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Pesach 5773 Seder

Pesach 5773 Seder

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Published by J. Todd Ormsbee
My personal seder, based on the New American Haggadah, but with additional readings from several other Haggadot and from Siddur Sha'ar Zahav.
My personal seder, based on the New American Haggadah, but with additional readings from several other Haggadot and from Siddur Sha'ar Zahav.

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Published by: J. Todd Ormsbee on Mar 25, 2013
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 Haggadah Beit Ormsbee Pesach 5773 
Readying for the Rite of Freedom & Springtime
A. On Judaism, God-Language, & the Passover Seder
 We come together tonight from many different traditions & with many different views of G-d and the sacred.Here at the table are the newly Jewish, the atheist, the recovering catholic, the pagan, the secularist, theChristians. The Jewish tradition is market by the name
, the new name given to Judah after he wrestled with the Lord in the desert. Wrestling with god, the sacred, meaning, and each other is the hallmark of Judaismand at the heart of tonight’s seder; as questions, problems, disagreements arise, take note of them and, if you’recomfortable, share them with the table.The traditional seder uses theistic language to tell its story of bondage & redemption, and the hope and awe that we feel in our own freedom.Rabbi Arthur Green asks, “What does it mean to be
in a Jewish context ... if one does not‘believe in God’...?
The sacred
refers to an inward, mysterious sense of awesome presence, a realitydeeper than the kind we ordinarily experience. ... When the
 mask of ordinariness
falls away, ourconsciousness is left with a moment of nakedness, a confrontation with a reality that we do not knowhow to put into language. The astonishment of such moments ... my most revered teacher termed
 radical  amazement. ...
For me, God is not an intellectual proposition, but rather the ground of life itself. It is thename I give to the reality I encounter in the kind of moment I have been describing....”
— from
 Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 3-4.
 As we read the Haggadah together and contemplate Spring time, rebirth, slavery and redemption, feel free to think about whatever the
means to you as we read of the Jewish story of and the people of Israel. As we read from the
 New American Haggadah
, feel free to browse around, read the timeline at the top of the pages, ponder different meditations, read the skipped parts, contemplate the art. The Seder should be fun, social,stimulating, perplexing, infuriating, inspiring, renewing, meditative, prayerful, and irreverent. All at once.
B. Kavanot (Intentions)
1.We think of our own bondage, the things that hold us back, that keep us captive, that enslave us, and we hopefor freedom and new beginnings. We read responsively from Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach
, Version 7.1Leader: Long ago at this season, our people set out on a journey
Guests: On such a night as this, Israel went from degradation to joy.
 We give thanks for the liberation of days gone by.
 And we pray for all who are still bound.
Eternal God, may all who hunger come to rejoice in a new Passover.
 Let all the human family sit at Your table, drink the wine of deliverance, eat the bread of Freedom.
Freedom from Bondage
 and freedom from Oppression
Freedom from Hunger
 and freedom from Want 
Freedom from Hatred
 and freedom from Fear
Freedom to Think
 and freedom to Speak
Freedom to Teach
 and freedom to Learn
Freedom to Love
 and freedom to Share
Freedom to Hope
 and freedom to Rejoice
Soon and in our days.
2.And we think of the bondage of others, our neighbors, our city and nation, in the whole world, those enslaved by poverty, sweatshops, the global sex trade, and war. From the Religious Action Center’s
Social Justice Haggadah
(2013), we read:Standing on the parted shores of history We still believe what we were taughtBefore wever we stood at Sinai’s foot;That wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt;That there is a better place, a promised land;That the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness;That there is no way to get from here to thereExcept by joining hands and marching together.Tonight we are all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, brothers and sisters in the celebration of Freedom, and our redemption is bound up with the deliverance from bondage of people everywhere. Itis aid in the Talmud that in the days when the world is more perfect, we will remember not just the liberation from Egypt, but the liberation of all people from oppression. Truly, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice to any people is a threat to justice to all people’ (Martin LutherKing, Jr.,
 Letter from a Birmingham Jail 
C.A Brief History Lesson
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
: “Once we had two spring festivals: Pesach, a lambing holiday, andChag ha-Matzah, a holiday celebrating the year’s first grain. In the second half of the thirteenth centuryBCE, when some traditions tell us our people left Egypt, the two celebrations become one. The namePesach comes from
, “to pass over” (as ha-Shem passed over the houses of the Hebrews in Egypt),and
came to mean the unleavened bread, which represents the haste of our departure fromEgypt.Passover has four aspects. It is seasonal, rejoicing in Spring. It is historical, marking the ‘birthday’ of theJewish people. It is a festival of freedom, a time of rejoicing and gratitude. And it is a ritual of  preparation for an ultimate redemption, of which our first redemption was a hint and a promise.”
