26 A ual
An Intercultural, Multifai Celebratiо
BRUCE FISHER AND MARLENE LITVAK
PETER AND BARBARA GLEICHENHAUS
SUE ANN LEVIN SCHIFF
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) brought the Freedom Seder to the San Francisco Bay Area 26 years ago and it soon became the region’s premier Passover event. The original Freedom Seders (started in Washington D.C in 1969) celebrated the longstanding relationship between the Jewish American and African American communities. Embodying our community’s unwavering commitment to social justice, the JCRC Freedom Seder has evolved over the years to highlight our commitments to building community, civic engagement and a stronger democracy, emphasizing a host of contemporary issues from racial justice to immigration reform, while celebrating our longstanding Passover traditions with a Bay Area flair. This Passover, we come together to lift up civic, elected and community partners who stand in solidarity with the Jewish community to confront rising antisemitism, racism, xenophobia, and hate. Now more than ever, the story of Passover is resonant with contemporary experiences of systemic injustices and the dangerous fractures facing our society and our democracy. JCRC believes that for the Jewish community to thrive, we must work together with our neighbors to build a more pluralistic, equitable, and educated democratic society. By building bridges and working in coalition with diverse ethnic, faith, political and civic communities, JCRC is strengthening the pillars of a healthy society that Jews and our neighbors need to flourish, together.
Contemporary Jewish Museum J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R | PA G E 1
ORDER OF THE SEDER
KADESH, URCHATZ, KARPAS, YACHATZ MAGGID, RACHTZA, MOTZI MATZAH MAROR, KORECH, SHULCHAN ORECH TZAFUN, BARECH, HALLEL, NIRTZAH Praise God for fruit of vine, and you may drink one cup of wine. In salt you dip some green. Break the matzah in between. Of three matzot on the tray, take one piece to hide away. Read how God set Israel free, rescued us from slavery. Matzah you bless and eat. With bitter herbs, charoset sweet. At last the meal takes place. But before you say the grace. Find the afikoman. Bring the supper to its end. Then recite the psalms of praise, final thanks to God we raise.
This Seder plate has its origins in the Ashkenazi (Cental and Eastern European) Jewish tradition. There are many other traditions that reflect the diversity of the Jewish diaspora.
A spring vegetable, in this case parsley, which is a symbol of renewal and hope for the future. In the service, it is dipped in salt water, which represents the tears of slavery.
A bitter herb symbolizing the bitterness endured by the Israelites during their years of bondage in Egypt.
An egg, which symbolizes rebirth and reminds us of the continuity of life.
A lamb shankbone that commemorates the paschal sacrifice that ancient Israelites brought to the Holy Temple during Passover.
A mixture of chopped fruit and nuts, representing the mortar used by the Israelites in building Egyptian monuments.
A modern-day symbol of the importance and value of women and LGBTQ+ people in both Jewish and non-Jewish societies.
The bread of affliction, reminding us of the flight from bondage, when the Israelites left Egypt in such a hurry that there was no time for the bread to rise.
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Candle-Lighting As we light these candles, we think of the journeys our ancestors took as people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. We marvel that we all have come together today to celebrate the Bay Area’s pluralistic society, as we have experienced freedom here in our own way. We commit ourselves to keep the flame of justice alive to sustain our communities. The candles’ brightness and warmth symbolize hope and the coming of redemption for oppressed people everywhere, and we pray that they will guide us in taking action to ensure freedom for everyone.
Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel yom tov. Blessed are You, Adonai, Creator of the universe, who makes us special with your commandments and teaches us to light the holiday candles.
This prayer is offered to celebrate new beginnings and joyous occasions, such as eating the fruits of a new harvest or reaching a milestone in life. Today we recite this blessing in gratitude for the opportunity of being able to celebrate our freedom together.
We Praise You, Creator of the universe, who has brought us forth, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.
