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The Union Haggadah, ed. by The Central Council of American Rabbis [1923], at

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Reform Judaism and Passover

One thing to me is clear: namely, the urgent present duty of all Liberal Jews to observe the Passover. And when I say "to observe" it, I mean to observe it properly with its ancient symbolism and its ancient forms. This means that Liberal Jews must (a) observe the first and seventh day of Passover as days of "rest" and worship; (b) observe the old ceremonial whereby for seven days unleavened bread is eaten at meals. It is also eminently desirable to retain in some modified form the domestic service upon the first night of the festival. . . The Passover celebrates the beginning of the self-consciousness of Israel; the setting forth of Israel upon its mission.. It is the festival which commemorates the giving of a charge, the founding of a mission, the institution of a brotherhood, which were intended to spread the knowledge of God throughout the world.

Again, the Passover is the festival of liberty—liberty in political life, liberty in moral life, liberty in religious life. How immense the range!

But what is Liberty? It is freedom through law. Passover leads on to Pentecost, the festival which celebrates the giving of the Law.

Claude Montefiore, Outlines of Liberal Judaism, p. 254-6.

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Long must be thy journey, O Israel, jubilee-crowned, long must it still continue! But wearied, wearied thou wilt never be! Still in thy native strength dost thou stand, O incomparable one! Still does the youthful blood flow lustily in thy veins! Still awaitest thou with the glowing ardor of battle, the countless hosts thou wilt in the end marshal for thy God. Nor, having marked the path which thou hast trod, can we ever doubt thy signal victory at last. Rejoice, then, in thy natal feast, O Israel, and take from us anew our solemn vows to cling unto thee with undying love and faith for ever!

David Einhorn, Sinai, vol. 1.


The high aim sanctified by time and by Judaism is, that all men be free, all recognize God, all employ their spiritual and material powers with full and free desire, so that a throne be built for truth and justice on this earth, a throne which shall adorn the lowliest hut as well as the most glorious palace.

Samuel Hirsch, The Reform Movement in Judaism, by David Philipson, p. 487.

Freedom is the indispensable condition of goodness’ virtue, purity and holiness. . .Take away freedom from human nature and whatever remains of it is an anomaly, some nameless thing of human form and animal indifference. "Wisdom and cognition", of which the prophet speaks as "the stability of thy times and the fort of thy salvation", are the golden fruits of the free reason, the free-willed man only; they ripen not in the dark and dismal dungeon of the enslaved soul.

Isaac Mayer Wise, Sermons by American Rabbis, 1896, p. 181.

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However burdensome the Passover minutiae, especially in regard to the prohibition of leaven, became to the Jewish household, the predominant feature was always an exuberance of joy. In the darkest days of medievalism the synagogue and home resounded with song and thanksgiving, and the young imbibed the joy and comfort of their elders through the beautiful symbols of the feast and the richly adorned tale of the deliverance (the Haggadah). The Passover feast with its "night of divine watching" endowed the Jew ever anew with endurance during the dark night of medieval tyranny, and with faith in "the Keeper of Israel who slumbereth not nor sleepeth". Moreover, as the spring-tide of nature fills each creature with joy and hope, so Israel's feast of redemption promises the great day of liberty to those who still chafe under the yoke of oppression. The modern Jew is beginning to see in the reawakening of his religious and social life in western lands the token of the future liberation of all mankind. The Passover feast brings him the clear and hopeful message of freedom for humanity from all bondage of body and of spirit.

Kaufman Kohler, Jewish Theology, p. 462.


The great redemption holds us with its fascination, but only to bid our hearts go out to all the history of our race. This people "saved of the Lord with an everlasting salvation"—this people that gave the world Moses and the Prophets and the Saints, that has lived and died for God's truth—this people, we say, is ours. We are the sharers of its glories and its humiliations, the heirs to its divine promise and its sublime ideals. This people, we say moreover, began its life with a

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protest against wrong. It has lived its life protesting against wrong. And it has done so by moral force alone. Inherently weak, it has been made mighty by its cause, so that "no weapon formed against it has prospered"—neither persecution nor calumny, neither the sword nor the stake, neither the world's enticements nor the persuasive arts of an alien priesthood. Powerful nations have tried to destroy it; but they have perished, while their would-be victim has lived on. We who seemed "appointed to die" are the living history of the dead nations; for their annals are written with pen of iron upon the sacred soul of our race. "This", we cry, "is the finger of God". A people is not thus wondrously preserved to live aimlessly. Still is God's mighty arm outstretched. "As in the days of our coming forth out of the land of Egypt God will show us marvelous things".

Morris Joseph, The Message of Judaism, pp. 101-2.

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