

:oh¦nŠg‰p h¥T§J

She-b’khol ha-le-lot eyn anu mat-bilin a fi-lu p-am a-chat ha-lai-lah ha-zeh sh’tay f’a-mim.

On all the other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice;   

v®Z©v vŠk±hœ‹K©v /ihˆCªx§n ih‡cU ihˆc§JIh ih‡C ihˆk‰fIt Ubœ¨t ,Ikh‡K©v kŠf‰C¤J

:ihˆCªx§n UbœŠKŒF

She-b’khol ha-le-lot a-nu okh-lin beyn yosh-vin u-veyn m’su-bin, ha-lai-la ha-zeh ku-la-nu m’su-bin

On all the other nights we eat and drink either sitting  or leaning, but on this night we all lean.

Reader:  We are glad that you have asked these questions because the story of this night is just what we want you to know. This night is different from all other nights for on this night we celebrate the going forth of our people from slavery into freedom.

Reader:  We eat matzah because when we left Egypt to escape from being slaves, we were in a hurry. We didn’t have time to wait for the bread to rise. So we baked flat bread called matzah to take with us. At this seder meal we have no leaven or chametz. Tradition tells us to rid our homes the month before Passover of chametz. This can be considered a kind of Jewish “spring cleaning.”

The Zohar calls matzah the “bread of faith” for it represents simplicity, our ability to live without an attachment to too much extra ‘stuff.’ 

Reader: Chametz is not necessarily bad; it is just unnecessary. What is the chametz that does not belong in your life right now? Is there a behavior, belief, object, or relationship that is keeping you from being the best that you can be? We will try to do some “spring cleaning” within ourselves to bring us all closer to personal freedom.

Reader: Why do we eat bitter herbs on this night? The bitter taste helps us to remember how we felt when we were slaves, and how people feel when they get hurt by other people.

Song: Avadim Hayinu (We Were Slaves; Now we are a Free People)

Ubh°h¨v oh¦sŠc…g

                        Avadim hayinu, hayinu

                        Ata b’nai chorin, b’nai chorin,

                        Avadim hayinu

                        Ata, ata b’nai chorin,

                        B’nai chorin 

Reader:  Why do we dip our food in saltwater two times? The first time, the salty taste reminds us of the tears we cried when we were slaves. The second time, the saltwater and the greens help us to remember the ocean and green plants and Earth, where we get air and water and food that help us to live.

Reader: Why do we sit and relax when we eat this night? A long time ago, free people sat down to eat, but slaves were not allowed to sit and relax. Tonight we sit and eat slowly, so we’ll remember that we don’t have to be slaves anymore. We and our friends and our children can be free.

Reader: “To be a slave.  To be owned by another person, as a car, house, or table is owned.  To live as a piece of property that could be sold—a child sold from its mother, a wife from her husband.  To be considered not human, but a ‘thing’ that plowed the fields, cut the wood, cooked the food, nursed another’s child: a ‘thing’ whose sole function was determined by the one who owned you.  To be a slave.  To know, despite the suffering and deprivation, that you were human, more human than he who said you were not human.  To know joy, laughter, sorrow, and tears and yet be considered the equal of a table.  To be a slave was to be a human being under conditions in which that humanity was denied.  They were not slaves.  They were people.  Their condition was slavery.”

                                                     -African-American/Jewish writer Julius Lester

Reader: Let us linger at this Passover feast with songs and stories that speak of the precious values of freedom.

QUESTION:  Do you have a special seder memory to share?

SONG: O Freedom

                        O freedom, o freedom

                        O freedom over me!

                        And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave

                        And go home to my Lord and be free

                        No more fear…

                      No more hunger

                        There’ll be joy . . .

                        There’ll be singing . . .        

                        There’ll be peace . . .



Reader: “The second cup of wine, we dedicate to justice. We proudly affirm that we are descendents of slaves – the first group of slaves in recorded history ever to wage a successful rebellion against their slaveholders. Our very existence is proof that the world can be changed, and every Passover and every Sabbath we insist on recounting the story and drawing the lesson: the way things are is not the way things have to be; the world can be radically altered.

