Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Zionist Passover Haggadah (Aren't they all?): With a Commitment to Justice

 H A G G A D A H

Welcome to our Passover Seder. We gather at this full moon of spring to celebrate the renewal of the seasons through stories from our past; we gather to celebrate our friendship, our families, life and good fortune.

We live and grow and are transformed by years of circumstance; yet me maintain a continuing identity. Passover is one of these continuities. A common denominator.

This week, people all over the world are gathered to observe Pesach. So they have done for more than 3000 years. The word "Seder" means "order", and the word "Haggadah" means "the telling." It is said that "Whoever enlarges upon the telling of the exodus from Egypt, those persons are praiseworthy."

(we say the Kiddush; first cup of wine)

Please join in these blessings as we light the holiday candles:


Boruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tsi-vanu l'hadlik ner shel Shab-os v’shel yom tov.

[Blessed is the spirit of freedom in whose honor we kindle the lights of this holiday.]

Bo-ruch a-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ho-olom she-he-che-ya-nu vi-kee-yi-ma-nu vi-hi-gee-an-u liz-man ha-zeh.

[Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and let us reach this time.]


Let us fill our cups and toast the first of the four traditional cups of wine. At this time we also fill a cup for Elijah the prophet--the harbinger of rain. "Behold, a little cloud like a man's hand is rising out of the sea, and in a little while the heavens grow black with clouds and wind, and there is a great rain." Elijah has an honorary place at this festival of spring and, a little later, we will formally invite him to join us for our seder meal.

We dedicate this cup of wine to Spring, a time of rebirth.


Rise up 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
Arise, and come with us!

                                        --Song of Songs 2:10

 Please join us in this song:


Dodi Li, Va-ani lo, ha ro-eh ba-shoshanim (2)
Mi zote olah, min ha-midbar, mi zote olah
Meh-ku-teret mor, mor u'leh-va-nah, mor u'leh-va-nah

Dodi Li... (2)

Li bav-ti-ni ah-cho-ti chalah, li bav-ti-ni chalah (2)

Dodi Li... (2)

Oo-ri, tsafon, oo-vo-ee tey-mahn (2)

[My beloved is mine and I am my beloved's, a shepherd in the wild roses. Who is this, coming up from the wilderness, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense? You have captured my heart, my sister, my bride... Awake northwind, and come, southwind...]


Boruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam
boray pree hagafen.

[We praise you, O Lord, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

(All drink the first cup of wine.)

Please join us in this song:


                            Lo yisa goy el goy cherev;
                            Lo yil-m'du od mil-cha-ma.

[And everyone 'neath their vine and fig tree Will live in peace and unafraid And into plowshares turn their sword Nations shall learn war no more!]

 (we wash our hands)

(matzah, eggs, shankbone, maror, saltwater, charoset, karpas)

MATZAH: This is matzah, the bread of affliction. Now I break the middle matzah and conceal one half as the afikoman. Later we will share it, as in days of old the Passover offering itself was shared at this service in Jerusalem. Among people everywhere, sharing of bread forms a bond of fellowship. Therefore, we say together the ancient words which join us with our own people and with all who are in need. For our greatness is bound up with the deliverance from bondage of people everywhere.


This is the bread of affliction,
the poor bread, which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt.
Let all who are hungry eat, let all who are in want
share the hope of Passover.

EGGS: The eggs are a symbol of springtime, fertility, and the giving of life.

(all dip egg in salt water and eat)

THE SHANKBONE: Tradition directs us to hold up a roasted lamb bone, which is symbolic of the animals sacrificed during the spring sacrifice. The story of Exodus tells that the doorposts of Jewish homes were marked with the blood of sacrificial lambs so the plague of the slaying of the first borne would "pass over" the household.

MAROR: The bitter herb (horseradish) symbolizes the bitterness of cruelty and oppression.

SALT WATER: This represents the tears of The Children of Israel in slavery.

