- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006


The traditional Passover retelling of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt has received a miracle-free makeover from a New York rabbi.

“The Liberated Haggadah: A Passover Celebration for Cultural, Secular, and Humanistic Jews,” by Rabbi Peter H. Schweitzer, treats the story of the parting of the Red Sea and the flight from Pharoah as “wholly mythical.”

“At most, perhaps a small band of our ancestors — the Levite Tribe — experienced and escaped Egyptian slavery,” writes Mr. Schweitzer, rabbi of New York’s City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism and president of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. “But nearly all of the early Hebrews never stepped foot in Egypt and had no memory of this event.”

Whereas the traditional saga of Passover credits God with saving the Israelites, “The Liberated Haggadah” offers a “humanist drama” in which the Israelites save themselves.

“We tell the story because it is the first in recorded history to celebrate the idea that slaves could become free people,” writes Mr. Schweitzer. “It has inspired us — in our darkest moments — to hope for freedom renewed.”

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