Monday, April 11, 2011
The Modern Haggadah: re-telling the Passover story
By: Elyssa Cohen, Tacklingtorah and originally posted at Pursue: Action for a just world. (I'm starting to write with Pursue, so be sure to share and comment on my posts!)
This year, how do we incorporate current abuses of civilian rights with our Jewish ancestors’ fight for freedom?
With Passover quickly approaching it’s a good time to stop and reflect on the power of storytelling. Our stories have the ability to create change. What is the story that your family tells on Passover? Has the same Haggadah been used annually since you were in utero?
Now’s the time to change! Many Jewish organizations are taking time to consider re-telling the story of Passover as a social change agent for current struggles of freedom. Evaluating the story of Passover gives us the opportunity to reflect, and share a story of an oppressed people in the vein of both remembering and not allowing history to repeat itself. What is the narrative of those who are currently oppressed?
Who has the ability to share their story, and who’s listening?
As young Jews acting for social change are we at liberty to speak of a narrative that may not be our own?
Isn’t Passover the best opportunity we have to share with a large number of people the causes we care about? I hope this year you are able to step up and create awareness within your family about those who are fighting for their freedom today. Create your own modern Haggadah, and tell the new story of freedom. We know that personal stories have the ability to garner a certain amount of empathy for people to connect with strangers, but I don’t anticipate everyone going out and writing their own Haggadah about Libyan families. The good news is you don’t have to write your own Haggadah from scratch, but you can make it personal to account for the social justice work that you do! Choose this year to talk about the fight within the LGBT community for marriage rights and transgender equality, healthcare equality, civil rights in Egypt, Libya, freedom from world hunger, the Japanese struggle as they repair from natural disaster devastation, to name a few.
While the original freedom story remains stagnant, our world around us changes and we as the next generation of Jewish leaders have to bring those around us towards liberation.
The new way to celebrate Passover is by creating your own Haggadot, so go ahead get rid of the Maxwell house Passover Haggadahs and treat yourself to freedom for the future!
It’s a Do-It-Yourself narrative this year. Over the next week, Pursue will share reflections on current issues of liberation, and ideas for additions to your Passover seder.
In the meantime, here are some resources for your own modern Haggadot. I challenge you to inspire your family with new traditions:
Compiling your own meaningful texts
Incorporating multi-media into your Seder
The Wandering is Over Haggadah, from ‘Jewish Boston’
Elyssa Cohen has been involved in social justice work since high school, when she founded a chapter of the ADL’s education program “A World Of Difference” at her public school. Elyssa has always valued a strong sense of community, and has been involved in a variety of different organizations whose mission reflects this goal. Elyssa was a Jewish Organizing Initiative fellow in Boston and worked as the Community Organizer of Keshet, an organization working for the full inclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender individuals within the Jewish Community. Elyssa is happy to have moved back to NY and to have joined the staff at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in the West Village. Elyssa is in the constant pursuit of justice! Check out more of Elyssa’s Jewish social justice writing at www.tacklingtorah.blogspot.com.