Elijah at Your Seder & New "Go Down Moses"

Dear friends, I have already written you how transformed and transformative was the #FreedomSeder50 just over a week ago, including Reverend William Barber's prophetic outcry for a protest by hundreds of clergy at the White House on June 6. I also shared how the Bible’s story of ancient resistance by women echoes in the painful and hope-filled stories of the subjugation and resistance of women today, told by Ana Maria Archila.  

Today I want to bring you two more aspects of the #FreedomSeder50  that you can bring into your own Seder, or into Holy Thursday tonight, or into evening iftar break-fasts during Ramadan soon to come.

We began the Seder evening by lifting up one of the most basic aspects of the Seder: the dialogue between elders and the younger generation. (For an exploration of this aspect of the Seder, see my paragraph just after the "Read more" in red at the "end"of this essay.)This time the dialogue was for the sake of the survival of the human race and much of life on earth.

On the Shabbat just before Pesach begins, we hear this same intergenerational motif by reading the last passage of the last of the Prophets, Malachi 3:23-24: “Before the coming of the great and awesome day of YHWH, the Interbreathing Spirit of the world, I will send you Elijah the Prophet to turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents, lest I [God] come and smite the Earth with utter destruction.”

So we did what the words say. We made ourselves Elijah. We brought the hearts of elders and youngers to meet each other by facing the most dangerous of all the tyrannical oppressions of our modern Pharaohs: their obsession with burning the world for the sake of Hyper-Profits. In the dinner just before the Seder, we brought me as Elder and a young man, Xavier Thomas, together to respond to the danger that our planet, our only home, is on the verge of burning.

On Seder night, just before you open the door for Elijah, you can overhear what it must mean for us all to become Elijah, by clicking here and sharing these seven minutes with the table:

Rabbi Waskow & Xavier Thomas: Elijah’s Covenant between the Generations, the Sunrise Movement, and the Green New Deal: <https://vimeo.com/330534521/34dfc639ea>

Three hours later, we ended the Seder by singing an old song created by Black America to recall the ancient Jewish liberation, Go Down Moses. We took its stretch across the centuries and different cultures to another level, with two new verses for the present and the future. . We invite you to join with #FreedomSeder50 by clicking to hear Reverend Rhetta Morgan lead us:

Rev Rhetta Morgan: "Go Down Moses"  or <https://youtu.be/DMm-pdVCNdo>

When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go;
Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go;
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
As Israel stood by the water-side, Let My people go;
At God’s command it did divide, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
When they had reached the other shore, Let My people go;
They sang the song of freedom o’er, Let My people go.
Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land,
Tell old Pharaoh: Let My people go!
Oh, set all Earth from bondage free, Let all My peoples go;
And let all life be free to Be, Let air and water flow.
Rise up, Yes Rise up -- No longer down in every land  --
Tell ALL Pharaohs: Let My Creation grow!
As we live here in America, Set our people free!
In all our colors we Resist, from Sea to shining Sea!
Rise up, O People, Rise up all across our Land--
Tell new Pharaohs, your oppressions will not stand!

And as I did yesterday, once more I invite you to bring into your own Seder the moment when  400 of us were deeply moved by the prophetic fervor with which  Reverend William Barber called for a: gathering of 1,000 clergy of all faiths at the White House on June 6. He quoted -- and more than quoted, he channeled -- Jeremiah's call to challenge a corrupt and murderous king at his own royal palace.


At a Seder, you could connect it with the Haggadah passage that says, ““In every generation, all human beings must look upon ourselves as if we ourselves, not our forebears only, go forth from slavery to freedom.”

We offer these videos as a gift for your own Seder, or Holy Thursday tonight, or an evening Iftar break-fast early in Ramadan (which begins in the Western calendar on the evening of May 5).  Once you have watched these videos yourself, please send this letter to all your friends and post it to social media with the hashtag #FreedomSeder50.

And then please feel free to play these brief video moments for everyone around your table to see, to hear, to discuss.

We at The Shalom Center will work to make these prophetic seeds grow into reality.  Please join us in growing them by making a contribution to The Shalom Center, and by spreading this message.

Please  share this letter with your friends by clicking to https://theshalomcenter.org

and please click on the maroon “Contribute” button just below.

Blessings that we sow the seeds of fuller freedom now and grow them to flower in our future! --  Arthur

The Seder -- mostly shaped under Roman occupation -- was in many ways a liberating transformation of the Roman-Hellenistic “symposium,” which was also a sacred philosophic conversation over four cups of wine. The Symposium put the power to frame the discussion in the hands of the sage Elder, because it was he who put the questions. (See Plato’s Symposium, where Socrates dominates the table by asking the “dummies” the questions they had to answer.) The ancient rabbis turned this upside down, at least symbolically, and freed this sacred four-cup meal by putting the Four Questions in the hands of children. The Seder became an open-ended conversation rooted in freedom. Chidren and grown-ups must iisten to each other.


Jewish and Interfaith Topics: