The Four Cups of Redemption: Women’s Pathways to the Exodus

The Four Cups of Redemption: Women’s Pathways to the Exodus (A Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Haggadah)

Welcoming Our Seder Guests

Welcome to our Muslim and Jewish sisters who gather with us this evening.  We welcome your wisdom, your guidance and your resilience. We celebrate the collective strength that comes from each of your extraordinary lives.

We also welcome the women who came before us, those whom history counts in its record and those whom history has left out. Tonight, we make a place for all women at our seder table. It is the altar that connects our personal backstories to our Sisterhood’s current priorities. A place to remember and a place to start anew.    

What you will experience tonight is a haggadah, a verbal and written retelling of this story.  The booklet before you will serve as a guide that textualized the experience of the Exodus and the foods you will eat will provide the flavour.  Still, this retelling would be incomplete with you, our honoured guests, and the common heritage and history that binds us together as women. We, therefore, invite your questions, your considerations and your celebration of festive joy.  

After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Passover story was codified in a haggadah, a written retelling of the events that led the Israelites from slavery to freedom. Some thinkers and religious leaders say the haggadah mirrors Greek symposia, or a dramatic reenactment of the Exodus while others emphasize the retelling as a response to the Temple’s destruction.

Modern written haggadot are as numerous as the stars. Some follow the legalistic or halakhic order of the retelling while others do somewhat or not at all. The first haggadot adopted by women’s organizations in North America were published 25 years ago, though Jewish women have been writing poetical and non-legalistic story and prose for nearly six thousand years.

The retelling of this story involves ordering the seder table in a very specific way. In fact, the word “seder” means just that; the fulfilment of particular ritual, blessing, song and food consumption that when followed, ensure we tell the story of Israelite liberation and plight just right. This flows from the commandment in Exodus 13:8 to tell our children of the Hebrews liberation from slavery. Memory provides not only knowledge but the necessary moral grounding to yield redemption.

This is why we have chosen to frame our story as a conversation with the women of the Exodus narrative. By walking with women from slavery to freedom, Muslim and Jewish women can find the strength within themselves and each other to reorder the world through the view of the seder and through this, create a table made whole by sisterhood, in which all women and all people can safely dwell.   

Download the haggadah below

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