In the early 1980s Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar, added an orange to the seder plate as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life.
We also light a Memorial Candle with the following blessing:
Leader: While rejoicing in this time of freedom, let us remember that many people are not free.
All: We remember our ancestors and ancestors-in-spirit who died that we might have freedom.
L: We remember tonight especially our brothers and sisters who were and are still being oppressed for being Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, or Bisexual.
A: We remember tonight our friends, companions, and those we have never met who have died or are slowly dying from AIDS and who are often even more quickly being destroyed by prejudice and a refusal to understand or care.
A: We light this candle that their memory shall shine forth and not be forgotten.
Blessed are You, Holy One, Source of the Universe, Who brings forth the light of fire.
L: Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
A: Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret place.
L: Blessed is the heart with strength to throb its last beat in dignity.
A: Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
In retelling the story of the ten plagues, we add:
Leader: Our cup is diminished further, because we as Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders also suffer under ten plagues.
Blood: The blood shed in the Nazi death camps and in Queer-bashings.
Laughter: The laughter caused by our stereotyped representation in jokes and the media.
Guilt: The guilt we are told is inherent in our simple existence.
Shame: The shame we are made to feel when we share our lives and our bodies with someone of the same gender as ourselves.
Despair: The despair we feel when we are told that we are evil and monstrous, that AIDS is God's judgment upon us.
Fear: The fear caused by a hostile society that would cast us out if it knew what we are.
Pain: The physical pain of being attacked by homophobes, and the mental pain of being rejected by family and community.
Loneliness: The loneliness of thinking that we are the only one of our kind.
Darkness: The darkness of our closets, and of where many of us are forced to spend our lives: the unsafe neighborhoods, cities, and countries encircling our globe.
Silence: The hollow silence of when we do not speak out in our own defense, the silence from one generation to another.
All: We may not have individually felt each plague, but since they afflict our sisters and brothers, they afflict us as well. Let us not become complacent.
Leader: And let us not become so involved with our own problems that we forget of others who also suffer. The road out of Egypt is open to all who flee slavery and seek the Promised Land.
We add a little levity with the songs. After the Jews are freed from bondage in Egypt and Moses has gone to Mount Sinai, we sing to the tune of “Hello Dolly”:
Well hello, Moses
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
Bring on those plagues, Moses.
Blood, boils, and frogs, Moses.
We are anxious,
Will God exit us?
It’s been -- way too long.
So, what’s your plan, Moses?
Pass it over us, Moses.
We are worried,
Can’t we scurry,
Here comes that -- Egypt throng.
GOL-ly Gee, Moses,
What’s THE big secret, Moses?
When are we gonna get away,
Are we really gonna get away,
You’ve got to help us get us away from here.