New HIAS Haggadah Ready for Your Seder Table

By Sharon Samber,

New HIAS Haggadah Ready for Your Seder Table

The cover of the new HIAS Haggadah.

(Hillel Smith)

Matzah? Check.

Wine? Check.

Brand new color haggadah from HIAS that allows for a deeper exploration of the connection between the Passover story and today's global refugee crisis? Check.

This year, as the Passover holiday nears, HIAS is pleased to provide a haggadah with a modern take on the traditional Seder, full of personal stories of refugees and asylum seekers and inspirational readings. The retelling of the Exodus from Egypt is the Jewish people’s original refugee story, and this haggadah urges readers to think of those still in need of protection: the more than 68 million displaced people around the world today.

In recent years HIAS has published a haggadah supplement; this is the first complete refugee-themed version of the text the organization has published. The fresh approach to the traditional Seder includes reimagining many of the Passover rituals, such as including a discussion of the violence and hardships that refugees face today in concert with the recitation of the biblical ten plagues.

“The purpose of the haggadah is to remind ourselves that the Passover story never really ends, but, rather, our role in the story shifts,” says Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, HIAS’ Rabbi-in-Residence, who compiled this version of the haggadah, combining traditional sections with her own original liturgical content. “What we truly hope is that those who use the HIAS Haggadah will rise up from their tables and take action and get involved in helping those in need.”

The cover of the HIAS Haggadah echoes that important theme from the book: “In every generation see yourself as though you left Egypt.” The words fill the outline of a faceless person while the background shows ancient Egypt and a modern city so that everyone can see themselves in the drawing. The creative illustrations and design are by artist Hillel Smith.

Throughout the haggadah there are different ways for participants to feel the connection between past and present as well as discussion topics and challenges posed to the group and the individual. In one section the four children are reinterpreted as different types of people and their reactions (or lack thereof) to the refugee crisis.

The final part of the HIAS Haggadah includes a new fifth cup of wine, emphasizing the communal aspiration to bring change in the world.

“Tonight, we honor the strength and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers across the globe. We commit ourselves to supporting them as they rebuild their lives and to championing their right for protection. Just as our own people now eat the bread of liberation, we pray that today’s refugees and asylum seekers will fulfill their dreams of rebuilding their lives in safety and freedom in the year to come.”


The HIAS Haggadah is available as a free download at  Printed paperback copies may be ordered on

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