The Freedom Seder

Throughout Jewish history, there have been, and continue to be, variations of the traditional Haggadah for the telling of the story of Pesach, aka Passover. We have the traditional ones, Haggadahs centered around the experience of a particular marginalized group, and secular Haggadahs for kibbutzniks in Israel.

I have an original copy, dated from 1969-1970, of the Freedom Seder, developed by Arthur Waskow, rabbi, climate activist, and founder of the Shalom Center, an organization focusing on a Jewish response to social problems. The original edition, like all the other editions of the Haggadah, follows the traditional order f the Seder-the Seder plate, the washing of hands, the telling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, the Four Cups, the Cup for Elijah, the Ten Plagues, the breaking of the Matzah, the Afikomen, etc. It also includes quotes from the great social justice leaders in history, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and AJ Muste, and it directs attention to the social justice issues of that day, such as war, Civil Rights, and pollution, along with quotes from contemporary singers and poets, such as Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg.

The beauty of the Freedom Seder is, you can adapt it to discussing the current social issues of this day, such as pollution, Civil Rights, and war-still important today as it was back in the ‘Sixties. The struggle for a just world is ongoing, and the Freedom Seder shows that the we have a tradition to guide us in our struggle, and a community to take part in the struggle.

traditional jewish matzo
Photo by cottonbro on
Hemperiffic Card

Parshat Terumah

This weekend we studied the Torah portion Terumah, Exodus 25:1-27:19. God outlines to Moses the plans for the construction of the Mishkan, the traveling tabernacle the Israelites carried while in the wilderness. God, the Ruler of the Universe, dictates the elements of the construction of the Mishkan-the cloth it’s made of, the setting of the jewelry, the fixing of the poles for setting up. This shows God intervening in the concrete affairs of humans.

This work requires the efforts of the entire community and its skills-stonemasons, carpenters, weavers, tailors, etc.; in fact, it symbolized and embodied the community, showing that each person, and each class in the community, has a role to play in the community’s development.