Friday, March 24, 2017

Seder Suggestions: I did all the research so you don’t have to!

Seder Suggestions: I did all the research so you don’t have to!
Here are some Passover and Haggadah-related downloads that I recommend to enhance your Seders.  Freedom and liberation are what Passover is all about, along with a healthy dose of Jewish identity.  I’ve tried to find examples that span the ideological spectrum - but note that Passover by its very nature is activist.  Think of Nachshon, the intrepid Israelite who needed to be the first to go into the Red Sea before God would cause it to split.  Yes, there is a Haggadah for everyone.  If you are planning to invite some anti-Semites to your table, you can even make them feel right at home by Googling “Seder of Hate” (I won’t link to it) and downloading some garbage from one of the most notorious anti-Semitic blogs out there.
For a good introduction to all things Passover, you can download my own “Guide to the Perplexed,” as well as the Rabbinical Assembly 5777 Passover Guide, which will answer all those nagging questions about what to buy.  See also the recent responsum allowing Ashkenazic Jews to eat “kitniyot” (legume-type products, including rice).
  • A “Dayenu” discussion guide, courtesy of Sh’ma- ““Dayenu,” then, is an instruction for cultivating gratitude. Sometimes, it is more difficult to summon real gratitude for the big things: My life is great. Ho hum. But when I break it down, I see: I have hot water and fresh ground coffee in the morning. I have people who love and support me when I am sad or discouraged. When I begin “labeling my praise,” I see that, in fact, these things are wondrous. And the sum of them all is overwhelming. I can sincerely say, “It would have been enough. In fact, it is enough.” 
  • American Jewish World Service Global Justice Haggadah: “Next Year in a Just World-extends the journey further: into the 21st century and around the globe. On Seder night, as we taste tears in the salt water, eat the bitter herbs and recount the plagues, we connect our story with those of people who suffer from a range of issues that matter deeply today: refugee crises and genocide, global hunger, poverty, violence against women and LGBT people, and the persecution of minorities.” 
  • The HIAS 2017 Haggadah Supplement, which highlights the refugee crisis. “As we step into this historical experience, we cannot help but draw to mind the 65 million displaced people and refugees around the world today fleeing violence and persecution, searching for protection. Like our ancestors, today’s refugees experience displacement, uncertainty, lack of resources, and the complete disruption of their lives.” 
  • For This We Left Egypt? A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them - I bought this new Haggadah parody by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach nearly cracked my matzas in laughter. 
  • The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah - This one is getting all the buzz.  This Haggadah compares the search for chametz with Harry Potter’s search for the Horcruxes.  I just want to see how Elijah learned that hidden wine trick.  I think the spell is: “No-spillum Manischevum!” 
  • Repair the World: A series of readings with a focus on racial justice, including a guide to respectful conversationsPassover and Food Justice (a “bread of affliction” reading)  a Passover pyramid cutout, and this Four (Children) People table reading“Tonight, let’s speak about four people striving to engage in racial justice. They are a complicated constellation of identity and experience; they are not simply good or bad, guileless or silent. They are Jews of Color and white Jews. They are Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi; they are youth, middle-aged, and elders. They are a variety of people who are at different stages of their racial justice journey. Some of them have been on this journey for their entire lives, and for some, today is the first day. Some of them are a part of us, and others are quite unfamiliar. What do they say? They ask questions about engaging with racial justice as people with a vested interest in Jewishness and Jewish community. How do we answer? We call them in with compassion, learning from those who came before us.” 
  • Exodus Conversations - Exodus Conversations features side by side presentations of the story of the Exodus as presented in the Qur’an and in the Book of Exodus.  At sixteen places in the Seder, three scholars - a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim discuss issues that arise from the text.  
  • Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah (Rabbi Rachel Berenblat) - I use this one a lot. “Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs- Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah-whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.” 
  • Song of Liberation Haggadah (Emily Aviva Kapor) - “Is this really a fair answer to the wicked child? The phrase ‘kafar ba-ikar’ literally means “he has committed heresy in this matter.” Should people who don’t see eye-to-eye with everyone in their community about all matters be excluded like this? Is the wicked child truly past rehabilitation?” 
  • Living our Commitment: Racial Justice Haggadah- “We ask that this year you consider what it means to recline when so many are not yet free from oppression. This is not a simple question, and so there is no simple answer. In solidarity, you may choose not to recline. Or perhaps we can rest tonight in order to let go of the weight of our fears - our fear of others; of being visible as Jews; of committing to work outside of what is familiar and comfortable - so that we may lean into struggle tomorrow.”
  • Earth Justice Haggadah - Tips on how to have your greenest Seder ever. 
  • The Love and Justice Haggadah -“We see Jewishness as many things - a spiritual practice, and a collection of many deeply connected cultures and ethnicities.” The creators call this a “spiritually-resonant, politically progressive mutli-cultural, multi-ethnic Haggadah

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