In 2014, BPI created a Haggadah supplement in partnership with Rev. Vivian Nixon, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts II, Bard President Leon Botstein, and author Anya Kamenetz. Over the years, we have been delighted by the response and, following many requests, are pleased to share it with you again this year.
This Passover, the supplement is particularly timely. The global crisis has challenged everyone to question more, assume less, and acknowledge how little any of us can take for granted. With so much in doubt, the challenge of justice and practice of sharing knowledge are more urgent than ever. As we remember the rise out of Egypt and up from slavery, let’s also recognize those among us today who are most vulnerable to hardship, illness, and injustice. Speak for those who are in prison; honor the challenges of those who have not benefited from the empowerment of a loving education; and, help those who are ill, especially when others will not.
BPI’s supplement reinterprets the traditional Four Questions to promote discussion and awareness about freedom, incarceration, and the value of education – each of which is intrinsically linked to the Passover story. The four questions we present are: What is mass incarceration? What does Passover teach us about this issue? Why do we need higher education in prison? What does this issue mean to me as a Jew? A distinguished group of contributors have offered brief, thought-provoking responses.
This season, people of all faiths will reflect on questions of freedom, justice, and redemption. For those of you who participate in a Seder, I hope that you will use this supplement and discuss the role of education in a society that truly values freedom. If successful, this supplement will remind participants that to honor history, and all those who suffered in slavery, one cannot exclusively commemorate struggles of the past. Instead, that acknowledgment of our past requires asking how we can make our own society more just, more compassionate, and more free in the year ahead.
Here’s to building a safer, fairer world when we get back together soon.