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APN Passover Haggadah Readings

On Passover, we acknowledge the struggle that Israel and her neighbors still wage for peace and security.

Each year, APN sends to our friends and colleagues some language which can be added to the reading of the Haggadah. We believe it is important that as we recount the history of our journey from Egypt to freedom, that we acknowledge the struggle that Israel and her neighbors still wage for peace and security.

The readings below come from Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Rabbi Mordechai Leibling, Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon, Rabbi Douglas Krantz, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Burton L. Visotzy, and Rabbi Andrew Bachman.

We wish you all a Hag Sameach and may we all pray for peace. Shalom.

submitted by Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky

(At the pouring of the fourth cup of wine)

Reject Hate, Embrace Hope, Recommit to Peace!

Traditionally, we fill this cup to welcome the Prophet Elijah, who heralds the start of the Messianic era. For centuries, we have recited Psalm 79:6-7: "Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know you and on the kingdoms that do not call upon Your name. They have devoured Jacob and made desolate his dwellings."

In the Middle Ages, Jews invoked this fantasy of divine retribution as a poultice for the wounds inflicted during our long history. This bitterness was understandable, if unproductive. Now we live in a time that we are ostensibly free, yet the nations who actually invoke God's name continue to desolate one another. God's Holy Land is riven by terror and revenge. Jacob's forbears, Isaac and Ishmael, remain gripped in the medieval mind-set. Despair makes us yearn for the arrival of Elijah.

We cannot bear to wait any longer. We cannot endure endless war. Elijah seems but a faint hope, not a solution. Tonight, we open the door to our neighbors, to dwelling with one another in quiet and shared delight. As we open the door we raise our fourth cup in a toast to the fresh breeze of renewed commitment, to the rejection of hate, to embracing hope, and to the hard work of making peace. And, we raise our glasses to life. We pray this "LeChaim," will bring us the longed-for redemption. Let this be the way we welcome Elijah

* Submitted by Rabbi Melissa Weintraub

(To be read at the time of Elijah's Cup)

Passover enjoins us to both hope and responsibility.

Do you still believe in the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you live inside that hope - act from within that hope - with drive, determination, and faith that your hope will be redeemed?

Each year we reenact the capacity to break the bonds of slavery and to pass into a new and holy destiny. In this imagined crossing from bondage to redemption, we recall 2000 years of persecution and survival. We recall Israel's rise from the ashes of the Holocaust - for many contemporary Jews, the consummate Exodus from Egypt.

Within a century, our people erected impressive institutions of state in the wake of near total decimation - transformed nightmare atrocity into the realization of an ancient dream - a marvel even for the most dubious and critical among us of the nation-building project. And yet how many of us, wherever we stand politically, have given up hope of transforming Israel's impasse with its neighbors?

It is Passover, and it is time to renew our hope. It is time to live inside our hope - and to act from within that hope, accepting agency and responsibility for our capacity to pass into a new destiny, to relinquish the self-defeating narratives and actions that keep us mired in stalemate bondage.

As we open the door for Elijah - to our potential, to the latent possibilities of our future - let us take a moment to tap into our passionate hope that there is a way forward, and it is up to us to step towards it.

Let us recall our hope when we were most hopeful, our trust when we were most trustful in the other and in ourselves. Let us imagine a better situation and us as the agents to actualize it. What will you do in the coming year to act from within that hope? What will you try that you have not yet tried? Who will you talk to that you have not yet talked to? Who will you seek anew to hear and understand? What will you hope for, and what will you undertake?

* Submitted by Rabbi Andrew Bachman

(May be read before the dipping of the Karpas)

On this night we sanctify our Freedom with food and drink and community.

We recall stories of struggle and redemption, reminding ourselves of the shackles that bind us while daring to dream of what new horizons of liberation await.

Each taste on the plate bears more than one message, sings in more than one voice, challenges us with more than one demand.

In this moment of Ultimate Responsibility for our Story of Freedom, we consider the Karpas, symbol of spring and rebirth. Our rabbis taught that Karpas was a hint to the Ketonet Pasim, the Many Colored Tunic that Joseph wore but was dipped in blood in his staged murder by his brothers when Joseph was sold into Egyptian bondage. Jealousy and Hatred among Brothers, the rabbis taught, led to our enslavement as a people.

So as we dip this Karpas, this Parsley of Spring and Hope, into the Bitter Tears of Slavery, we rededicate ourselves to the eradication of both the internal strife among our brothers and sisters in the Jewish people as well as the external hatreds and differences that impede the road to Justice for all people everywhere.