Reader: No wonder that the constant recounting of our struggle for freedom has predisposed Jews to support the liberation struggles of other oppressed groups. Ours is a tradition of Tikkun olam; global healing, repair and transformation. Our spirituality is one that affirms this world, affirms the importance of the struggles for peace, equality, and human dignity.

Reader: Our Passover story reminds us that it is all possible. Passover is a rejection of cynicism and a reaffirmation of our highest hopes for each other and the world.”

                                                                                                -Rabbi Michael Lerner

:i†p²D©v h¦r‰P t¥rIC 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam bo-ray pree ha-ga-fen.

Holy One of Blessing, Your Presence Fills Creation.  We bless You for creating the fruit of the vine.


Reader: “My ancestors, wandering Arameans, went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number.  They became a great nation, mighty and many.  The Egyptians oppressed us and afflicted us, and placed hard servitude upon us.  We cried out to the God of our ancestors, and the Holy One heard our voice.  God saw our affliction, our strain and our oppression, and God took us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, with awe-inspiring acts and with signs and portents.”

-Deuteronomy 26:5-8

Reader: After being sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph figured out a way to feed the world during a horrible famine and became an honored advisor to the Pharaoh of Egypt.  And then it is written that a new Pharaoh arose over Egypt who did not remember Joseph.  This Pharaoh forced all of the Hebrews into slavery and oppressed them for four hundred years.  Finally, the Hebrews cried out to God.  Moses was born.

Reader: Moses, kept alive by his mother and nurtured by an Egyptian princess, demanded that the Pharaoh let our people go. When Pharaoh insisted on defying the commands of Moses to let our people go, the Land of Egypt was afflicted by ten plagues.

Reader:  Our tradition teaches us compassion. Although the plagues resulted in the freeing of our people, we cannot be glad at the suffering of the Egyptians. It is written in Proverbs, “Do not rejoice at the fall of your enemy.”  We will drop off some wine from our cup of joy at the mention of each plague to show how our pleasure was diminished because of the suffering (however necessary) of others.

Spill a drop of wine as each plague is mentioned.

/,IrIf‰C ,‹F©n /Q¤Jœ«j /v†C§r©t /s¨rŠC /ih¦j§J /r†cœ¤S /cIrŠg /oh°BˆF /‹gœ¥S§r‹p‰m /o¨S

                                    Dam                                       BLOOD

                                    Tzefardaya                           FROGS

                                    Kinim                                     LICE

                                    Arov                                       BEASTS      

                                    Dever                                     PESTILENCE

                                    Shichin                                  BOILS

                                    Barad                                     HAIL

                                    Arbeh                                     LOCUSTS

                                    Choshech                            DARKNESS

                                    Makat b’chorot                    KILLING OF THE FIRST BORN

QUESTION:  What ecological plagues do we face today?


Reader: We also remind ourselves that our cup of joy cannot be full when so many people suffer from poverty, homelessness, and hunger. As long as the world’s resources are not allocated in a rational, just and humane way, we drop wine from our cup of joy. The third cup, we dedicate to compassion.

:i†p²D©v h¦r‰P t¥rIC 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam bo-ray pree ha-ga-fen.

Holy One of Blessing, Your Presence Fills Creation.  We bless You for creating the fruit of the vine.

Reader: The Jews and an erev rav (a ‘mixed multitude’ of people from many nations and races who joined with the Hebrews to escape Egyptian oppression) were then allowed to leave Egypt. Pharaoh soon had a change of heart, and chased the Jews who were encamped by the sea. The Jews went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.  Then they crossed into the wilderness; into freedom.

QUESTION:  What treasured possession would you have taken before leaving Egypt?

Reader: Then Miriam the prophet took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam chanted for them, “Sing to Adonai, for Adonai had triumphed gloriously!”

Song: Miriam’s Song

            And the women dancing with their timbrels

            Followed Miriam as she sang her song:

            “Sing a song to the One whom we’ve exalted!”

            Miriam and the women danced the whole night long.

            Miriam was a weaver of unique variety,

            The tapestry she wove was one which sang our history.

            With every strand and every thread she crafted her delight.

            A woman touched with spirit, she dances towards the light.

            When Miriam stood upon the shores and gazed across the sea,

            The wonder of this miracle she soon came to believe.

            Whoever thought the sea would part with an outstretched hand

            And we would pass to freedom and march to the promised land?