CHAROSET: This mixture of nuts, apples and spices symbolizes the mortar that the Children of Israel used to build the pyramids. The sweet taste of the Charoset also reminds us that in the bitter times of slavery, the sweet taste of freedom calls.

KARPAS: The parsley and the salt water remind us that both the tender greens of the earth and the salt of the sea are joined together to sustain life.

Please join us in this blessing:

Boruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech ha-olam boray pree ha-adamah.

[Blessed are you, O Lord, King of the Universe Who creates the fruit of the earth.]

 (everyone, dip parsley in salt water and eat)

It is said:  "eat the paschal lamb with matzah and maror together."  Numbers 9:11.  Therefore, please join us in the traditional "Hillel sandwich" of matzah and maror, sweetened by haroset.

Please join us in this song:

Zum gali gali gali, zum gali gali
chalutza le'man avoda 
avoda le'man chalutza
Zum gali gali gali, zum gali gali
hechalutz le'man chaverav
chaverav le'man hechalutz

[The pioneer is for his work, work is for the pioneer. 
The pioneer is for his friends, friends are for the pioneer.]

(the four questions, a Passover story , second cup of wine)

            Four Questions on why this night is different from other nights:
                        Ma nish-ta-na ha-lai-la hazeh  zeh mee-kol ha-lay-lot?
                        Sheh-b'chol ha-lay-lot a-nuo-ch'leen cha-maytz u- matsah,
                        ha-lai-la ha-zeh ku-lo ma-tza.

                        Sheh-b'chol ha-lay-lot a-nu o-ch'leen
                        sh'awr y'ra-kot ha-lai-la ha-zeh maror.

                        Sheb-b'chol ha-lay-lot ayn a-nu mat-bee-leen a-fee-lu pa-am e-chod, ha-lai-la ha-zeh sh'tay p'ah-meem.

                        Sheb-b'chol ha-lay-lot a-nu o-ch'leen bayn yosh-veen u-vayn m'su-been, ha-lai-la ha-zeh ku-lah-nu m'su-been.
* * *

                        Why do we eat only matzah and no bread on this night?

                        Why do we eat bitter herbs on this night?

                        Why do we dip our food in salt water two times on this night?

                        Why do we sit and relax when we eat on this night?
The sages instruct us to answer these questions according to the nature of the child:

The wise child should be taught about the details of the Seder, the nature of freedom and justice, and about the need to act to transform the world.

The isolated child we encourage: come join us tonight; 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 should be told that 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.

To the child who is too young to ask we explain 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.



My father was a fugitive Aramean.  He went down to Egypt with meager numbers and sojourned there, and there became a great and populous nation.

The time that the children of Israel dwelled in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years and there arose a new king over Egypt.  And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land."  Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Raamses.  They made the people of Israel serve with rigor and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick. 

And Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.  And we cried out in anguish.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and I have come down to bring them up to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.  Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people out of Egypt."

Please sing:


When Israel was in Egypt land, 
Let my people go
Oppressed so hard they could not stand
Let my people go

Chorus: Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, "Let my people go"
We need not always weep and mourn
Let my people go
And wear these chains of slaves forlorn
Let my people go

Chorus: Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, "Let my people go"
No more shall they in Bondage toil, 
Let my people go
Let them come out from Egypt's soil,
Let my people go

Chorus: Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt land

Tell old Pharaoh, "Let my people go"

Please recite:


Good morning, daddy! Ain't you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble Of a dream deferred?
Listen closely: You'll hear their feet

Beating out and beating out a--
You think It's a happy beat?

Listen to it closely: ain't you heard
Down in the bass That steady beat 

Walking walking walking
Like marching feet.

                                            --Langston Hughes

Our rabbis taught:  God is urgent about justice, for upon justice the world depends.   To remember upheaval that follows oppression, we pour ten drops for the plagues of Egypt.  


 Please sing:


I-lu ho-tzi-a-nu, ho-tzi-a-nu mi-mitz-ra-yim,
ho-tzi-a-nu mi-mitz-ra-yim da-yei-nu.

