A Blessed Haggadah For A Troubled Age

My boy Joseph put me on to this hott new haggadah which we’ll be using for our second seder (a “freedom seder” — which is non-obligatory, of course, being that we’re in Jerusalem, but which we’re excited about nonetheless) this coming Pesach:

Are you looking for a politically progressive, anti-racist haggadah that includes beautiful writing, ritual, humor and reflection? Wish you could find a haggadah that is in solidarity with Palestinian liberation, and also rich with multicultural Jewish traditions and history? Searching for something to help you to talk with family and friends about the connection between your political work and the Jewish tradition of fighting for freedom and liberation?
Then you, my friend, have come to the right place!
The Love and Justice in times of war HAGGADAH ZINE is your source for creating a choose-your-own-adventure progressive seder. This haggadah is fully accessible for folks who have never organized a seder, or are new to celebrating Passover: it includes transliterations, translations, a glossary, a resource list, and stories from some of our friends about what Jewishness and Passover mean to them. It is easily reproduce-able, so that you can easily copy as-is or cut and paste, to create haggadot for your own seder.
We have drawn from many wonderful progressive haggadot from the last few decades, focusing on various political and social justice issues. We are indebted to all of the folks who have created these materials, and we have used selections from many of these, with much respect and our best attempts to credit our sources. This project has been created and compiled in the spirit of very small-scale DIY anti-copyright self-publishing.
You can download it as a PDF here online, and then, if you want, take it to a copy shop and make double-sided copies, to create a 25-page booklet. Or, order printed copies through paypal.

Viva la Pesach revolucion!

58 thoughts on “A Blessed Haggadah For A Troubled Age

  1. Can’t it be modern and progressive without being political?
    To me, an otherwise beautiful idea (infusing the haggadah with contemporary reflections, etc) is trashed by conflating a divisive political issue with the ritual. This strikes me as much “my politically-informed Judaism is the only correct Judaism” as the hilltop youths about whom I recently posted.

  2. How can a holiday about liberation not be political? We may argue about its political meaning, but can we really talk about slavery and freedom without politics? Furthermore, I would argue that while any updated ritual can be “modern” it cannot be progressive unless it is pushing us towards progress, pushing us to make this world a better place. I cannot think of any cultural product that is progressive and not political.

  3. One more thing… What distinguishes most liberal/progressive Judaisms from the settler folks is that while a progressive may say, “Here is a meaningful interpretation that will help us be better people and better global citizens.” They would never claim that interpretation is the only valid one, that it is the “only correct judaism”. It may be the only only correct moral choice, but not the only correct Jewish choice.

  4. It was weird how I found the whole section about bulldozers and olive groves but couldn’t find onethe section about families blowing up in restraurants.
    Please make sure I’m not invited to your second seder.
    Thanks and chag sameach,

  5. oh the horror. in a place and at a time when we’re so completely consumed with our own victimhood, chas v’shalom, we should take some time out to think of the other.
    sorry, tm, but you are more than welcome to attend my seder. my door is wide open to you.

  6. Some people are too consumed with their own victimhood to think about the other. Others are so consumed with the victimhood of the other, they forget those who suffer nearby.

  7. This is the seder of the liberal Anti-Torah Jew – a Passover twisted beyond recognition into its opposite.
    Learn some Torah from the original – drink it wash yourself in it.
    Learn what passover is really about – you wont regret it.

  8. this is a haggadah by people who have searched and struggled to make judaism a living force in their lives. unlike many, they have not passively accepted a religious form passed down to them and regurgitated it without thinking. the name of Israel is given to the one who struggles with the Lord — this is the incarnation of such a struggle. it could not possibly be a joke. it’s a very beautiful thing.

  9. This “haggadah” makes me physically ill.
    There is enough room in Judaism to legitimately innovate within halacha. But watering down Judaism with farces like this ensures that the next generations of Jews will be lost.
    Politically, the naivete is stunning: filled with empathy for those who have none for us. (Unless you can show me a Palestinian religious ceremony where a word is said of sorrow for suicide bombings.) Jewishly, this Haggadah is just another step where Judaism becomes indistinguishable from humanism.
    If I am not for me, who will be for me? When Jews spend more time sympathizing with their enemies than with their own, where Jewish settlers are twisted into Nazis while Palestinian suicide bombers are excused as being somehow not responsible for their own actions the Haggadah blames Jews for their terror!) – this is not Judaism. This is a perversion, a disgusting display of trying to assimilate and sympathize so non-Jews will like you better. It didn’t work in the past and it doesn’t work now.
    There are indeed tragedies among the Palestinian Arabs. But using this sacred text to elevate them above the victims of your own people (in fact, often to vilify the Jewish victims who truly have a love of the Land of Israel) is a mockery of Judaism.
    It is, in a word, sick.

