The Freedom Haggadah: A Story of Protest and Hope

Photo by Erez Harodi of Israel democracy protest in 2023. Photo shows a large crowd of people holding Israeli flags. A large sign in the front reads "The state of Israel will be founded on freedom, justice, and peace" in both English and Hebrew. Another protest sign reads, "SOS Bibi wants to destroy Israel."

This [noglossary]haggadah[/noglossary] was created in [noglossary]Israel[/noglossary] as a reflection of the spirit of the recent ongoing protests in Israel (April 2023) in response to threats to Israeli democracy by the current government. The full text of the Freedom Haggadah can be viewed at this link. Photo above by Erez Harodi. The Freedom Haggadah was edited by Benny Barabash, Yaara Shehori and Dov Elboim, and the coordinator for the English version was Sigal Naim. The introduction below is by translator Joanna Chen.

For the past three months, I’ve been wondering how to contribute in a meaningful way to the struggle against the threat to Israel’s democracy and the continued existence of Israel as a free country. When I was contacted by the organizers of the ongoing struggle, I jumped at the chance to translate some of the beautiful work written by leading Hebrew language poets for this unique Freedom Haggadah. It was a rush job, with several other wonderful translators, such as Maya Klein, Jessica Cohen and Lisa Katz.

This haggadah perfectly reflects the spirit of the times alongside the traditional words of the haggadah. “Who knows one? I know one: One is our struggle! Not up in the heavens but all over the land,” writes Noa Yedlin, in an artful interpretation of one of the most famous songs at the end of the haggadah.

Included are also original texts by Nurit Zarchi, David Grossman, Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, among many others. As a literary translator, I’m thrilled and honored to be a part of this. I look forward to reading from the Freedom Haggadah around the Pesakh table with my family; I invite you to do the same.

Joanna Chen

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