Chorus: Da-da-yei-nu, da-da-yei-nu, da-da-yei-nu
da-yei-nu, da-yei-nu, da-yei-nu
I-lu na-tan la-nu, na-tan la-nu et ha-sha-bat, 
na-tan la-nu et ha-sha-bat, dayeinu.

Chorus: Da-da-yei-nu, da-da-yei-nu, da-da-yeinu,

da-yei-nu, da-yei-nu, da-yei-nu
I-lu na-tan, na-tan la-nu, na-tan la-nu et ha-to-rah, 
na-tan la-nu et ha-to-rah, dayeinu.


            At midnight the Lord smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first born of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of the cattle.  And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

            God did not lead the people of Israel by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt."  But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea where they became trapped between the sea and the Egyptians, who pursued them with a great army.  Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground.  But when the Egyptians entered the sea-bed their chariot wheels became clogged and the sea came back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen, and they drowned.

Please sing:


Pharaoh had an army, his horses shook the ground
But mighty as that army was, to a man they drowned
Prob'ly the old Pharaoh, prob'ly got away
And lived to tell his story, and fight another day.

Jacob he grew children, the Pharaoh took for slaves
And used them and abused them, as one will do with slaves
But thank God our people's children, thank God got away
And lived to tell their story, and fight another day.

                                           --Jesse Winchester

            And the Lord said to Moses, "Depart, go up hence, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the land flowing with milk and honey.”


But God did not let Moses enter the land. “Ascend this mountain of the Ag’arim, Mount Nebo,” he said, “and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession.”

And what are the people of Israel to do with this possession?  “Justice!” said the Lord. God gave a vision to Isaiah, son of Amoz: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause,” said the Lord God to Isaiah. And to his servant Zachariah, He said: “Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

And these words the Lord God said to Jeremiah: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.”

And we contemplate 48 years of occupation of millions of people without citizenship, without a franchise, or due process of law, and we think of Micah who spoke to all Israel and said: “Hear what the Lord says: …for the Lord has a controversy with his people… O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

“And with what shall I come before the Lord?” asked the people. And Micah answered: “He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

And we look at Beitar Jerusalem and some of their followers, and we ask “Do they walk humbly with their God?

And we look at Donald Trump and his 10 foot wall, and Ted Cruz and his promise to round up and deport 12 million from among us, and we ask: “Do they walk humbly with their God?

And we look at the murder of an incapacitated stabbing suspect in Hebron, and the country rallying around the murderer, and we ask “What does it mean to walk humbly with your God? What does it mean to do justice?”

And we ponder our Enlightenment heritage and we see political values of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, equal rights and protection under the law irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, or religion; we see a commitment to harness the productive forces of society to help everyone.  And we ask, is this what the prophets were thinking?

We contemplate these Enlightenment values, which commit us, as a matter of necessity, to a clear separation of church and state and to a strong and independent judiciary, and we ask: Would Isaiah, Zachariah, Jeremiah, and Micah have approved of these values? And we say “Yes, Isaiah, Zachariah, Jeremiah, and Micah would have approved. And so would the Lord our God.”

And so we say: “Next year, justice in Jerusalem; next year justice in the land of milk and honey; next year, justice in America.”



Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 

Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 

Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I  never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;

Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific—and all his men

Looked at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

                                           --John Keats

(Prayer for the Dead)


            Rabbi Yoseph was astounded to discover that he was dead.  Far below him, the crumbling ghetto of Zlochtov slumbered under a blanket of thick, wet snow, and a chorus of pious snores floated dreamily past him, winding their sleepy way to the Kingdom of Heaven. 

            The snores were collected in a basket by a bird he had never seen before but had dreamed of once on the night of a Holy Day he no longer recalled.  Because of this odd familiarity, Rabbi Yoseph imposed upon the bird and begged permission to look through the basket for one particular snore.  The bird grudgingly consented and tucking his bill into his wings, he was instantly asleep. 