And Miriam, the prophet, took her timbrel in her hand,

            And all the women followed her, just as she had planned.

            Miriam raised her voice in song, she sang with praise and might,

            “We’ve just lived through a miracle, we’re going to dance tonight!”


Reader: Throughout their desert wanderings, the Israelites were refreshed by miraculous springs that bubbled out of deep crevices in the rocky landscapes.  When Miriam died, the waters dried up.  The people mourned the slave child who waited by a river, the woman who danced across a sea, the leader who sang a nation to freedom.  When the springs flowed once more, they named them Miriam’s Well. 

Reader: When fear blocks our path, when our travels deplete us, we seek sources of healing and wells of hope.  May our questions and stories nourish us as Miriam’s Well renewed the spirit of our people.

o°h¨r‰m¦n ,tˆmˆk r†f¯z ohhj oh©n xIF o²h§r¦n xIF ,t«z

Zot kos Miryam, kos mayim chayim.  Zecher litziat Mitzrayim

This is the cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters, a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt.

Pour spring water from the kos Miryam into every guest’s cup

 :rIr¨nU vŠM©n j©x†P

Reader: Each of these symbols—pesach, matzah and maror-tells a portion of our peoples’ history.  But the story of our liberation remains incomplete until we share our own tales—of suffocating conditions and narrow escapes, of hungers of body and spirit, of the longing that brought us to this table.  Tonight is the night when we discover that this story is our own.  Tonight is the night when the rhythm of this journey carries us to new destinations.

Reader: On the seder plates are other foods that symbolize this holiday.

Matzah we have talked about.

:.¤rœ¨t¨v i¦n o¤jœ†k thˆmIN©v 'oŠkIg¨v Q†kœ¤n Ubhœ¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUr‰ŠC

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha—aretz

Blessed is the Holy One whose Presence fills creation.  You have brought forth bread from the earth.

k‹g Ubœ²Uˆm±u uh©¨,I‰m¦n‰C Ubœ¨J§S¦e r¤J£t 'oŠkIg¨v Q†kœ¤n Ubhœ¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

:vŠM©n ,‹khˆf£t

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzi-vanu al achilat Matzah

Blessed is the Holy One whose Presence fills creation who teaches us to perform sacred deeed which fill our lives with meaning and purpose including the sacred deed of eating matzah on Passover

Break off a piece of matzah and eat it

Reader: We eat marror, the bitter herbs, to remind us of the bitterness of slavery.  We eat them alone at first and then with the sweet charoset to symbolize the sweet hope of freedom.  Charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, wine and spices made into a paste, also symbolizes the mortar that our ancestors used to build the Pyramids.

Eat matzah with marror and then with charoset and maror

QUESTION:  What other foods and symbols could we put between the matzot to create the most comprehensive story-of-slavery sandwich one could imagine?

Reader: The egg is a symbol of springtime, fertility, and the giving of life. We are reminded of Pharaoh’s threat to kill our newborn babies, and of the courageous midwives who refused to carry out his orders. The egg also teaches us that the longer things are in hot water, the stronger they become. 

Reader: One Sunday morning in 1941 in Nazi-occupied Netherlands, a mysterious character rode up on his bicycle and entered the Calvinist church.  He ascended the podium and read aloud the story of the midwives who saved the Hebrew babies and defied Pharaoh’s policy of genocide.

Reader: “Who is today’s Pharaoh?” he asked.  “Hitler”, the congregation replied.  “Who are today’s Hebrew babies?”  The Jews.”   “Who will be today’s midwives?”  He left the church, leaving his question hanging in the air.

Reader: During the war, seven families from this little church hid Jews and other resisters from the Nazis.

Eat an egg dipped in salt-water

Reader: The shankbone is symbolic of the lambs sacrificed during the exodus.  In Temple times, our ancestors sacrificed and ate lamb on Passover in order to remind them that the doorposts of Jewish homes were marked with lamb’s blood so that the angel of death would “pass over” and not take their first born children. This year we will not sacrifice a lamb for our ritual; instead, we invited a baby lamb to our seder as a guest. Unfortunately, she didn’t trust us and didn’t come. Maybe next year.

