by Rev. Dave Weissbard
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The purpose of this Haggadah is to serve as an aid to celebrating the festival of Passover with a family or liberal religious community. Passover is an important part of our religious heritage which comes to us from our Jewish ancestors. Historically it began as a celebration of the mythical story of the liberation of the Hebrew people from slavery under the oppression of the Egyptians. Over the years this bold step toward freedom has become symbolic in the Judaeo-Christian tradition of the need of all people to move toward freedom.
Jews have, since they first settled in Palestine, commemorated this festival with a ceremonial meal called a Seder (SAY- der). Seder means "the order of the service." The content of the Seder has been passed down by tradition and has been reinterpreted from time to time so that it is not only a celebration of the past, but a commitment to the present and future.
The oldest Haggadah [ha-GOD-da : the telling] (the book containing the Seder service) that has been discovered dates back to the eighth century. One historian has suggested that there have been more than 2700 editions of the Passover Haggadah in various languages. I have more than two dozen versions in my collection.
This Haggadah for a Unitarian Universalist Seder contains elements from many Haggadoth which I have freely edited to create a service that is particularly appropriate for Unitarian Universalists. After twenty years of publication, it is in use in more than a hundred Unitarian Universalist Churches and homes across the United States. Since the last edition, my father, Al Weissbard, a mensch, has died. I dedicate this Haggadah to his memory.
Our Seders will be successful if we complete them, not with a sense of having celebrated an interesting tradition of another religious group, but more importantly, with a feeling that this festival is a living part of OUR tradition and OUR future. May it be so.
The Unitarian Universalist Church
Now, in the presence of loved ones
And friends, with emblems of festive
rejoicing before us, we gather for a
In community with our elders
and young ones, linking and
bonding the past with the future,
we heed the call to remember.
Living an ancient story that is told for all
peoples, whose shining conclusion is yet to
unfold, we gather to observe the Passover,
as it is written:
You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
for on this very day I brought your hosts out of
Egypt. You shall observe this day throughout
the generations as a practice for all times.
Mistress of the House:
May the festival lights we now kindle
Inspire us to use our powers:
To heal and not to harm,
To help and not to hinder,
To bless and not to curse,
To serve the holy cause of Freedom.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God,
Ruler of the Universe, who has
sanctified us by Thy commandments,
and has commanded us to kindle the
Mistress of the House:
In praising God we are saying that all life is sacred.
In kindling festive lights
We preserve life's sanctity.
With every holy light we kindle,
The world is brightened to a higher harmony.
Baruch Atah Adonai Eleheinu Meleh ha-olam borei p´ri hagafen.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who createst the fruit of the wine.
We give thanks for the oneness of the peoples of the world; that we are exalted by the life of the mind and the love of freedom; that we have the gift to know what is holy and profane, what is freedom and what is slavery.
We are thankful for the occasions of joyor festivals and seasons of gladness.
We are thankful that the people of Israel did create and maintain this Feast of the Unleavened Bread, this celebration of Freedom, as a Holy convocation, a memorial of the departure from Egypt.
(All drink the first cup of wine.)