            Rabbi Yoseph searched through the snores with particular care.  Some felt warm to the touch like tiny kittens, others tickled him so that he nearly cried out, others were so drenched with tears that they nearly slipped through his fingers like water and escaped completely, and then at last he came to the snore he was looking for, that of his wife, his Merriam, who lay sleeping beside his mortal remains in the nest of rags and shredded linen which had been their wedding bed for so many years.   In the morning she would discover him there and at night her snores would be dripping, heartbroken snores like so many the bird had collected before. 

            He held the snore cupped tightly in his hands for a very long time, afraid that it might float away the moment he opened them again, but at last contrived a way of opening just one finger enough so that he could see it clearly but not enough so that it could slip out.   As it lay in his hands like a tiny bird snuggled safely in a shell, its gentle buzzing was sometimes interrupted by snatches from the tune of a Sabbath prayer,  and once it spoke Rabbi Yoseph’s name with such a rich and boundless love that the snore nearly consumed itself in a sigh.

            How very wonderful it seemed.  How much like a miracle.  Merriam was still the most beautiful woman and now he could see little prints of her feet showing every step she had taken in the ghetto throughout her life, the faintest being the smallest steps she had taken in  childhood, the brightest being the ones she had taken that day to the market and back to their room.  All her steps, even the first, smelled vaguely of onions and fish and this brought a deep, warm smile to his face as he closed his eyes and remembered her. 

            Rabbi Yoseph was distracted by the sound of a wagon rumbling towards him with a loadful of snores on the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.  The wagonmaster was a pious frog with dark green sidelocks, a skullcap and the four fringed vest of an orthodox Jew.  Enquiring after the bird, Rabbi Yoseph learned that it had finally passed away and, since it had not appointed a successor, after much debate the task was given to the frog who rode on the wagon which stood before him.  Rabbi Yoseph realized at once that a great deal of time had passed.  Loneliness came down on him like a mountain. 

            In the years that followed,  Rabbi Yoseph wandered from star to star and from world to world and returned to earth as a minor figure in a parable uttered by the Miracle Rabbi of Lublin.   From tiny cracks in the story, Rabbi Yoseph looked out briefly into a world which reminded him of Zlochtov and he fell in love with his own daughter whose name was not Merriam but might easily have been.

            It was Rabbi Yoseph’s honor to live in a parable uttered daily by Rabbi Judah, the Lion of Minsk, who was told of Rabbi Yoseph’s presence in a dream.  Late one night, Rabbi Judah was astounded that he was dead.  Overcome with grief, he recited the parable in which Rabbi Yoseph had lived for so many years and found himself suddenly at his side.  Rabbi Yoseph explained to him the pious task of the hare who collected snores  in a barrow and how he had replaced the frog who had once collected snores in a wagon and how he had replaced the bird who had once collected snores in a basket.  He showed Rabbi Judah the proper manner of searching through the barrow of snores to find the snore of his wife whose name, oddly enough, was Merriam, and how to cup it gently in his hands and peer at it by opening just one finger so that it would not float away. 

            Thus they became fast friends and wandered together from star to star and from world to world.  Whenever they came to a difficulty, Rabbi Yoseph recited a parable which he had lived in and Rabbi Judah commented on it,   whereupon Rabbi Yoseph related another parable, and so on, often for years at a time, until at last they reached the Kingdom of Heaven. 

The details of their journey are much like a dream and have no place in this story recounting the actual events of Rabbi Yoseph’s adventures following his death.  It can be told, however, that as they approached the Kingdom of Heaven they were greeted by a smell which reminded them greatly of onions and fish.  And this can be told because it was no dream at all. 
Please sing:


Ei-li-ya-hu ha-na-vi, Ei-li-ya-hu ha-tish-bi,
Ei-li-ya-hu, Ei-li-ya-hu, Ei-li-ya-hu ha-gi-la-di.
Bim-hei-ra v'-ya-mei-nu, ya-vo ei-lei-nu
Im ma-shi-ah ben da-vid, im ma-shi-ah ben da-vid.


(Discussion, search for the afikoman)

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