Reader: Some of you may wonder why an orange has been included on the Seder plate. Years ago, when women were first being admitted to the rabbinate, Susannah Heschel gave a speech in Florida, the Land of Oranges. After she spoke of the emerging equality of women in Jewish life, an irate man rose and said, “A woman belongs in the rabbinate as much as an orange belongs on the Seder plate!”  Since that day, many of us have placed an orange on our seder tables as a symbol that women belong everywhere Jews belong.


Reader: Dayenu means “If just this one thing had happened, it would have been enough for us! For each thing alone we are grateful. What a blessing that we have so much more!!!

Ilu hotsi, hotsi onu

Hotsi onu mi mitzrayim (2x) / Dayenu

Ilu natan, natan lanu

Natal lanu et hashabbat (2x) / Dayenu

Ilu natan, natan lanu

Natan lanu et Hatorah (2x) / Dayenu

(Had God let us out of Egypt/Given us the Sabbath/Given us Torah

Only let us out of Egypt/Given us the Sabbath/Given us Torah

Dayenu/It would have been enough!)

Reader: Literally, we know that each milestone achieved along the way is not always enough.  But Dayenu teaches us that we should celebrate each step toward freedom AS IF it were enough before we begin work on the next step.  It means that if we reject each victory toward liberation because it is not the whole liberation, we will never be able to achieve the whole liberation. 

(See ‘A Dayenu for Today’ in the Extra Stuff section)

Reader: “Sooner or later everyone in the wilderness must have understood that this Ancient Only God did not really want them to get there; only wanted them to be on their way.”

                                                                                     -Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

Reader: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will not hate you, but we cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws. And in winning our freedom we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.” He did not win us while he lived. Yet the night before he died, he stood with Moses; the Promised Land within his sight.

Song: We Shall Overcome

We shall overcome, we shall overcome

We shall overcome someday

O deep in my heart, I do believe

We shall overcome some day

We are not afraid (3x) TODAY . . .

We shall stand together (3x) someday . . .

Anu nitgaber b'vo hayom Ani ma'amin, b'emunah shleima She'anu nitgaber hayom


Reader: The sages speak of four kinds of children who view the Seder in four different ways and so ask different questions:

·         The wise child asks: What does this all mean?

This child should be taught about the details of the Seder. Talk with this child about the nature of freedom and justice and about the need to act to transform the world.

·         The isolated child asks: What does this mean to all of you?

And in so doing isolates him or herself from the community of the Seder.

This child should be answered by saying: Join us tonight. Be fully here. Listen closely. Sing and read and dance and drink. Be with us, become a part of us. Then you will know what the Seder means to us.

·         The simple child asks: What is this?

This child should be told: We are remembering a long time ago in another land when we were forced to work for other people as slaves. We became a free people and we are celebrating our freedom.

·         Then there is the child who is too young to ask.

Reader: We will say: Sweetheart, this wondrous evening happens in the spring of every year, so that we may remember how out of death and sorrow and slavery came life and joy and freedom. To remember the sorrow we eat bitter herbs; to remember the joy we drink sweet wine. And we sing of life because we love ourselves and each other and you.

Reader: We are thankful for the questions that children ask – for growth and strength and courage and safety and love and warmth and fun and friends; for games and work and pets and teachers, for sisters and brothers, parents and grandparents and all the favorite relatives in the world; for trees, ducks, bunnies, and raisins, peanut butter, clean pajamas, bicycles, dolls and bathtubs. For you, the young people here tonight; for all that you love and for your futures.

Reader:         On this night we remember a fifth child.

                        This is a child of the Shoah (Holocaust), who did not survive to ask.

                        Therefore, we ask for that child - - Why?

                        We are like the simple child. We have no answer.

                        We answer that child’s question with silence.

                        In silence, we remember that dark time.

                        In silence, we remember that Jews preserved their image of God in                       the struggle for life. 

In silence, we remember the seder nights spent in forests, ghettos, and camps; we remember that seder night when the Warsaw Ghetto rose in revolt.

Reader: It is written that we begin the seder in degradation because of our slavery, and move towards praise and thanksgiving for our liberation.  One of the most direct and powerful ways to praise God; to praise all that is high and holy and righteous in the universe, is to sing Hallelu-Yah-Praise God, the Breath of Life!