D. Shel Yom Tov (Holy Day Light)
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
: “May the light of the candles we kindle together tonight bringradiance to all who still live in darkness. May this season, marking the deliberance of our people fromPharaoh, rouse us against anyone who keeps others in servitude. In gratitude for the freedom we enjoy,may we strive to bring about our own liberation and the liberation of all people everywhere.”Read from the
 New American Haggadah
, pp. 5Light the Festival Candles
 ha-Seder (The Order)
 , pp. 6 [read together]
I. Kadesh (Hallowing [the Evening])
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
: “This first cup of wine reminds us of God’s first declaration, V’hotzaiti—I will bring you out from oppression.”
The First Cup — NAH,
 pp. 9
The Shehechyanu
—bottom of 
 pp. 11Meditation on the Kiddush: The Library,
 pp. 13
II. Urchatz (Washing [the Hands])
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
: “This symbolic washing of the hands recalls the story of Miriam's Well. Legend tells us that this well followed Miriam, sister of Moses, through the desert, sustaining theJews in their wanderings. Filled with
 mayimei chayyim
, waters of life, the well was a source of strengthand renewal to all who drew from it. One drink from its waters was said to alert the heart, mind andsoul, and make the meaning of Torah become more clear.6 In Hebrew,
means “washing” or“cleansing.” In Aramaic, sister language to Hebrew,
means “trusting.” As we wash each others’hands, let us rejoice in this act of trust.
 Hand Washing:
Silently pour water over the hands of the person to your left, until everyone has ritually cleansed themselves (
 pp. 14)
III. Karpas (Dipping [the Green: Greeting the Spring])
For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of thesinging of birds is come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land....
Shir ha-Shirim
(Song of Songs) 2:12-13from Elwell & Weisberg,
The Open Door Haggadah
: “This is the season when life begins. In the month of Nisan the earth softens. Seeds of hope push toward the light. Our telling begins with remembering that tears often clear the path to growth.” pp. 24Blessing the Karpas,
 pp. 14
Spring Vegetable Dipped in Tears of Affliction:
Dip a piece of parsley into the salt water and eat.
IV. Yachatz (Splitting [the Matzot])
 Breaking the Middle Matzah
 pp. 15)Read
 pp. 17Meditation on the Poor Man’s Bread: Nation,
 pp. 19
V. Maggid (Telling [the Tale])
The Four Questions,
 pp. 21from
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
: “In addition to the Four Questions, tonight we ask ourselves a fifth: We are commanded to celebrate as if each one of us were personally liberated from Egypt. In the last year, how have you been liberated from bondage—and in the next year, how do you hope to bring yourself closer to your place of freedom? Avadim Hayinu, Once We Were Slaves: read
, pp. 22Blessing,
 pp. 26The Four Children,
 pp. 29Meditation on the Four Children: Library,
 pp. 30“And we are saved,”
 pp. 35The Aramean,
 pp. 36The Egyptians,
 pp. 45Cry Out for Freedom,
 pp. 47 & 49Meditation on “The Lord Heard Our Voices”: Library,
 pp. 53 With Signs and Wonders,
 pp. 54
The Plagues
Three Drops of Wine,
 pp. 61Naming the Plagues & Ten Drops of Wine,
 pp. 63Three More Drops of Wine,
 pp. 63from
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
:These plagues are in the past, but today’s world holds plagues as well. Let us spill drops of wine as werecite: these ten new plagues.
in the face of evil
Brutality &
torture of the helpless
& mockery of the old and the weak
and hopelessness
of the joy of others
, lies, & deception corroding our faith
Greed &
theft of earth’s resources
of learning, culture, and intellect
of war, aggression, and violence
delayed, justice denied, justice mocked...Shekhinah, soften our hearts and the hearts of our enemies. Help us to dream new paths to freedom,so that the next sea-opening is not also a drowning; so that our singing is never again their wailing. So that our freedom leaves no one orphaned, childless, gasping for air.Meditation on the Ten Plagues: House of Study,
 pp. 66Read
 pp. 69Dayenu,
 pp. 70
Traditional Signs and Symbols of the Seder Plate
, pp. 73from
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
:Jewish tradition grows by accretion. Rabban Gamaliel cherished three symbols; tonight we will explainseven! One for each day of the week; one for each of the seven lower sefirot / aspects of divinity. And they are:
The Maror
, bitter herb or horseradish, which represents the bitterness of slavery.
The Charoset 
, a mixture of apples and nuts and wine, which represents the bricks and mortar we madein ancient times, and the new structures we are beginning to build in our lives today.
The Lamb Shank bone
(or: beet [or turkey femur!]) which represents the sacrifices we have made tosurvive.*2 Before the tenth plague, our people slaughtered lambs and marked our doors with blood: because of this marking, the Angel of Death passed over our homes and our first- born were spared.
The Egg
, which symbolizes creative power, our rebirth.
The Parsley
, which represents the new growth of spring, for we are earthy, rooted beings, connected to the Earth and nourished by our connection.
