Why a New Seder and Haggadah for Israel Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut)?
In Israel, many celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in nature, connecting with the land, having a picnic or taking a hike. We offer you a new ritual for Yom Ha’atzmaut, built around a picnic seder. The enclosed haggada divides Israel’s Declaration of Independence into seven sections and associates a candle, food and discussion with each section. What better way to celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut than by looking again at the State of Israel’s core values?
The number seven reminds us of Israel’s state symbol, the seven-branched menorah surrounded by an olive branch. More importantly seven is the number of wholeness, of Shabbat, and peace. In our haggadah, the first six sections contain a portion of the Declaration of Independence, with the seventh left to offer our own prayers and hopes for the future.
Join us in exploring the hopes and dreams of our ancestors, which are captured in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Reflect on Israel’s story since its establishment. Share aspirations for Israel’s safe and peaceful future, a future that includes religious tolerance, acceptance and welcome for all.
Just as the hopes and dreams of our foreparents have paved our way, so may our hopes and dreams pave the way for our children. May our hopes and dreams for the State of Israel bring us closer to a time of peace.
Use our new Reconstructionist Yom Ha’atzmaut haggadah to enrich a picnic seder of your own, outdoors or indoors at your home or congregation. We’re excited to introduce this new way to observe Israel’s Independence Day, with rituals, food, blessings, songs, fun facts and questions.
Documents and Instructions
In addition to downloading or printing the mobile-friendly haggadah, you may wish to print copies of the support documents below for your seder.
Our haggadah is designed for use in different ways by different groups. For adult study—in pairs or small groups—each individual may want and need a copy of the Declaration of Independence. For these adults, the haggadah might be printed or projected depending on your setting and group. Families or children might use the haggadah as the central text, and a leader or adult with each group might read selections from the Declaration aloud. The important thing is to look through the materials in advance, consider the needs of your group and prepare accordingly.
We encourage your creativity and inventiveness. We are eager to hear how you experienced this new ritual, what insights you gained and how we might improve it in the future.
Packing List: You’ll need to gather the supplies for the seder in advance. This helpful list includes the items you’ll need.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence: The haggadah includes prompts to read text from a corresponding section of the Declaration of Independence. This copy of the Declaration is divided to match the seder.
Questions: These questions can guide your discussion in each section of the haggadah. Print them out and tape them to the table for reference or save them to your tablet or phone. When the haggadah prompts you to discuss a section of the Declaration, refer to these questions.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut Haggadah: This is the main document for your seder. At certain points in the seder, you’ll be prompted to refer to the Israeli Declaration of Independence or the list of questions. We suggest printing out those two documents, and accessing this haggadah on your mobile device. You can also print the haggadah, if you prefer.
After you use the haggadah to guide your seder, we’d love to hear from you af feedback@ReconstructingJudaism.org. Please let us know what worked well and what we could improve.
This ritual was created by Cyd Weissman, Rabbi Roni Handler, and Adina Newberg.
Bina, The Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture, created a seder as a resource to support their goal of creating a contemporary commentary for Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Inspired by their example, we created a new ritual based on their seder. Bina is a part of the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance—a circle of institutions and organizations in Israel devoted to democracy and religious pluralism. Several RRC students have studied at Bina, and our community’s visits to Israel often include time spent with the organizations of the Israeli-Jewish Renaissance. The Reconstructionist movement is proud to partner with Bina and others in the Israeli Jewish Renaissance.