  10. What a fabulous resource. Though I will certainly not be using it as my primary haggadah this year, it provides some marvelous texts and meditations which I plan on bringing to the table!
    Thanks for sharing it.

  11. *AHEM* [coughing!] the ten commandments reconsidered as radical and even rather anarchistic
    and we’re just sayin’ but it was dirty anarchists and commies fighting the Nazis and respectable conservatives helping out with police services, last time we checked.

  12. Elder,
    Of course you are right. All these people here are full of it.
    That is why it falls on people like us who know better to teach. This is not really the right forum for that. If you want to get involved get in touch with me.
    Sam you write: “searched and struggled to make judaism a living force in their lives”- yopu are so full of it. How much Torah did you learn? You struggle because you were brought up IGNORANT.
    Learn some Torah not what you were spoon fed by your ignorant Rabbis and educators.
    I don’t mean to single you out Sam beleive there are a heck of alot of ignorant Jews out there – all the product of Torah bankrupt Jewish educations.

  13. how very neturei karta of you Mob… sigh.
    See– rather than opening people up to a broader spiritual outlook, the *assumption* that an anti-occupation stance is “progressive” is immediately shutting the door on this haggadah for so many people. Myself included.
    You can say that slavery is political, but the link between slavery in Egypt and the Palestinian situation is dubious… subjective at the very best. Good luck.

  14. does this Hagadda have a chapter on the beautiful liberating suicide bombing that took place on a Passover seder in 2002? if its doesnt its obviously Zionist trash. What do you think Mobius is it fitting to call it “a plague on the slavemasters of today”?

  15. Can’t we take time to think of others’ victimhood but in some normal way instead of some biased, half-assed, I-love-the-whole-world- except-the-oppressive-J ews context?
    Let me guess, your house is the United Nations General Assembly?

  16. you know what i love … that taking an unequivocal stance against all forms of violence, repression, killing, enslavement, etc., amongst all of humanity somehow, in the eyes of you people, equates with justifying suicide bombing.
    do you really think i’m more sympathetic to a suicide bomber than to the victim of a suicide bomber? my sympathy for the victims is what leads me to seek out real solutions that do not involve more bloodshed. but you’re too busy setting me up as your straw man… assigning every characteristic in the world you dislike to me instead of actually addressing me.
    what, alex, you think i shared that text below because i think we’re evil, vile slavemasters deserving of death? are you so thick skulled that you missed the whole gist of the text — “free yourself by freeing those whom you oppress”? all that says is that i want jews to be free.
    why don’t you read yitzhak frankenthal’s story and tell him he’s a terror supporter.

  17. Can’t we take time to think of others’ victimhood but in some normal way instead of some biased, half-assed, I-love-the-whole-world- except-the-oppressive-J ews context?
    again — the horror! i’m spending a whole night contemplating jewish oppression and then the next night i’m adding an extra seder i’m not even obligated to have to consider the oppression of the other.
    clearly, i’m half-assed.
    stop calling yourself the middle. you’re not. you’re right of center. you’re just to the left of the other right wingers.

  18. No thanks, If I wanted a Haggadah like that, I could include a few pages of CHomksy’s writing with mine originals… Call me old fashioned I enjoy the original where the Egyptians get whats coming to them… Oh man, Those Talit katan, a Shanda!!! THere ya happy M, theres the reaction you were going for from us “right wingers”.

  19. look Mobius basically to me your call to “free the enslaved Palestinians” is basically equivalent to commemorating the oppresion the Nazis suffered in 1944-45.

  20. Hey guys anyone for a vote-
    Who do you you like more?
    left leaning Mobius ala “new and improved haggadah”…
    or his Kach sister ala studying in Israel and wanting the Arabs out of there?

  21. “my sympathy for the victims is what leads me to seek out real solutions that do not involve more bloodshed”
    I think it’s noble to try to find non-violent solutions to this problem, but i don’t see how the proliferation of this haggadah does that. I don’t have a problem with the references to Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians human rights, but don’t just leave it at that because there are two sides to this story. The titile of the the Haggadah is “Love + Justice”, i fail to see how this haggadah promotes an equal dosage of either. I see it as an interesting, albeit misguided first step in the right direction perhaps.
    Does that make me right wing? I don’t think so, i’m perplexed by your enthusiastic endorsement of this haggadah however.