 Salt water
of our tears, both then and now.
of our unleavened hearts: may this Seder enable our spirits to rise.
In the early 1980s, Susannah Heschel attended a feminist seder where bread was placed on the seder plate, a reaction to a rebbetzin who had claimed lesbians had no more place in Judaism than breadcrusts have at a seder.“Bread on the seder plate...renders everything chametz, and its symbolism suggests that being lesbian is transgressive, violating Judaism,” Heschel writes. “I felt that an orange was suggestive of somethingelse: the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life.”16 To speak of slavery and long for liberation, she says, “demands that we acknowledge ourown complicity in enslaving others.”17One additional item on our seder plate, therefore, is an orange, representing the radical feminist notion that there is—there must be—a place at the table for all of us, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.May our lives be inclusive, welcoming, and fruitful.“Exotic Fruit” from
Siddur Sha’ar Zahav
pp. 21Sometimes we are called ‘fruit’ people, and while it is meant as an insult, we take it as a blessing indisguise. A recognition of the sweet breath of God’s creation. And we take it as an opportunity to openup to the sweet, and the tart, in all of us. May we honor strange fruit that is ripe with the possibility of miracles. May we recognize that there is more than just one way to be fruitful and multiply. Before we taste, we hesitate and remember that fear and hostility many feel when faced with something they thinkis strange, different — forbidden. May we be open to the miracle, and bring to taste the sweet fruits born from the seeds of liberation planted by our gay and lesbian forbears.[Read together]“Communal Prayer of Remembrance” from
Siddur Sha’ar Zahav,
 pp. 491O God, remember today those members of our family who were martyred in years past because of theirsexual or gender identity: those murdered by fanatics in the Middle Ages, those who perished in theHolocaust, and those struck down in our own cities in our own time. Remember also those who took their own lives, driven to despair by a world that hated them. ANd in mercy remember those who lived lives of loneliness, repressing their true nature, and refraining from sharing their love with one another.O God, watch over the souls of these beloved ones: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and help us bring an end to hate and oppression of all kinds.
The Olives
The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah
:“The final item on our seder plate is an olive. After the Flood, Noah’s dove brought back an olive branchas a sign that the earth was again habitable. Today ancient olive groves are destroyed by violence,making a powerful symbol of peace into a casualty of war. We keep an olive on our seder plate as anembodied prayer for peace, in the Middle East and every place where war destroys lives, hopes, and thefreedoms we celebrate tonight.”from Rebecca Vilkomerson is the executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace (in
 Jewish Daily Forward
,March 22, 2013):“The olive tree is a universal and ancient symbol of hope and peace. And sadly, the destruction of Palestinian olive trees by Israeli settlers and the Israeli army is just one example of the way that Israeli policies systematically deny Palestinians of even their most basic rights.In February, I spent a day in the Palestinian village of Jayyous. I saw with my own eyes where ancientolive trees had been recently torn from the land. I saw theCaterpillar bulldozerthat had ripped themfrom their roots, with its owner in tears nearby. And I saw pictures of where the stolen olive trees had been prettily replanted in a nearby settlement. An olive on my Seder plate reminds me to ask myself, as Rabbi Brant Rosen, co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council, writes: “How will we, as Jews, bear witness to the unjust actionscommitted in our name? Will these olives inspire us to be bearers of peace and hope for Palestinians —and for all who are oppressed?”Dor V’dor,
 pp. 77Meditation on “In Every Generation”: Nation,
 pp. 78
 pp. 81 (top paragraph only)Poetic interpretation of Psalm 114 by David Rosenberg (from
Open Door Haggadah
, pp. 70) When Israel came out of Egypt / like a child suddenly free / from a people of strange speechJudah became a home / for the Children of Israel / as they became a sanctuaryfor the God of their fathers — / the House of Israel / were brought into the openand as the Sea saw them coming / it ran from teh sight / the Jordan stopped dead in its tracksmountains leaped like frightened rams / hills were a scattering flock / of lambs What was so alarming, Sea? / Jordan, what vision / drained your strength away?Mountains, why did you quake / like fearful rams? / HIlls why did you jump like lambs? All earth, tremble / in the presence / of your makerit was God of Jacob / and he is here / all around youa sudden pool of water / from a desert rock / a fountain from wilderness stone — life from a heart of stone / and from bitter tears / a sweet land.The Second Cup,
 pp. 85 (top paragraph)Blessing & Drink the Second Cup,
 pp. 85 (bottom paragraph)
 VI. Rachatzah (Being Washed)
 pp. 87 Washing the Hands a Second Time, pour water over the hands of the person to your left Wait in silence until everyone’s hands are washed, then...
 VII. Motzi (Bringing Forth [Blessing the Bread])
Blessing the Meal (Bread),
 pp. 87
 VIII. Matzah (Unleavened Bread [Eating the Poor Man’s Bread])

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