Whether you observe Passover according to the strict rules of Jewish law, or you attend one family Seder, or whether your Passover observance is watching The Prince of Egypt, or whatever traditions, practices or customs you find meaningful, the weeks leading up to Passover (April 3-11, 2015) feel like a Jewish March Madness. Between planning Seders, cleaning your house of chametz or mentally preparing yourself for a week of matzah, there’s a lot to get done and it always feels like not enough time.
On the RACblog, our Passover March Madness has included a flurry of blogs about key social justice issues connected to Passover and the great Haggadot and Seder inserts you can use during Passover:
- As we think about the Israelite’s journey from the bitterness of slavery to the sweetness of freedom, let us think about people in our society today who are still dealing with the bitterness of hate crimes.
- A highlight of the Passover seder is Dayenu, “It would have been enough.” However, when we think about women’s equality, we are thankful for the battles of the past that have done so much for women, but we know that there is still so far to go, that the past battles are not enough for true equality for women.
- The 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL served as a call to action to continue the work of civil rights, a tale of liberation and redemption not unlike the Passover story. Our Haggadah, “A Common Road to Freedom” makes those connections and will help bring a conversation about civil rights to your seder table.
- The fight for civil rights included the fight for voting rights. In our democracy, the right to vote is the hallmark of citizenship and participation in government. But, far too many people are disenfranchised. If you are discussing civil rights, make sure to bring up the importance of ensuring that voting rights are a reality for all Americans.
- Criminal justice Just as the Jewish people were struggling for freedom and justice, so do many people in our society today. Our criminal justice system needs reform, and discussing the redemption of people who are or were incarcerated will call attention to these important issues.
- As the Jewish people go from being strangers in the land of Egypt to a free people yearning for the Promised Land, let us not forget the strangers in our midst who need to be brought out of the shadows through comprehensive immigration reform.
- Passover is a story about redemption from slavery in ancient times. As we celebrate this holiday, we cannot lose sight of the people who are suffering in modern-day slavery. To learn about this issue and how you can take action, use all or part of our Haggadah on modern-day slavery.
- Our struggle for freedom in Egypt reminds us of all the people who are struggling for freedom today. This Haggadah about LGBT equality discusses these issues and is a beautiful way to lift up the voices of LGBT people in your Seder.
- The Reform Movement always stood for acceptance and inclusion for all people in Jewish life. A Portuguese language Haggadah is a testament to that legacy. Learn more about this Haggadah and the work the Reform Movement is doing to promote inclusion and diversity.
- The modern plague of climate change takes hold on our society in many ways. From a retelling of the Four Children story, or understanding how the justice we celebrate in Passover connects to climate change, we have many resources you can use to discuss environmentalism at the seder table.
- Passover reminds each of us of our relationships to food and healthy eating as we refrain from eating chametz. Let us not forget the challenges that so many people face in obtaining the food they need just to get by – that is truly the bread of affliction, Ha Lachma Anya.
- That the Jewish people were enslaved is an eternal reminder of how important it is for our people to speak up against labor injustices. Discussing worker justice and how our history of slavery is a call to action for Jews to participate in social justice is a great addition to the Maggid (narration) part of the seder.
It’s clear that Passover lends itself well to a variety of interpretations and connections to social justice issues. For whatever issue you want to highlight – in a large or small way – we have a resource discussed above or at rac.org/Passover.
However you observe Passover, may it be filled with joyful discussion, meaningful observance and tzedakah (justice). And, if you're carefully watching your NCAA bracket - a more well-known March Maddness - best of luck!