Passover Now: Interfaith Seder to Free the Wounded Earth and Face the Pharaohs of Today

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Two years ago, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original Freedom Seder, The Shalom Center created an Interfaith Seder for the Earth to help us free ourselves from the greatest dangers of our time: What are
the Ten Plagues endangering the earth and human life today, who are the Pharaohs of today, and what are the Ten Blessings we ourselves can bring to heal the earth and our own societies?

    On our Website at there is a PDF version of the Earth Seder, easily downloadable and printable. Its cover (see the graphic just above) is by Avi Katz, illustrator for the Jerusalem Report.

    We urge you to consider holding this as a Second or Third Seder, Tuesday or Wednesday night of Passover, April 19 or 20; or before Passover and Palm  Sunday, during the week of April 10; or on Earth Day, April 22.

    If you do want to use the Earth Seder,  please consider the following requests:

    Please send The Shalom Center a donation (by check, at 6711 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia PA 19119, or by credit card, clicking on the purple "Donate" banner on the leftward margin.

    Please use this scale for your Seder donation:

    • $18 plus $1 for each participant in the Seder up to 100 (thus a family / friends Seder of 14 people would mean a fee of $32);
    • beyond 100 people (like a Hillel or congregational Seder), $118 plus 36 cents per participant.  (Thus for 200 people, it would be $154.)

    If even these low costs would impose a financial hardship on your family or your organization, let us know and we will work out an arrangement.

    The Interfaith Seder for the Earth especially draws on the ancient story of the Ten Plagues to address the plagues that are afflicting us today:  

    • unprecedented climate-caused droughts and fires in Russia Africa, and Australia;
    • unheard-of floods putting one-fifth of Pakistan under water;
    • the Gulf Oil  blowout disaster;
    • nuclear-power melt-downs at Chernobyl and (as I write) possibly at Fukushima; 
    • “fracking”  the Marcellus Oil Shale in Pennsylvania and New York and thus endangering the drinking water of millions of people;
    • as our planet heats up, the spread of what used to be tropical diseases into what used to be temperate zones; the most deadly wave of species extinctions in 65 million years.

    Each of the biblical “plagues” (undrinkable water, unprecedented hailstorms, mad cow disease, etc.) was an ecological disaster brought on by Pharaoh's greed for wealth and power, his hard-heartedness and arrogance, and his addiction to his own power. Each of them shattered human society as well as the fruitful earth.

    Today there are similar top-down pyramidal powers –- Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Banking -- that for the sake of their own enormous wealth and power are blocking the path toward a promised land of sustainable community nourished by sustainable sources of energy.

    The Seder lifts up not only the Ten Plagues that have been brought upon our generation by the pharaohs of today, but -- even more important -- Ten Healings for the earth that we ourselves can bring into being. The Seder will be a beginning, not an end in itself. Participants will decide how they themselves can take further action to heal earth and humanity from these dangers.

    Besides the Earth Seder PDF on our Website, there are now available from The Shalom Center's Shouk Shalom of books, CD's, DVD's, etc. two resources to help you create a powerful Earth Seder:

    The new book, Freedom Journeys: The Tale of Exodus and Wilderness Across Millennia, by Rabbis Arthur Waskow &  Phyllis Berman -– a book that looks deep into how the ancient Exodus tales can help us deal with our own world-wide crisis;

    A two-DVD set of film footage from the Freedom Seder of 1969 and the New Freedom Seder for the Earth of 2009, each celebrated in full interfaith joy by hundreds of people -- Jews, Christians, Muslims -- in Black churches in Washington DC. To order your copy, click here.

    As part of the Earth Seder, The Shalom Center is providing an accessible step-by-step Earth Seder Kit available for download from the Web site, including everything needed for planning a local Seder, from a shopping list to a model flyer and press release to a set-up checklist.

    Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace -- Arthur


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