Kiddush Traditionally we drink four cups of wine to symbolize the four times the Israelites were promised that they would be freed from slavery. Tonight, each of our four cups of wine or grape juice will be dedicated to exploring a vital issue currently impacting the Bay Area. We will discuss each issue through a universal lens and relate JCRC’s work on the issue to support and strengthen our Bay Area community.
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As we raise our cups, we recognize the Bay Area’s flourishing commitment to allyship, which has long supported and included Jews. Our society is strengthened when people express solidarity with marginalized groups, and join together in the fight for equity and justice. So tonight, we recommit ourselves to learning and unlearning, building trust, lifting up our diverse voices, empathizing with the oppressed, and staying present and engaged.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam bo're p'ri ha'gafen. Blessed are You, Creator of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Drink the glass of wine or juice.
REBIRTH AND RENEWAL
We dip these herbs, the karpas, into salt water in order to mingle the fresh taste of freedom with the sad memories and tears of slavery. As we do this, we become mindful of all those who still suffer under the yoke of oppression today and the need to continue to fight for freedom.
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, borei p'ri ha’damah. Blessed is the Force of Life, the strength of workers, who brings forth the fruits, grains and vegetables from our bountiful earth. Eat the parsley dipped in salt water.
BREAKING OF THE MATZAH Matzah is the bread that the Hebrew ancestors hastily prepared as they fled from Egypt. We break this matzah in half as a reminder that although the process of redemption began with the Exodus, part remains hidden. After dinner, we will share the afikoman, so that we may savor the taste of redemption and be reminded to do our share to bring about a better world.
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AFIKOMAN The hidden piece of matzah represents the stories hidden from view – which tell of the lives of many immigrants and their families, members of the LGBTQ+ community waiting for society to accept them, and those targeted simply for who they are. Until these divided parts are made one again, our Seder cannot conclude. Reuniting the afikoman symbolizes that it is in our power to make whole that which is broken and to work toward bringing freedom to everyone in the world.
TELLING THE STORY
The heart of the Seder is the maggid, a Hebrew term derived from the word Haggadah, which means “storytelling.” The story is the longest section of the Seder and is a time for thinking, discussion and, most of all, questions.
STORY OF THE EXODUS Approximately 4,000 years ago, the Jewish people were slaves in Egypt. We retell this story each year to remind ourselves of the importance of human freedom, reassuring us that freedom for all people is possible. An Israelite named Jacob took his family and settled in Egypt, where there was plenty of food. The children of Jacob lived well in Egypt, becoming a prosperous and numerically strong nation. Sometime later, a new king came to the throne of Egypt. He feared the Israelites because there were so many of them. He said, “If there is a war, they will join our enemies and fight against us.” Taskmasters were set over the Israelites, imposing heavy labor to build the cities of Pithom and Raamses, among others. The Israelites left Egypt at midnight in such a hurry that they did not have time to let their bread dough rise. Instead, they baked it immediately and it came out flat and hard—the first matzah. The Israelites escaped to the Red Sea with the Egyptians in hot pursuit. Moses said before G-d: “Ruler of the universe, what can I do?” G-d replied: “Lift up your rod!” Moses lifted his rod and the waters parted and the Israelites crossed over on dry land. From the Red Sea, the Israelites traveled on to Mount Sinai where G-d gave them the Torah. At Sinai, they entered into a covenant with G-d that sustains us to this day and teaches us to cherish a vision of the world free of oppression, discrimination and suffering.
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Gathering at the Seder table was—and is—a time to ask and discuss, a time to search for answers. It is a time to ask without fear: That, too, is a mark of our freedom.
MAH NISHTANAH, HA-LAYLAH HA-ZEH, MI-KOL HA-LEYLOT?
She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin chameytz u-matzah, ha-laylah ha-zeh, kulo matzah?
She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin sh’ar y’raqot, ha-laylah ha-zeh, maror?
She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘eyn ‘anu matbilin ‘afilu pa`am ‘achat, ha-laylah ha-zeh, shtey fe`amim?
She-b’khol ha-leylot ‘anu ‘okhlin beyn yoshvin u-veyn m’subin, ha-laylah ha-zeh, kulanu m’subin?
WHY IS THIS NIGHT DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER NIGHTS?
Why is it that on all other nights during the year we eat either bread or matzah, but on this night we eat only matzah?
Why is it that on all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?
Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip our herbs even once, but on this night we dip them twice?
Why is it that on all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining, but on this night we eat in a reclining position?
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The love of God, unutterable and perfect flows into a pure soul the way that light rushes into a transparent object. The more love that it finds, the more it gives itself; so that, as we grow clear and open the more complete the joy of heaven is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, and, mirror-like, each soul reflects the other. —DANTE, ITALIAN POET (1265-1321)
I ask all blessings, I ask them with reverence, of my mother the earth, of the sky, moon, and sun my father, I am old age: the essence of life, I am the source of all happiness. All is peaceful, all in beauty, all in harmony, all in joy. —ANONYMOUS NAVAJO (19TH-20TH CENTURY)
Both passages excerpted from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, edited by Stephen Mitchell J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R | PA G E 7
THE TEN PLAGUES In the story of Exodus, when Moses first approached Pharaoh to request that the Israelites be set free, Pharaoh refused. God responded by sending a series of 10 plagues. After each one, Moses again asked Pharaoh to free the people, and each time Pharaoh refused — or agreed, only to change his mind soon afterwards. Finally, after the 10th and worst plague, the killing of the first-born sons of Egypt — including Pharoh’s own child — he let the Israelites go. Even as we are grateful for our freedom, we are pained by the knowledge that our freedom came at the expense of great misfortune to the Egyptian people. As we recite each ancient plague, we must also reflect on the plagues that impact our world today. These plagues disproportionately impact people of color and the most vulnerable among us. As we gather together at this Seder, let us look around our tables, and recommit to the shared work of addressing these societal ills.
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10. KILLING OF THE FIRST BORN
AS WE RECITE EACH ANCIENT PLAGUE, WE MUST ALSO REFLECT ON THE PLAGUES THAT IMPACT OUR WORLD TODAY. Modern Plagues
3. BARRIERS TO
4. GUN VIOLENCE
5. CLIMATE CHANGE
6. ATTACK ON
7. WAR AND FORCED
9. HATE, BIGOTRY,
10. BROKEN CRIMINAL
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LET MY PEOPLE GO WHEN ISRAEL WAS IN EGYPT’S LAND, LET MY PEOPLE GO! OPPRESSED SO HARD THEY COULD NOT STAND, LET MY PEOPLE GO! REFRAIN: GO DOWN, MOSES, WAY DOWN IN EGYPT’S LAND; TELL OLD PHARAOH TO LET MY PEOPLE GO! YOU NEED NOT ALWAYS WEEP AND MOURN, LET MY PEOPLE GO! AND WEAR THESE SLAV’RY CHAINS FORLORN, LET MY PEOPLE GO!
In the 1980s, JCRC was heavily involved in the fight for the freedom of Soviet Jews, who were prevented from emigrating until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Eventually hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews become refugees, emigrating to Israel, the U.S., and Europe. Today the Bay Area is home to tens of thousands of these emigres. Today we recognize the countless refugees forced to flee Afghanistan due to increasingly hostile conditions. JCRC and our partner Jewish agencies are working with local Afghan American partners to support new arrivals in the United States through education and advocacy for needed resources. Today, there are still Afghans who are not safe in their home country and who are desperately trying to escape the Taliban rule. It is imperative that we recognize this modernday Exodus unfolding before us, and to raise our collective voices to say “Let my people go!”
Soviet Jews were prevented from emigrating to Israel and the West until the collapse of the Soviet Union. JCRC was heavily involved in the fight for the freedom of Soviet Jewry, and now the Bay Area is home to over 40,000 emigres. Hundreds of thousands of emigres live in the U.S., Germany and throughout Western Europe, while over 1 million live in Israel today.
