Passover is חג החרות, the Holiday of Freedom, the grand tale of ancient Jewish suffering followed by divine and prophetic liberation.
I am sure that many of our Sedarim, over the years, have also addressed modern enslavement and liberation, including readings or documents from the ultimate Jewish catastrophe [שואה], as well as the American Egypt until 1865 and its aftermath in Jim Crow, up until to today’s horrific sex trafficking and cocoa industries and others.
In 2017, with Syria in crisis and domestic ethnic and racial tension running high, this year it seems particularly urgent for us to mark Pesach by referring to oppression beyond the ancient Pharaohs. As they always do, Jewish social activists have produced interesting material to enhance your Seder. I recommend to you some of what follows.
For a good summary and a collection of good links, check out this article in the Times of Israel.
Among pieces referenced there, check out HIAS’ presentation on the global refugee crisis. Incidentally, at Ansche Chesed, we will be hosting a refugee family at our public 2nd seder at the shul. And if you want to get all funky midrashic about it, this year, the Haggadah screams out for a new, creative mis-translation: ארמי אובדאביshould be rendered as “my ancestor was a Syrian refugee.”
As always, the American Jewish World Service produces excellent material. Check out their Global Justice Haggadah and other resources on that page.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of Israel’s miraculous victory in 1967 – and also the 50th year of military government of the West Bank – you might want to check out the Jubilee Haggadah, which can be purchased at Amazon or downloaded here. It was edited by Tomer Persico, an outstanding Israeli scholar of contemporary Jewish thinker, sponsored by “Save Israel. Stop the Occupation.”
Finally, in recent years, our collective attention has focused more on racial justice and injustice at home. We recognize the persistent, insistent demand to address anti-black violence and racism. And as the American Jewish community grows ever more interracial, we should recognize that racism is an immediate and urgent problem facing our black brothers and sisters, too. I invite you to consult “The Four People,” a Haggadah produced by Repair the World and the Jewish Multiracial Network.
I hope one or more of these pressing issues will enhance your Seder.
Wishing you a sweet and Kosher Pesach, for you and me, for all Israel and for the world.