Pesach is the holiday of our liberation. In these turbulent times, with anti-Semitism on the rise alongside Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, hatred for LGBT people, and other forms of bigotry, we are more aware than ever that our own liberation is bound up with the liberation of all peoples.
The parts of our seder when we open the door are prime moments for bringing these contemporary considerations into the ancient rituals of seder. Here are some resources to promote and extend your discussion:
- Download and print T’ruah’s mezuzah card (if you didn’t receive one in the mail or want extras). Affix it to your doorpost during your seder.
- Read and discuss the excerpt below, adapted from The Other Side of the Sea: A Haggadah on Fighting Modern-Day Slavery, which offers a new perspectve on the two times we open the door during the seder.
- Look at the entire Haggadah as a resource, or just a portion of it. Victims of human trafficking, undocumented immigrants, and refugees are three distinct populations, but there are similarities in their situations, their vulnerability, and how we can help. The following sections of the Haggadah are particularly relevant:
- Discuss how modern anti-Semitism intersects with our collective memories of past anti-Semitism (most relevantly, when America closed its doors to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany) and with other anti-minority sentiment in America today.
- Use this haggadah supplement on ending mass incarceration as a starting point for discussing the connections between immigration enforcement and policing. How do we build a society where all people are safe?
The authors of the seder chose this moment to express their anger at the dangerous anti-Semitic world they lived in. While such anger may need a new target today, that does not mean it has no place at the table. Rabbi Mishael Zion, Community Scholar and Rabbi at the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel, teaches that the seder’s two door-openings are fundamentally opposites. When we opened the door at Ha Lachma Anya, we focused on local injustice; we, from our position of privilege, are the ones capable of feeding those who are hungry. Here, late in the seder, we open ourselves up to the massive injustices that affect the entire world. We give ourselves permission to name our anger at the fact that Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia still exists in the 21st century, to recognize our limitations, and to cry out, asking God to show up as an avenger of injustice. In the words of Psalm 94, the Psalm for Wednesday:
!אֵל נְקָמוֹת ה’ אֵל נְקָמוֹת הוֹפִיעַ
God of vengeance, Adonai; God of vengeance, appear!
The world we want to see will have no need of our righteous indignation, but until that world is here, we cannot afford to ignore those darker feelings.