Every year Tikkun publishes a Haggadah supplement for Passover. This year we only published the first part of it in the print magazine (the two pages pictured at right) and promised that the entire haggadah would be published online, here, in time for Passover. We wrote:
FOR YOUR SEDER, here is a Haggadah supplement—not a replacement. If you don’t normally do a Seder, you can use this supplement as the basis for an interfaith gathering in your home on April 18, the first night of Passover, or on any of the other nights of Passover until it ends on April 26. The bulk of this supplement can be found online at tikkun.org/passoversupplement. We are only printing the first part here.
AS WE SIT AT THE SEDER TABLE we need to discuss how ancient liberation for the Jews can inspire liberation today for all people.
In fact, we know it is the ongoing spiritual inspiration and Jewish cultural and psychological resonance of that ancient struggle that led many Jews today to cheer on the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings against their oppressive dictatorial regimes. Yet we also know that many Jews responded with more fear than hope, a residue of the ongoing post-traumatic-stress disorder generated by 1,700 years of Christian oppression culminating in the Holocaust. The result: too often the high ethical values of the Jewish tradition can get subordinated to the fearful psychology that leads some of the most wealthy and politically powerful Jews in the world to still feel insecure and to see the world through the framework of the need to control, rather than through the religious frame of hope, love, and generosity that were the cornerstone of Jewish consciousness for many centuries. Without putting down those who are still traumatized and fearful, our task is to rebuild and reaffirm a Judaism committed to building a global transformation toward a world of love, generosity, peace, social justice, environmental sustainability, and genuine caring for each other and for the planet. It is toward this goal that we assemble at our Passover table as we rejoice in our freedom and affirm our commitment to spreading that freedom to all humanity.
Seventy-eight percent of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and a majority of non-Jewish Americans joined them. The message was clear: end the war in Iraq and let our troops come home, end the war on the poor and the environment, and stop favoring the rich and corporate interests.
No wonder, then, that as we sit around the Passover table in 2010 there is a widespread sense of disappointment at the way President Obama moved far away from the hope for “change we can believe in.” Some will say Obama was never who he said he was, that he was always just a clever manipulator of our hopes while actually being a centrist corporate-oriented politician, and that is why he chose advisers such as Geithner and Summers as soon as he was elected, and why he chose to retain Bush’s secretary of defense, rather than balancing his cabinet with people like Paul Krugman or Robert Reich and representatives of the GLBT, environmental, human rights, immigrant rights, peace, and women’s movements, and the other progressive movements that made his nomination possible in the first place. Others will suggest that he had no options, that he couldn’t do more than he did (and some will then say that he should have told the truth about what was happening and that he should have stopped trying to appeal to the people on his right while failing to appeal to his own base). Still others will say the whole idea of a U.S. president being able to stand up to the complex of corporate interests, military-industrial powers, insurance and health care companies, pharmaceutical firms, fossil fuel promoters, environmental polluters, and their banks and investment companies was ludicrous from the start. Some will argue that to counter such forces Obama would have needed to mobilize his own constituency, from the first moments of his presidency, into an independent movement present in the streets and in the balloting—a movement able to go door to door to advocate for a new kind of social and economic order and willing to push him away from the temptation of betraying his highest vision through backroom deals.
Well, that’s the kind of discussion that is needed on Passover this year—because Passover is not meant to be merely a celebration of the Jewish victory for liberation in our past, but is rather meant to stimulate us to extend that liberation to the whole world. Such liberation would bring an end to the destruction of the environment. It would bring an end to the cheapening of cultural life by the dominance of an ethos of “looking out for number one.” It would bring an end to rampant materialism and our society’s belief in salvation through mechanical objects and technological fixes.
It is not a new president that we need but a new kind of movement. We need a movement that has a spiritual dimension and affirms and builds on what the 2008 election revealed: the deep yearning of Americans (and really all people on the planet) for a world in which love, kindness, generosity, ethical and ecological sanity, awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe, and commitment to a higher meaning for our lives are valued over the pursuit of money, power, sexual conquest, and fame, which have been extolled as central values by corporate media and enshrined in the workings of the global capitalist system. At the Seder table, we invite you to ask how you can help get this kind of spiritual consciousness introduced into the discourse of secular liberal and progressive social change movements, NGOs, and liberal political parties. We invite you to make this discussion a central part of your Passover Seder this year.
Liberation Today in Israel/Palestine
Unfortunately, we in the Jewish world have another major challenge. We have to face the set of distortions that have accompanied a blind and idolatrous worship of the State of Israel—distortions that are apparent whenever Jews close their eyes to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, the Palestinians. Go into most synagogues or Jewish institutions in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, or France, and you’ll find that you can denounce God, question the Torah, or refuse to follow various Jewish ritual practices, and you are likely to be met with a “ho-hum” response. But dare to question Israel and its policies, and you’ll find yourself being denounced as a traitor, a self-hating Jew, an anti-Semite, or “an accomplice of Hitler.” The blind worship of Israel has become the only contemporary religion of the Jewish people, a people still so traumatized by our long history of oppression and so angry at God for not intervening during the Holocaust that we’ve come to believe in the religion of our enemies, the religion that says that we can only trust in our power, our army, and our ability to wipe out our enemies.
The rest of this Haggadah (and there’s much more in it) will appear online in the web version of Tikkun by the end of March (the first Passover Seder in 2011 is on Monday, April 18) and will be available to anyone who is a Tikkun subscriber and/or NSP member. If we have your email address, we will send you instructions in late March for how to access this special subscribers-and-members-only content on our newly redesigned web magazine site. If you haven’t received the instructions by the end of March, please call our office at 510-644-1200. If you haven’t subscribed or joined, please do so now! If you are a subscriber or member but don’t have access to the web, send us your address and we’ll mail you a copy of the full Haggadah supplement.