NIF Australia Launches “The Other Haggadah”

A Unique Collection of Stories to Bring New Insights and Discussions to the Seder Table

Today the New Israel Fund Australia launched “The Other Haggadah”, a unique collection of stories to bring new insights and discussions to the Pesach seder table. It can be viewed at: www.TheOtherHaggadah.org.

Front_cover_snapshot.pngCo-authored by two of NIF Australia’s inaugural Naomi Chazan Fellows, Elysheva Elsass and Eli Oshorov, the supplement includes perspectives from contemporary Israel reflecting on the themes of freedom and justice that are central to the Pesach story.

Five important social, economic and political issues in Israel today are considered in The Other Haggadah: refugees and asylum seekers; freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank; public housing; agunot (women who are chained to their marriages); and Bedouin society.

The New Israel Fund is a leading funder of civil society in Israel; its work focuses on all five of the issues explored in The Other Haggadah.

The Other Haggadah is presented as a website with interactive videos and images, and as a printable PDF file.

The Other Haggadah begins:

Each Pesach, we sit and read the Exodus story. "With an outstretched arm, God took you out of Egypt." We discuss freedom, equality, oppression, and how these ancient themes reverberate through Jewish history in every generation. As the Haggadah says, “In each and every generation, a person is obligated to regard himself as though he actually left Egypt.”

The Haggadah reminds us that we were strangers in the Land of Egypt. Its authors understood how easy it would be for us to forget that we had also been “the other”, the stranger.

Today, we see these same things affecting society's most vulnerable. In response, we've put together a range of stories from modern day Israel, relating to women, poverty, Palestinians, and people seeking asylum.

As Elysheva Elsass, co-author of The Other Haggadah, commented: “Israel isn’t alone in facing challenges like marginalisation and poverty. Pesach is a time to reflect on how we can apply our Jewish values to situations we care about. Hopefully, this Pesach, we will see more people engaged in Israeli issues, working together to create a more equitable and just Israel.”

Eli Oshorov, co-author of The Other Haggadah, said: “Pesach seders are increasingly relevant as we are able to bring in stories of injustice that are present in our modern societies. Given how central Israel is to so many of our Jewish identities, The Other Haggadah is a good opportunity to learn more about those being left behind in Israeli society, spark discussions with family and friends, and learn how we can help shape a more inclusive Israel.”

Liam Getreu, executive director of the New Israel Fund Australia, summed up the supplement’s value: “Pesach is a chag that allows us to combine three areas so many of us are passionate about: social justice, Israel and Jewish learning. The Other Haggadah isn’t meant to replace the haggadah you usually use – it adds to your experience of the seder by considering some important issues facing contemporary Israel.”