Supplementary Seder Readings

Remembering the oppressed--and others in need--at the seder

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We give thanks unto the Eternal for the wartime miracles and wonders He wrought for us. The mercies of the Eternal stood us in good stead in time of dire peril, when seven nations united to destroy and annihilate the Jewish state at the very time of its birth and yet once again they pledge to annihilate the land and its people and plunge it into rivers of blood and fire. The Eternal, in His loving kindness, frustrated the designs of our enemies and vouchsafed victory unto us, bringing us again to Jerusalem in joy.

Fighting Contemporary Slavery

Rabbi Joel Soffin of Temple Shalom in Succasunna, New Jersey, wrote the following prayer to be included in the Passover seder. It expresses empathy for people living as victims of slavery today and commits to helping free them. (You may say this prayer at any point during the seder. We recommend saying it after the Bread of Affliction reading--Ha Lachma Anya--which immediately precedes the Four Questions.)

On this holiday when we are commanded to relive the bitter experience of slavery, we place a fourth matzah with the traditional three and recite this prayer (recite while holding the Fourth Matzah):

"We raise this fourth matzah to remind ourselves that slavery still exists, that people are still being bought and sold as property, that the Divine image within them is yet being denied. We make room at our seder table and in our hearts for those in southern Sudan and in Mauritania who are now where we have been.

We have known such treatment in our own history. Like the women and children enslaved in Sudan today, we have suffered while others stood by and pretended not to see, not to know. We have eaten the bitter herb, we have been taken from our families and brutalized. We have experienced the horror of being forcibly converted. In the end, we have come to know in our very being that none can be free until all are free.

And so, we commit and recommit ourselves to work for the freedom of these people. May the taste of this 'bread of affliction' remain in our mouths until they can eat in peace and security. Knowing that all people are Yours, O God, we will urge our government and all governments to do as You once commanded Pharaoh on our behalf, 'Shalah et Ami! Let MY People Go!'"

-- Reprinted with permission from iAbolish: The Anti-Slavery Portal.

Orange Reading

The following refers to the contemporary custom of some Jews to place an orange on the seder plate in solidarity with marginalized Jewish groups.

And, there are those who add: The orange carries within itself the seeds of its own rebirth. When we went forth from the Narrow Place, Mitzrayim (Egypt), the Jewish people passed through a narrow birth canal and broke the waters of the Red Sea. As we women step forward to claim our full role in Judaism, we too can be full participants in a Jewish rebirth. Our place in Judaism will be as visible as the orange on our seder plate.

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