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IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH
During a Passover Seder, we list the elements of God’s liberation of the Israelites and say that each one, alone, would have been enough. In Hebrew, Dayenu. Ilu hotzianu mimitzrayim, dayenu Ilu natan lanu et hashabbat, dayenu Ilu natan lanu et hatorah, dayenu
As we have already given names to issues that plague society, let us look forward to a time when our work is done and humanity can collectively look back and say “Dayenu.” READER: When all people live freely in their own countries, practicing their beliefs and cultures without interference of persecution. GROUP: Dayenu READER: When people of all ages, genders, races, religions, cultures and nations respect and appreciate one another. GROUP: Dayenu READER: When all people are free from the threat of violence, abuse and domination; when personal power and strength are not used as weapons. GROUP: Dayenu READER: When all peoples living in strife are able to create paths to a just and lasting peace. GROUP: Dayenu
As we bless our second cup of wine, we honor our diverse identities. The Bay Area is home to one of the most diverse Jewish communities in the country. We celebrate the many ways of being Jewish—culturally, religiously, ethnically, nationally, spiritually, ethically—and the intersectional identities that indelibly intertwine Jews with other communities. We are Asian, Queer, Black, Mizrahi, Indian, Latinx, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Ethiopian, Ukrainian and Russian (and other emigres from the former Soviet Union), and so much more. We are all connected and must take on each other’s struggles.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam bo're p'ri ha'gafen. Blessed are You, Creator of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Drink the glass of wine or juice. *Repair the World Freedom Seder 2020: https://werepair.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Freedom-Seder-2020.pdf J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R | PA G E 1 1
JCRC is currently highlighting the full vibrancy, diversity, and values of our community through a new initiative, Here I Am. Using video storytelling, Here I Am sheds a light on personal experiences of hate and celebrates Jewish identity. It also features videos from civic and community leaders who stand with the Jewish community during this fraught moment of rising antisemitism.
Lift up your voice! HEREIAMSTORIES.ORG
JCRC CEO Tye Gregory speaks at Here I Am: Communities United Against Antisemitism on October 25, 2021, in Oakland PA G E 1 2 | J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R
“ Since I was young,
I have pondered the social connotations of my blackness and my Jewishness in a divided society and how to embrace the beauty of my identities. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area under the guidance of two socially aware and cognizant parents, one who is a Louisiana Creole Catholic and one who is a biracial Ashkenazi Jew. ... My Magen David (Jewish star), strung around my neck, is my symbol of defiance. My natural hair is a resistance against the chemicals attempting to burn away my heritage. Kippah, Yiddish tongue and Black Panther hoodie dress my rebellion against anti-Semitism, anti-blackness and inequality. They are reminders of the promise to continue my fight for those struggling today and the next generations. For the future revolutionaries, I continue to speak, to pray, pronounce my poetry as a mechanism for healing and a dialogue against the dangers of the day. I balance our bonds upon my fingers and hands as they awaken the sky. —TOVA R I C A R D O, OA K L A N D ' S 2 0 1 5 YO U T H P O E T L AU R E AT E
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Matzah Everyone should take a piece of matzah now and eat it after the prayers. This is the bread of affliction. It reminds us of the flight from bondage, when the Jews left Egypt in such a hurry that there was no time for the bread to rise. When we eat it we remember how awful are the chains of slavery, and in the sharing of matzah we strengthen the bonds that unite us in our quest to fight slavery today.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam, hamotzi lechem min haaretz. Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al achiylat matzah. Blessed is the Source of Nourishment who gives us bread. Blessed is the Source of Nourishment who requires that we eat the bread of affliction at this season, so the memory of slavery will not be far from us.
Everyone takes a piece of bitter herb. The bitter herb stings the eyes and awakens the heart. It reminds us how the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Jewish people. It reminds us that when there is oppression anywhere, we all shall taste its bitterness.
Baruch ata Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al achilat maror. Blessed are You, Source of Salvation, who has sanctified us by the commandment to eat bitter herbs, and commanded us to taste and reflect upon the bitterness of human repression. Eat the bitter herbs.