Hallelu (x12) Hallelu-Yah (x2) Hallel, hallelu-Yah, Hallelu-Yah (x2)

Hallel, hallelu-Yah

Hallelu (x12) Hallelu-Yah (x2)

Kol Haneshamah, tehalel Yah (With every breath you praise God),

Hallel, hallelu-Yah, Kol Haneshamah, tehalel Yah, Hallel, hallelu-Yah

QUESTION:  But the seder isn’t complete until we conclude the hagaddah.  In fact, we can’t continue until the children find the afiikomen.  This means that the kids have a lot of power.  Can you think of other times when children have so much power?  Why did the rabbis who made up the seder want to make children so important in it?

            DINNER IS SERVED



Reader: We open the door to beckon the spirit of Eliyahu, the prophet Elijah. In the 9th century, B.C., a farmer arose to challenge the domination of the ruling elite. In his tireless and passionate advocacy on behalf of the common people, and his ceaseless exposure of the corruption and waste of the court, Elijah sparked a movement and created a legend which would inspire people for generations to come.

Reader: Before he died, Elijah declared that he would return once each generation in the guise of any poor or oppressed person, coming to people’s doors to see how he would be treated. By the treatment offered this poor person, who would be Elijah himself, he would know whether the population had reached a level of humanity making them capable of participating in the dawn of the Messianic age.  This is why we leave the doors to our seder wide open.

Reader: Let us go outside (or imagine we are outside), welcoming Elijah because we have let go of the thoughts that have enslaved us. Even though we have different thoughts and different ideas, we are all connected. There is no one, no part of creation that is “other.”

Reader: The root of Shalom means wholeness. We cannot have true peace until we build true communities and nobody is alienated or shut out. Let us start here. Let us hold hands to remind each other that we are all connected. Let us sing so Elijah knows we are working towards a more healing, just and peaceful world.

           Song: Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu haTishbi

            Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu Hagiladi

            Bimhera v’yameinu, yavo eleinu im Mashiah ben David.

May Elijah the Prophet come to us quickly and in our day,

bringing the time of the Messiah.


Reader: The fourth cup of wine is dedicated to Elijah.

:i†p²D©v h¦r‰P t¥rIC 'oŠkIg¨v Q†k¤n Ubh¥vO¡t '²h±h v¨T©t QUrŠC

Baruch ata Adonai eloheynu melech ha-olam bo-ray pree ha-ga-fen.

Holy One of Blessing, Your Presence Fills Creation.  We bless You for creating the fruit of the vine.

QUESTION:  Do you have a special memory from a past seder to share?

BIRKAT HA-MAZON (Blessing After the Meal)

Sing: Chaverei N’vareych

Ye’hi shem Adonai mevorach mehatah vead olam

Ye’hi shem Adonai mevorach mehatah vead olam

Birshoot Chaverai; nevareych Eloheynu shelchanu mishelo

Baruch Eloheynu Shelchanu Mishelo oovtuvo chayenu

Baruch oovaruch shemo

Read Together: My friends, let us give thanks to Wonder.

Let us give thanks for the Wonder of Life that infuses all things now and forever.

Sing: Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohaynu Melech Ha-Olam

Chazan et ha-olam kulo b’tuvo

Bechen ve chesed oovrachamim

Hu noteyn lechem lechol basar

Ki leolam chasdo

Oovtuvo ha-gadol, tamid lo chasar lanu

V’al yechsar lanu mazon leolam va-ed

Baavor shemo ha-gadol

Ki el zan oofarnes lakol

Oommeitiv lakol oomeycheen mazon

Lechol b’riyotav asher bara

Baruch atah Adonai hazan et ha-kol

(Blessed are You, Eternal One, for providing enough food for everyone)

Read Together: From the creative power of Life we derive food and harvest,

from the bounty of the earth and the yields of the heavens

we are sustained and are able to sustain others.

We eat not simply to satisfy our own appetites,

we eat to sustain ourselves in the task we have set.

Each of us is unique, coming into the world with a gift no other can offer: ourselves.

We eat to nourish the vehicle of giving,

we eat to sustain our task of world repair,

our quest for harmony, peace and justice.

We give thanks to the Power that makes for Meeting,

For our table has been a place of dialogue and friendship.

We give thanks to Life.

May we never lose touch with the simple joy and wonder

Of sharing a meal.