  22. I vote for a game of ping-pong, played by Mobius and Joe Schmo. Winner to be crowned ‘King of the First Dimension.’

  23. Mobi, you can call me left of Center, Right of Center, Upside down of Center, and it won’t change the fact that you – without any shame – post about supposed Jewish lynchings of Christians based on the flimsiest of sources during Purim, and now post about a supposedly progressive haggaddah on Passover that essentially takes the entire concept of Pesach and transforms it into a Palestinian matter. Guess what? It’s an absurd comparison in every way, and your assertion that somehow this is as valid a celebration of this Jewish holiday is absolutely absurd.
    Let me make it a bit clearer for you, dear Mobius. Every time that the PLO Charter, or Arafat, or one of his cronies speaks on behalf of the Palestinians and publicly states that Jews have no historical, cultural or religious connection to the Land of Israel, they are doing precisely what this idiotic haggaddah does. The difference is that you do it for them.
    Read what Observer just wrote because it makes a lot of sense. There are ways of opposing the presence of Israelis among Palestinians without taking Jewish traditions and requisitioning them for your political purposes.
    Oh, and just so you know, the destruction of certain olive groves owned by Palestinians is something of which I strongly disapprove. It has nothing to do with Passover, however.

  24. did most of you actually read the thing? the palestinians are mentioned on a few pages, but it certainly doesn’t “take the entire concept of Pesach and transform it into a palestinian matter.” it kind of seems like you’re condemning it based on what you *assume* it says, rather than on what it actually says.

  25. I am not sure what makes me more sick– the latest t-shirt post, or this drivel that they call a hagadah. But beyond that lets us look at the painful neurosis that you suffer from. Your own insecurities run so deep about being Jewish, the doubt, the self hate, the baggage from a childhood spent in conflict with your self and your people – it is all written there on your “blog”.
    A Jew who has trouble relating to the Passover hagadah because there are Palestinians living in refugee camps has succumbed to the same malady that you have.
    How do I know this? Because I once had the same problem. I demonstrated, got arrested, fought for the Palestinian cause, only to be snubbed, and disillusioned. I was used, and abused by both the Arabs and the Jews. Boy the Arabs loved me, token Jewish American, out to help them, look good in the photos, all the attention. Taken to meet the important Palestinian machers, and included in all the high up meetings. Yeh feeling real special and really important.
    Boy the Jews hated me, my own people. Don’t they realize I am doing this for them, I thought, in the most convoluted logic imaginable. Don’t they realize this will make us free, I thought. Wow I was so self-righteous I could have anointed myself a saint and savior. I was so selfp-righteous I thought that I had the cure the answer, that my pen and my voice had all the right things to say and do.
    And of course, I was thoroughly wrong. I knew nothing. I didn’t even know aleph.
    Alas, Mobius, friend, brother, Jew, I don’t expect to change your mind. I don’t expect that you will change your mind until you decide to. So what can I say to you, a man so close-minded and obscure, so adrift in fantasy and fitlth?
    Mida keneged mida. You will reap what you sow. So please, continue to publish and preach. But look out for the day when you will have to gather the harvest of your self-hate.

  26. Dan,
    I don’t agree with most of your politics. And your tallit katan…oy vey. But you’re redesign of your personal site is, well, beautiful.

  27. I vote for a game of ping-pong, played by Mobius and Joe Schmo. Winner to be crowned ‘King of the First Dimension.’
    I second that. God help us all and maybe I am actually gonna start taking my meds again after seeing the kefiyah talit katan. Please God send Moshiac now, please please please. Although, given the wacky sense of humour revealed to us up to now, I got a feeling he’s gonna ride in on that donkey with a kafiyah on his head. The only question is will it be black or will it be red?

  28. Your own insecurities run so deep about being Jewish, the doubt, the self hate, the baggage from a childhood spent in conflict with your self and your people.
    i’m sorry, do you know me from a hole in the wall? because you seem to be speaking to me as if you do, except that the person you’re describing simply isn’t me.
    as per everyone else and their blah blah blah — when we left egypt 4/5s got left behind. if god could only reach 20% of the jewish people, i guess i’m lucky if i reach 1%.

