Why This Night is Different: Service and Social Justice at the Passover Sederby Leah Koenig | April 13, 2011 | 1 comment
Last Sunday, I attended “We Are Activists: A Proudly Progressive Seder,” hosted by The Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring in New York. I listened to young children sing songs and recite poetry about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in English and Yiddish, and was moved by Workers’ Rights Champion, Ed Ott’s stirring speech on standing up to the world’s growing inequalities.
The seder was happening the same evening as The Food Justice Seder co-hosted by Uri L’Tzedek, Pursue, and Hazon. (Ah, to be in two places at once!) These events, which were held a week before the actual seders, totally got me in the Passover spirit. With its focus on freedom from slavery, and the idea that each Jew should tell the Passover story as if they personally experienced it, Passover lends itself to constant invigoration and updating.
In this spirit, some families include justice-inspired additions on their seder plates (like oranges, olives, and chocolate and coffee beans). Others update the 10 plagues to include contemporary societal issues, or bring new texts to the table to reinforce Passover themes. Others host full-on Freedom Seders which use the seder as an opportunity to explore themes of modern day slavery.
Repair the World is partnering with other great organizations in the 2nd annual Freedom Shabbat. On April 22-23, Freedom Shabbat will offer the opportunity to spend the Shabbat after the seders ruminating on the role we can play in opposing human trafficking. Find out more and get involved here.
We encourage you to incorporate some of these innovative ideas into your own seders. In that spirit, we’ve rounded up a handful of service/social justice-focused haggadahs and supplements to share with family and friends. Enjoy, and if you have others to share, please leave them in the comments section.
- Food & Justice Haggadah supplement by (Repair the World grantee) Uri L’Tzedek. Choice line: “Everyone has something to contribute, a reminder that the work of human redemption is a collective effort.”
- Slavery, Freedom and Migration supplement by (Repair the World grantee) the American Jewish World Service AJWS. Choice line: “Fulfilling the promise of Passover for all people requires that we protect the stranger, particularly those in our midst.”
- In Every Generation – a Passover message by Adam Greenwald of (Repair the World grantee) Jewish Funds for Justice. Choice line: “In this season, we are reminded of the profound gap between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be, between our society and our vision of the Promised Land.”
- The Velveteen Rabbi’s (aka Rabbi Rachel Barenblat) Haggadah for Pesach. Choice line: “Tonight, let’s turn away from platitudes and easy answers. Let’s acknowledge how hard it is to keep the seder with us, how difficult it is to stay in touch with wonder, gratitude, and the call to justice.”
- The Labor Seder by Jews United for Justice. Choice line: “When we are distressed by intolerance and economic inequalities, then social equality will flourish.”