Religion & Beliefs
New Freedom Seder
Forty years go, the 2000-year-old form of the Passover Seder was turned into a seed for change, liberating new vision and creativity. Every Haggadah before this had told the story of the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery under … Read More
Forty years go, the 2000-year-old form of the Passover Seder was turned into a seed for change, liberating new vision and creativity. Every Haggadah before this had told the story of the liberation of the ancient Israelites from slavery under Pharaoh; the Freedom Seder intertwined that Jewish story with the struggles for freedom of Black America and other cultures, races, and religions. It won national attention and emulation, and in the decades since has sparked the creation of many Seders devoted to various aspects of liberation.
Forty years – like the forty days of rain before the Flood, the forty days and nights that Moses and then Jesus fasted before their revelations, the forty years of travail in the wilderness, the forty weeks of human pregnancy — signal a new generation, a time for a pregnant pause toward a new birthing. What now most needs a birthing?
The most profound issue facing the world today is the danger of climate catastrophe — "global scorching." So this year, we need a new Freedom Seder, one that will address the challenge of environmental disaster through the presence in the Passover story of the Ten Plagues.
Each of the plagues is an ecological disaster brought on by Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness, stubbornness, and addiction to his own power. Swarms of frogs and locusts, unprecedented hailstorms, rivers that become undrinkable, three days of sandstorm darkness so thick it could be touched — these disasters for the earth were intertwined with economic disasters for the people: workers impoverished into slaves, foreigners turned into pariahs.
We must ask ourselves, what are the Ten Plagues being brought upon us by the institutional "pharaohs" of today? Who and what are these pharaohs? How can we heal these plagues so that once more we can till a land flowing with milk and honey?
The Shalom Center plans to create the first New Freedom Seder this year in Washington Dc. We will focus on how to move past the top-down pharaonic powers that today are blocking the path toward a promised land of justice and sustainable community, nourished by sustainable sources of energy. We intend for this Seder-and others organized simultaneously around the country–to be not a one-time-only event but part of a process of ongoing organizing to prevent climate disaster and work for a just and sustainable economy.
If you would like to attend the flagship 40th Anniversary New Freedom Seder held in Washington, DC, on March 29, 2009, please register here. To sponsor or take part in your Freedom Seder for the Earth in your own community, please write Awaskow@shalomctr.org and register your Seder here
Lead image by Avi Katz, supplied by the Shalom Center. Main article art by Harriete Estel Berman.