  29. I have no intention to defend movius, I think he’s doing a great job in that, but I found the following quote unbelievable:
    Your own insecurities run so deep about being Jewish, the doubt, the self hate, the baggage from a childhood spent in conflict with your self and your people.
    Alter Kocker has much chutzpa. take a look at the title and contents of this website and of mobius’ personal website. The guy has published his deepest thoughts about judaism and israelihood in front of the world to read and judge.

  30. Alter Kocker has a point,
    though I’m always amazed about that fanatic right-winger TM and what he says here. Can anyone be so conservative?
    Mob, congrats on your reminding us that 4/5 of the Jews (actually Israeliates, the ‘Jews’ were only one tribe) didn’t live past the plague of darkness and the self-righteous assuming that you’d be of the chosen few now. What can you say about those chosen few who then saw incredible miracles and then built the golden calf. What music did they play as the smelted the gold?
    FWIW, if there are only a few moments in the year when we should be conservatively and traditionally Jewish, then I think Pesach is one of them.

  31. “if god could only reach 20% of the jewish people, i guess i’m lucky if i reach 1%.”
    Mobius = God-19%

  32. How are you so totally left, Mobius? Liberal Jews seem less Jewish and more Loony-Left. For 2000 years the Haggadah has been the same, untouched and steered us through persecution. Now we get some communist-liberal type screwing around with it to show ‘solidarity with the Palestinians’. Why not show solidarity with the hundreds of dead Jewish children, you wanker. Why not show solidarity with JEWS on PESAH. You are Jewish, right? Wanker.

  33. Mobius:
    as per everyone else and their blah blah blah — when we left egypt 4/5s got left behind.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … which ones didn’t make it mobeleh?
    The ones too deeply invested in another people’s culture to challenge it.
    The ones unable to slaughter the lamb – which Egyptians worshipped – because of “what will the goyim say”.
    The ones unwilling to inconvenience themselves because of some dusty old covenant, unwilling to feel bound by it.
    … and which Jews, nowadays, are repeating these patterns – and being lost to the Jewish people?
    In America, the percentage is even the same – 70-80 percent Reform, 70-80 percent intermarried, 70-80 percent choosing another cultural identity (socialism/liberalism) over Judaism.
    So which one are you, moby? Freedom Fighter or Last Jew In My Family?

  34. I am currently designed fantastic Tfellin with a Swatztika instead of a Shin, it will complement those Talit Katan nicely

  35. The swastika was a Jewish symbol long before they got a certain six-pointed solar sign from India and called it the Magen David.

  36. K&Y, yea yea I knew someone was going to mention something like that, actually its earliest appearance is in Sanskrit writings… But who cares… What does it mean today? What does its image envoke?

  37. Please give some references for your claim that the star-of-david found on all synagugues whether ashkenaz or sefard came from another source. I would be interested in following up.

  38. Hey Schm…o
    I don’t know if the magen david came from somewhere else or not. But what if it did? Could you possibly accept something that frustrates your assumptions as nevertheless historically accurate? Would it upset you? why?
    somehow I don’t think it matters what evidence people put forth really matters. Anyway, I’m certainly no expert, but this is what Wikipedia says about it… who knows?

  39. This is part of it.
    flag and heraldry site
    relevant excerpt:

    Even though the Magen David is known as the Jewish symbol, the Jews had another symbol which is the Menorah which is also the emblem of the State of Israel and its origin is already in the Bible. The emblem is based on the engraving of the Menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem as it appears [engraved] on Titus Gate in Rome. The destiny of the original Menorah is unknown.
    Sources: Hebrew Encyclopedia; Encyclopaedia Britannica (Hebrew version); From the Foundation, 1986.
    Dov Gutterman, 4 March 1999
    The Magen David is not an ancient Jewish symbol nor a religious one like the cross. It originated in Bohemia around 500 years ago.
    Nahum Shereshevsky, 22 April 2000
    There is absolutely no archaeological evidence of David’s existence. I am not suggesting that he did not exist, just that there is as yet nothing extra-biblical. Therefore it would be impossible to pin the Magen David on him.
    T.F. Mills, 22 April 2000
    From most accounts, the Magen David was originally chosen (on the flag of the Jewish community of Prague, in the middle ages) for decorative purposes — in other words, as a star, with no other meaning, in an age when heraldic stars had six points (easier to make). Explanations about ‘shields’ and ‘seals’ came much later.
    Actually, the earliest known use of the six-pointed star by Jews was in the decoration of Classical (Greek/Roman) Era synagogues. The six-pointed stars are used alongside five-pointed stars and, of all things, swastikas. All are clearly meant only for ornamentation (just perhaps with a shared mystical background), with no further purpose. The six-pointed star doesn’t arise again in Jewish iconography —again as a secular symbol— for another thousand years, on a flag. Use in other areas proliferated after that.
    Nathan Lamm, 6 February 2004

    of course, this is only confirmation of something that should be expected; the swastika is nearly universal.

