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During the past ten years or so, numerous groups and individuals have created “alternative” hagadas for the Passover seder. The motive behind most of these was to create a bridge between the happy memories of traditional seders past and our need for material that speaks to us in our own words, of our own deepest concerns and struggles. Some of these new hagadas, including one distributed by LILITH last year, described themselves as feminist and focused specifically on women’s struggles for liberation.
The practical problem with so many of these hagadas is that they are designed primarily for use by groups of like-minded people, and have sometimes proved awkward in more heterogeneous settings. Thus many of us would come to “mixed” Passover seders armed with half a dozen such hagadas, plus the traditional one, and try to work out some way of incorporating passages from one or more of these hagadas into the seder.
After doing this for many years ourselves, we felt a real need for an “integrated” hagada. The result is Aviva Cantor’s hagada, on pages 9-24—a complete text for the Passover seder. This hagada, we hope, is one that can be used by gatherings mixed in generation and gender, as well as by groups of people united in a particular struggle.
It is, first of all, non-sexist in language (except in the Hebrew God-language) and egalitarian in content, incorporating new insights into the roles women played in the liberation from Egypt. Second, the story of Passover is treated both as a historical experience unique to the Jewish people and as a model for all struggles for liberation, including women’s.
As with all seders, participants should feel free to “pass over” content that does not speak to them, and to add their own words. For, as the hagada itself says: “Whoever has more to add about the story of Passover, ha-ray zeh me-shoo-bach (deserves praise from all of us).”
By ancient Jewish tradition, Passover is the beginning to the new year (don’t be confused; there were traditionally three different beginnings to the year). So we wish you all a happy new year, happy new season, happy Pesach.