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LET ALL WHO ARE HUNGRY, COME AND EAT. LET ALL WHO ARE IN NEED, COME AND SHARE THE PASSOVER MEAL. THIS YEAR, WE ARE STILL HERE — NEXT YEAR, IN THE PROMISED LAND. THIS YEAR, WE ARE STILL SLAVES — NEXT YEAR, FREE PEOPLE.
Passover reminds us of our obligation to reach out to the stranger, the refugee, the displaced, and the homeless — those who have been forced by conflict, persecution, and other reasons to leave all that is familiar to find safety among us. As we raise our cups, let us pause to honor the ongoing efforts by people around the world who seek to ensure that no stranger ever feels unwelcome and that all people have a place they feel safe.
A PRAYER FOR REFUGEES By Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism And so we pray… As we recount the centuries of human history, We pray that one day bondage will lead to freedom; We pray that indifference will give way to mercy; We pray that hatred will turn to compassion, and fear turn to hope. We pray that one day, nations will defy history and proclaim in one voice: Never again will terror-stricken exiles face angry waters alone; Never again will vulnerable victims be locked behind barbed wire; Never again will desperate refugees be turned away at the borders of freedom. And we vow… Until that day arrives, we will be the miracle that parts the angry seas for today’s refugees. We will take it upon ourselves to lead the mixed multitude to dry land, and we will bring them to a place of redemption. AMEN
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam bo're p'ri ha'gafen. Blessed are You, Creator of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Drink the glass of wine or juice. J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R | PA G E 1 5
Throughout history, the name of Elijah has been the sound of hope. We open the door at this time to welcome Elijah’s spirit. The open door also symbolizes the doors we must open for ourselves and for others who seek freedom from injustice. On this night, we welcome the prophet Elijah and speak of ancient promise. On this night, we reclaim a tradition of dreams. On this night, we open wide the door of hope. As the spirit of Elijah enters this room and our lives, it reminds us that hope is something we have with us here and now. Hope is not a feeling we wait for; it is a commitment to a future we will to create.
WHAT BRINGS US HOPE What brings hope in a dark time? Certainly, our successes and achievements can bring us hope for positive change, as can simply showing up for others in need. Similarly, having friends and allies who share our vision, values, and commitments brings us hope. These days even just being together in a space and enjoying in-person human interaction can bring hope. However, it is seeing resilience of youth when society is in crisis that brings the greatest hope. Witnessing the way young people have organized around issues such as gun control, the environment, the celebration of diverse identities, and other forms of civic engagement, reveals the innate goodness within us, and it is that goodness that is our best and last hope for a better tomorrow.
While we celebrate our liberation from bondage in Egypt, too many people still suffer from the vestiges of slavery in the United States. While we dream that one day there will be equity and equality across all races, to get there we must recognize past and present transgression against people of color, including Jews of color. As we raise our cups let us commit ourselves to the liberation, freedom, and equity for all those who languish.
Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech haolam bo're p'ri ha'gafen. Blessed are you, Creator of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Drink the glass of wine or juice. PA G E 1 6 | J C R C F R E E D O M S E D E R
Oseh Shalom Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yaseh shalom aleinu, V’al kol Yisrael, V’al kol yoshvei teiveil, V’imru. Amen.
May the One who makes peace in the high heavens make peace for us, for all Israel, And all who inhabit the earth. Amen.
Closing WE END OUR PASSOVER SEDER BY SAYING IN UNISON: MAY SLAVERY GIVE WAY TO FREEDOM, MAY HATE GIVE WAY TO LOVE MAY IGNORANCE GIVE WAY TO WISDOM, MAY DESPAIR GIVE WAY TO HOPE NEXT YEAR, AT THIS TIME, MAY EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE, BE FREE!
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This Haggadah belongs to you. Guests are welcome to take extra copies from the table for future Seders. We care about our environment and strongly encourage the reuse of this Haggadah. Please bring the themes and concepts of JCRC’s Freedom Seder into your own family and community Seders. If you don’t wish to keep it, please leave it on the table at the entrance of the room.
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