a different side of Israel

Haggadah from the Physicians for Human Rights – Israel


Eloheinu v’Elohei Kadmoneinu (Avoteinu, Avoteinu vEmoteinu), our God and God of our ancestors, we are gathered around this seder table as b’nei khorin , free people who still remember the long years of oppression. We have vowed never to become oppressors ourselves. Yet, we know how easy it is to harden our hearts to those who have paid an excessive price for our people’s prosperity and security. On this Feast of Freedom we know that to be truly free we must banish Pharaoh from our hearts and reaffirm our commitment to honor God’s Image in every human being. Recalling the midwives of old, we know that the seeds of redemption are planted when we oppose Pharaoh’s command.

Tonight we leave a place at our table for those who remain victims of oppression. We renew our commitment to winning their freedom, thereby insuring ours. We particularly remember: (Choose one or more)

A. The Hungry

As we declare Kol Dikhfeen, “Let all who are hungry come and eat,” we know that a rising number of Israelis feel the pangs of hunger. Recalling the four children of the haggadah, we know that 20-25% of Israeli children and youth go to bed hungry at least one night a week. Fear for our own economic well being has perhaps hardened our hearts to the plight of the weakest elements of our society. This year the Israeli Wisconsin Plan has removed for many the last remnants of an unraveling security net. Under the threat of losing their meager benefits because of “non-cooperation,” the elderly and ill are forced to engage in “volunteer” physical labor as “community service” and travel long distances to unrealistic job interviews. Without provisions for child care, single parents are required to leave young children alone at home in order to attend evening courses. Without being given any language training, new immigrants are expected to succeed in Hebrew language jobs. Instead of inviting the hungry to come and eat, we have justified budget cuts by viewing those less fortunate than ourselves as strangers, entirely responsible for their plight.

As we hold up the lekhem oni , the bread of the poor, we know that if we will it, it is no dream. We are able to fulfill the haggadah’s command to build a society which shares its bread with the poor freely.

B. Victims of Home Demolitions

The representative of the Jerusalem Municipality ignored our pleas to wait for a few more minutes as a judge prepared to issue an order stopping the demolition of the Rabakh home in Wallajeh. By the time the order was given, one third of the home was demolished. The Municipal Engineer declared the home to be unsafe and ordered the demolition to be completed. The Rabakh family had no chance to obtain a legal building permit, not only because there is no master plan at all for their neighborhood, but they are considered “illegal” residents in their own homes because they have West Bank ID cards and their lands were annexed to Jerusalem. The demolition of the home of Muna Somrin, who began building after fleeing with her children from a violent husband, has been staved off. However, Muna is prohibited from completing the home and still lives with the fear that the already built portion may yet be demolished.

Celebrating the seder in the security of our homes, we commit ourselves to work in the coming year for a Jerusalem built on a foundation of justice.

C. Foreign Workers

Brought to Israel with rosy promises, many foreign workers are quickly thrown into a harsh reality. Women are raped, locked up and their passports are confiscated, as part of the modern slavery of forced prostitution.

Tonight the struggle of foreign workers to free themselves from their Israeli taskmasters is our struggle.

TONIGHT WE ALSO CELEBRATE NEW FREEDOMS. Last Passover we pledged, “Having failed to stop the demolition through the courts or by standing in front of the bulldozers, we …commit ourselves to rebuilding so that next year the Dari family home will stand in the rebuilt Jerusalem .” Tonight the Daris are sleeping in their home, although it is half the size of the original home and there is still a threat of a second demolition. Likewise, we have rebuilt the demolished village of Khirbat Tana and frozen plans to demolish the entire El-Bustan neighborhood in E. Jerusalem. The court has struck down the route of the section of the Separation Barrier, which would have cut off the residents of Sheikh Saed from their families, schools and hospitals. With our help, many Palestinians are now accessing agricultural lands for the first time in 2, 5 or even 15 years. Working side by side in the olive groves frees Israelis and Palestinians alike from deeply held stereotypes. Our ongoing High Court petition offers the promise that the situation will change even further in the coming year. We have helped some of the Israelis incapable of working to win exemptions from the Israeli Wisconsin Plan, or at least maintain their social benefits. A better world is possible, if we will work as God’s partners to bring it about.

RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS שומרי משפט-רבנים למען זכויות האדם


  1. Thanks for sharing this. Wouldn’t it be great if all spiritual leaders were as secure in their good intentions for all of mankind, that they would share like declarations!? Agree or not with each statement, this is a beautiful lead!
    Thank you Rabbis For Human Rights!

  2. this is totally cool especially part C where the plight of foreign workers was mentioned! im a foreign worker myself (though im married to an israeli, i still consider myself as a foreign worker, i share their pain when oppressed and discriminated, i feel their fear and anxiety when they walk on the streets, i fell their longing for their love1s back at home). i have such high regards and respect to the people in the human rights organization in israel. they are trully modern heroes and every israeli (jew or non-jew) around the world should be proud of what these people are doing in order to ensure that foreign workers such as myself are treated humanely. kudos to all of u!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


© 2021

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