Sing: B’rich Rachamana

Malka d’alma; marei d’hai pitah

You are the Source of Life for all that is

And Your blessings flow through us

Oseh Shalom Bimromav

Hu yaaseh shalom

Aleynu vealkol Yisrael

(ve al kol yoshvey tevel)

veyimru Amen.

(May the One who makes peace in the heavens

make peace for us, for all Israel, and for all who dwell on earth

And let us say Amen)

Reader:  When we say, “Next year in Jerusalem” it is with the understanding that Israel is both a metaphor and a reality. It is a metaphor for the peace we long for, and so we are saying, “Next year may we all be at peace.” It is also the reality of a land that Jews and Palestinians both want, and so we are also saying, “Next year may we share this land in peace.” In an even larger sense, Jerusalem can be thought of as anything we long for.  For example, next year in all of our inner cities with decent housing, health care and jobs for all!

We say together - -

The Seder of Passover is now complete to the spirit of the Law.

Just as we were privileged to celebrate it this year,

So may we be privileged to do so in the future.

May the lessons of freedom we have learned inspire us to free all who are oppressed.





 :W¤r§n¦J°h±u v²Iv±h W‰f¤rŠc±h

     :˜®Bªjh°u Wh†k¥t uh²bŠP  v²Iv±h r¥t²h  

 :oIk¨J W‰k o¥G²h±u Wh†k¥t uh²bŠP v²Iv±h t¨¬°h

Ye-va-rech-e-cha a-do-nai ve-yish-me-re-cha,

Ya-eir a-do-nai pa-nav ei-le-cha vi-chu-ne-ka,

Yi-sa a-do-nai pa-nav ei-le-cha ve-ya-seim le-cha sha-lom.

May God bless you and keep you safe,

May God's love shine on you and be kind to you,

May God’s presence be with you and bring you Peace.



When all the workers of the world receive just compensation and respect for their labors, enjoy safe, healthy, and secure working conditions, and can take pride in their work . . . Dayenu

When technology for the production and conservation of energy and other natural resources is developed so that we can maintain responsible and comfortable lifestyles – and still assure a safe environment for our children . . . Dayenu

When the air, water, fellow creatures and beautiful world are protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all, and given priority over development for the sake of

profit . . . Dayenu

When all people live freely in their own countries, practicing their beliefs and cultures without interference or persecution . . . Dayenu

When all women and men are allowed to make their own decisions on matters regarding their own bodies and their personal relationships without discrimination or legal consequences . . . Dayenu

When all children grow up in freedom, without hunger, and with the love and support needed to realize their full potential . . . Dayenu

When all children, women, and men are free of the threat of violence, abuse, and domination; when personal power and strength are not used as

weapons . . . Dayenu

When food, shelter and health care are accepted as human rights, not as commodities, and are             available to all . . . Dayenu

When no elderly person in our society has to fear hunger, cold, or

loneliness . . . Dayenu


A group of Rabbis and rabbinical students (myself included) engaged in civil disobedience at a NYC rally against police brutality just before Passover in 1999.  Many of us were arrested.  This teaching was written by Rabbi Arthur Waskow:

Teaches the Haggadah, "In every generation, one rises up to destroy us." Who is this "us"? Perhaps this "us" is all human beings, for all of us carry the Image of God.

NO! Surely this "us" does not include foreigners, strangers.

"Us." is just us:

Us Jews. Us white folks. Us Americans. People whose skin, whose speech, is familiar.

But we are taught: "Love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the Land of Mitzrayyim/ Narrowness/ Egypt." Abner Louima: a stranger. Amadou Diallo: a stranger. Strangers because they came new to the shores where three generations have made "us" — us Jews — into home-borns.

Not "us." Strangers?

"In every generation," teaches the Haggadah further, "every human being is obligated to understand that we ourselves, not our forebears only, come forth from slavery to freedom." When are handcuffs a mark of freedom? When we freely choose to stand with those who are not free, demanding that we too be put in fetters.

For EVERY human being must be free to come forth from slavery to freedom;

and when in our city, our country, our generation,

some are marked for bullets,

some for a stick into the bowels,

some for harassment on the streets,

some for constant humiliation,

some for poverty in the midst of Pharaonic wealth —

Then those who are not so marked must step across the line into action. Into wearing handcuffs as a mark of freedom.                 

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