Secular Passover celebrations

The City Congregation celebrates Passover as a joyous spring holiday of rebirth and as a commemoration of the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt, without overlooking modern scholarship that has called the Exodus legend into question. For Humanistic Jews the fact that our ancestors have retold the Passover story for so many centuries is what makes the holiday significant, not the murky details of the original story itself. We retell the tale because doing so links us to our families and the generations that have preceded us.

Secular Seder

Although many of us celebrate at home with our families on the first night of the holiday, we also hold a community non-theistic Passover seder on a convenient day during  week or the week preceding. Our text is The Liberated Haggadah: A Passover Celebration for Cultural, Secular, and Humanistic Jews. Historically accurate, it celebrates our forebears, ancient and modern, who made the trip to freedom. Rabbi Tzemah Yoreh leads the services with everybody participating. Guests are welcome.

seder at city congregation

Why do Humanistic Jews celebrate Passover?

As Humanistic Jews, we accept the Exodus narrative as myth, not as fact. We know that Moses couldn’t have parted the Red Sea, and we know that the ten plagues of Egypt are mostly scientifically implausible. So, why do we continue to celebrate Passover? Why continue to pass this story down through generations?

We choose to tell this story because it celebrates our forebears, ancient and modern, who’ve made the trip to freedom. We look at the story as a human drama that recognizes how our ancestors survived suffering and oppression by the virtue of fortitude and resilience, and we embrace the message that enslaved people can aspire to freedom.

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Member presentation and telling stories at high holiday services and passover seder