  40. Also, take note (from Ronen’s link):
    “In Unicode, the “Star of David” symbol is U+2721 (✡).”
    This is far more useful than attempting to trace Mediterranian inter-cultural influences.

  41. k&y:
    There is absolutely no archaeological evidence of David’s existence. I am not suggesting that he did not exist, just that there is as yet nothing extra-biblical. Therefore it would be impossible to pin the Magen David on him.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    I don’t know about the Magen David, but there is definitely archeological evidence of David’s existence. Canaanite/Hittite correspondence and monuments refer to the Jewish royal “house of David”.

  42. All it takes to know you is to see what you have done with your websites and posts. And you have justified my comment that you are dearly self-righteous by claiming to have reached 1% of the Jewish people. Wow. It takes real chutzpah to think that your religious devotion to self destruction and autogenocide has an audience of that size. You are not a prophet, nor a prophets son. You are probably a very nice person seeking approval and love.

  43. “anti-mobius” (brilliant handle, really makes me want to find out what you’re all about) — you’re just wrong about the haggadah always being the same. innovation with respect to the haggadah is a tradition in itself.

  44. Wow- Amazing how a little artsy haggada plug can get people so riled.
    i’ve been away for a bit and I’ve forgotton how tightly wound people are on this blog.
    A.K. – don’t punish Moby for your life of regrets, it’s anything but self righteous to open up your mind and heart for the world to see and critique.

  45. we never said david did not exist, although since you brought it up, why does a name demand an individual? Are there so many royal lines not mythohistorically founded by some ancient miracle story (the most fantastic being the Japanese), especially in the ancient world? Do we not have talk, as well as a house of David, as if a house of Abraham? If he did not exist, would there be some yellowing or diminishing of his story?

  46. rrrright. By the way, the Emporer of Japan is a god, and all Muslims calling themselves certain names are descendants of specific historical figures.

  47. What right? I know somebody who does. This particular person doesn’t trace son after son. There are some woman in the trace ie his fathers mothers fathers….
    I know somebody with the last name “tarfon” who has an old prayerbook with the name after name generations up until Rabbi Tarfon quoted in the mishnah.

  48. So, i finally downloaded the haggada to see what all the fuss is about, and i noticed one thing specificly: a strong anti-Ashkenazic bias.
    The transliteration they use, marked self-consciously/discla imerly as “Ashkenazic”, isn’t frikkin Ashkenazic at all! It’s American-style Israeli, neither Ashkenaz, Sefarad, Teiman, or any other ancestral Jewish dialect. One of the most salient, well-known (and badly-imitated by people who don’t know what they’re doing) qualites of Ashkenazic Hebrew is that they pronounce the letter tav as S when it lacks a dageish dot, something i haven’t found *at all* flipping through the haggada… not to mention all the vowel distinctions that are found among Ashkenazim, but not among Modern Israeli and Sefaradim!
    I’d also like to point out that this Loolwa Khazzoom’s description of Hebrew dialectology is full of crap. When you compare contemporary Ashkenazic and Mizrahhi pronunciations of Hebrew with reconstructed Classical Tiberian Hebrew of the people who invented all the little dots and dashes sprinkled around the letters, it’s very obvious that, in general:
    1. Mizrahhi dialects preserved distinctions between consonants better,
    2. Ashkenazic dialects preserved distinctions between vowels better!
    People like to identify the Yemenite (“Teimani”) accent as ‘the most authentic’ but that’s also not exactly accurate; while the Yemenites preserved distinctions between most sounds that other communities lost, they themselves (i’m generalizing here, btw: there are actually 5 different Yemenite accents, just as there are many subaccents within the Ashkenazic, Sefaradic, Mizrahhic, etc. categories) lost the distinction between the vowels segol and patahh, as well as were influenced by Arabic to pronounce the hard gimel as “J”.
    Here ends the Linguist’s Rant.

  49. whoops, sorry about the unending bold there… guess i got a little carried away in my angry rantliness 😛
    Happy Pesahh/Peisach/Pæsæhh, everybody!

  50. Oh, and what the hell is up with The “Other” Children’s questions be incoherent random quotes from the Hhad Gadya poem?
    Can someone explain that to me?!

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