Reader 1: This week Jews all over the world are observing Pesakh at their own Seders. The word "Seder" means "order", and "Hagada" means "The Telling." The traditional Hagada contains very specific rituals and readings. Our Hagada has been changed to include a secular content emphasizing the ideal of the struggle for freedom and human dignity.
Reader 2: Pesakh has been observed by the Jewish people for more than 3,000 years. The holiday was celebrated by many: a slave in Herod's court, a foot soldier who fought with the Maccabees, a Jewish courtier in Arab Spain, the Hasidim worldwide, and the Jewish immigrants crowded in New York's East Side tenements. All have celebrated the holiday of Pesakh.
Reader 3: The ways of observing it have been many, the languages spoken have been diverse, the garments worn have been varied, the circumstances have been as surprising as history, but one idea in the festival has not changed - that it is a celebration of freedom. In Jewish tradition, Pesakh, is known as "The Season of Our Liberation."
Reader 4: In song, in myth, in literature, in history, the Jews have associated Pesakh with liberation - liberation from winter, from bondage, from oppression. Sholem Aleichem, the famous Yiddish writer, touched the pagan layer of excitement with nature and spring that lies at the misty beginnings of this festival... "The wonderful time, the most joyous time of the year has come...the sun is high in the sky...the air is free and fresh, soft and clear. On the hill are the first sprouts of spring grass - tender, quivering, green. With a screech and a flutter of wings a straight line of swallows flies overhead, and I am reminded of the Song of Songs. 'For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing is come.”
Reader 5: Not often do families and friends meet together for a festive meal to celebrate a great historic event, and to reflect on the meanings of freedom. Most of the time each of us is busy pursuing individual duties and interests. Today parents, children, grandparents and friends take the time to remember our precious heritage.
Reader 6: Why did we write a new Hagada? Times change and a Hagada needs to reflect our values and the ever changing world. Throughout the Seder, the Jewish attitude towards life and our devotion to freedom is expressed. The Hagada’s penchant for constant change allows us to reflect upon freedom tales of all times. Sadly enough, it continues to be necessary to add tales of affliction.
Reader 7: Slavery continues in many ways in the world today. People are enslaved by despots. Prejudice enslaves. Poverty makes people slaves. Some people are slaves within themselves.
ALL: Pesakh is a festival of freedom!
Pesakh calls for an end to all slavery!
Pesakh proclaims: Let My People Go!
Reader 8: Our Seder begins with the traditional lighting of the candles.
(Light candles at each table)
ALL: May the radiance of these flames spread light throughout our lives. May light come into the darkened corners of our world, with the light of love and truth, peace and goodwill.
Barukh ha-or ba-o-lam
Barukh ha-or ba-a-dam
Barukh ha-or ba-Pesakh
FIRST CUP OF WINE
(pour first cup of wine and raise cups)
Reader 9: Generations ago our ancestors responded to the call for freedom. In every generation, we ought to view ourselves as though we have been personally liberated from slavery. Today that call continues, obligating us to work for an era when all people will be liberated. Let us drink the first cup of wine to celebrate the liberation of peoples from tyranny.
(Drink the first cup of wine)
ALL: Barukh ha-toov ba-o-lam
Barukh ha-toov ba-a-dam
Barukh ha-toov be-pesach