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The Ecological Roots of the Passover Haggadah

Mar 3, 2021 - 12:00 pm EST - 1:00 pm EST

This is a two part event: Wednesday 3/3/21 12-1pm and Wednesday 3/10/21 8-9pm.

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Passover marks both, the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, and the coming of spring. Yet it is also a story about our relationship to land and the natural world. The Jewish calendar is agrarian, all our holidays revolve around a shared pastoral history and yet today we are removed from that tradition. Our well-being and our freedom ultimately depend on a healthy earth, and yet we continue to pollute as if there will always be more chances. Passover has the opportunity to offer us a more nuanced framing in which we explore what our freedom might look like on a compromised earth.

In the first session, we’ll be exploring the deep ecological underpinnings of the Passover haggadah, and digging into R. Ellen B’s Passover Haggadah, The Promise of the Land. This session will include a short text study and plenty of time for questions and discussion.

The second session, in partnership with the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, we will have a brief overview of the ecological themes of the Haggadah followed by a discussion of how you can host a community wide Earth Seder either via Zoom or socially distanced in-person (outdoors). Learn how leaders of Earth Seders for Pesach 2020 navigated the terrain of the Promise of the Land haggadah in the time of a pandemic. Receive tips on how to bring your seder to life while ensuring an inclusive and deeply ecological experience.

For both sessions, and to support Rabbi Ellen’s work, consider purchasing a hard copy or e-book of The Promise of the Land Haggadah from Behrman House, Barnes and Noble or Amazon for this session. These sessions will be much more accessible with a haggadah in your hands.

Rabbi Ellen Bernstein founded Shomrei Adamah, the first national Jewish environmental organization in 1988. She is author of numerous books on the intersection of Judaism and ecology including Let the Earth Teach You Torah, The Splendor of Creation, and The Promise of the Land. In 2020, Ellen encouraged and helped launch the Earth Seder movement in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Ellen also developed the first ecologically centered Tu B’Shvat seder, The Birthday of the Trees. Today, Ellen continues to write and teach on Judaism, Bible and Ecology and is on the advisory board of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology. To learn more, please visit www.ellenbernstein.org.