May we echo the Psalmist and say with a full heart and soul: Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.

This year we are slaves to the world's injustices; next year may we be free.

* Submitted by Rabbi Mordechai Liebling

(To be read after Avadeem Hayinu L'Pharaoh)

Once again the B'nai Yisrael - the people Israel - have a Pharoah, one that this time they share with the Palestinians. This is a Pharoah of the heart and mind, the Pharoah of dehumanization, distrust and despair. And once again God's help is needed to attain freedom. The mighty arm that lays seige to a village and the outstretched hand that throws a terrorist bomb are the tools of Pharoah and not of God. God acts through stretching our minds to hear the other and opening our hearts to understand the other. Tonight is a night of story telling. The freedom of the Israelis and Palestinians, both the children of Abraham, will come more quickly if we can learn to tell each other's stories in addition to our own.

* Submitted by Rabbi J. Rolando Matalon

(May be recited at the end of the time of Elijah's Cup or at the end of the seder)

Mekor HaHayyim, Oseh HaShalom,

O God, Source of Life, Creator of Peace,

In this hour of horror and destruction,

Of panic and fear,

Send Your consolation to the mourners,

Your healing to the wounded,

And Your courage and patience to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples

So that they may withstand these dreadful moments.

Help Your creatures, anguished and confused,

To understand the futility of hatred and violence

And grant them the ability to stretch across political, religious and national boundaries

So they may resume the search for justice, peace and truth.

On this Festival of our Liberation,

Help us to free ourselves from the straits of narrow-mindedness,

>From the prejudices and patterns of behavior

That keep us chained in an endless circle of victims and victimizers.

Help us to free ourselves,

By freeing each other, from the need to inflict suffering and pain.

May all Your creatures be guided by the vision of Your prophets:

"Venatati shalom ba-aretz ushekhavtem ve-ein mahrid,

I will bring peace to the land and you shall lie down and no one shall terrify you."

"Let love and justice flow like a mighty stream

Let peace fill the earth as the waters fill the sea."

With every fiber of our being we beg You, O God,

To help us not to fail nor falter in the path of peace.


* Submitted by Rabbi Douglas Krantz

(To be read after Yachatz)

Our mothers and fathers ate the bread of affliction every day when our ancestors were in Egypt. Tonight we gather around tables filled with the bounty of food, and the warmth of love, and endeavor to see ourselves as if we ourselves went forth from Egypt, with minds and bodies nurtured only on the bread of affliction.

We are aware of Israelis who hunger for security, who are afflicted with terror, and who yearn for acceptance in our world as a people of a nation with a sacred mission.

We are aware of Palestinians afflicted with poverty, who desire nothing more than to raise their families in an independent state, free of the burden of occupation, and able to build a future of their own choosing.

Only peace can feed the souls and salve the wounds of Israelis and Palestinians today.

Only peace can offer sustenance to two peoples struggling side by side, afflicted with anger, burdened with pain.

Only peace -- peace now -- can allow our brothers and sisters to escape the bondage of their violence.

When they are vulnerable, we are vulnerable.

When they are insecure, we are insecure.

For us to see ourselves as if we went forth from Egypt means to recognize that all of God's children hunger for justice, hunger to be free from the bonds of conflict that oppress the human spirit, and hunger to celebrate life with love and hope, bread and peace.

* Submitted by Rabbi Sharon Brous

(To be read before Urhatz)

A Kavannah, A Word of Intention: Thresholds

One of the first rites of the Seder is urhatz, the ritual washing of hands.

We stand at a threshold in the evening. We are about to tell the story that reignites our imagination that the world can look different than it does - that every single human being can live with dignity and honor, that peace, justice and freedom can be realized, that prayers can be heard and hearts healed. Before we can truly hear this story, we must transition from the mundane and the cynical of our work lives to the holy and the hopeful of the holiday. The signpost of our transition is a symbolic hand washing.

Similarly, this Passover we find ourselves in a threshold moment. Like the first signs of spring after a long, dark winter, we finally face the prospect of real peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

How will we find the courage and faith to work to make the dream a reality? We must first wash away our bitterness and our suspicion, our narrow-mindedness and our doubt, until we are prepared to embrace the profound possibility of shalom.

Unlike nearly every other element of the Seder, this washing is unaccompanied by a blessing, perhaps because the washing, itself, is a blessing.