A new kind of Haggadah has been made ahead of the Passover Seder, this time by the anti-Netanyahu protesters who have demonstrated for months outside the Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street, Jerusalem.
Given the title Avadim Hayinu: Ata Bnei Horin (meaning "we were slaves, now we are free men"), the Haggadah is 53 pages long and is full of art of the many anti-Netanyahu protests.
The concept is thematically appropriate. The entire theme of the Haggadah, normally, is to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt and the Israelites' journey to freedom. Now, that same spirit is captured by the protesters, who wish to once again free Israel from a who they see as a modern day tyrant. But rather than the slavery of Egypt's Pharaoh, it is instead from the clutches of a tyrant on Balfour Street.
The beginning of the Haggadah is similar to most others, albeit tightly packed, with the first three sections – Kadesh, the blessing over wine; Urhatz, the washing of hands without a blessing; Karpas, the dipping of parsley in saltwater; and Yahatz, the splitting of the middle matzah – being relegated to a single page.
The next section, Magid, which is by far the longest in the Seder and tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt, is the real heart of the Hagaddah, however. The pages are filled with pictures of the protests.
The pictures seem to be chosen specifically for being related to the pages at hand, which still depict the Magid section. For example, on page 4, which coincidentally covers the "Ma Nishtana" (the Four Questions) portion, the picture is of two young children at a protest, referencing how the questions are always asked by the youngest person at the Seder.
However, upon reading it, one might ask, why is this Hagaddah different from all others? That's because parts of the text aren't identical, and instead have been slightly modified to suit the theme. Examples of this include changing a reference to "yitziat Mitzraim" (the Exodus from Egypt) to "yitziat Balfour," referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inevitable exit from the Prime Minister's Residence.
But this is on full display in the section about the Four Sons. Normally, this section depicts four hypothetical children – haham, the wise son; rasha, the wicked son; tam, the simple son; and v'she'aino yodeya lishol, the son who does not know how to ask – and how they respond to the Exodus, and how parents should respond to them. However, in the Balfour Haggadah, the section instead refers to the Four Cases: 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and 4,000. Each of these cases are charges that Netanyahu is facing, being the Illegal Gifts Affair, the Israel Hayom-Yediot Aharonot Affair, the Submarine Affair and the Bezeq-Walla Affair, respectively.
This section is entirely rewritten, albeit in the same style, and includes a video of Attorney-General Avichai Mandeblit, a link to his office regarding the cases and several pictures.
It then continues with another version of the Four Sons, this time with the traditional names. But this is still entirely rewritten, with the wise child saying that they don't watch Israeli news broadcasters Channel 11, Channel 12 and Channel 13 for Balfour protest news, and "only watch Orly Barlev."Barlev is an independent journalist and a social activist.
From here, the text continues to change to reflect the theme. The next most notable change is the listing of the 10 plagues, which rather than saying God struck Egypt with them, now says Netanyahu struck Israel with them. While most of the plagues are all still listed (the plagues of pestilence and boils were replaced with incitement and sedition, and the plague of locusts replaced with "many," as the two words sound very similar in Hebrew), they now come not only with pictures, but explanations. The plague of blood refers to the over 6,000 who died from COVID-19; the plague of frogs refers to the tar spill that Israel was unprepared for despite state comptroller reports and warnings; the plague of lice refers to the promises from Benny Gantz and Blue and White; the plague of "many" referring to the growth in tycoons and wealth consolidation coinciding with the rising poverty during Netanyahu's time in office; and the plague of darkness referring to Netanyahu's concealment of certain important arms deals, such as the Submarine Affair and approval for the US to sell the F-35 to the UAE and more.
The song "Dayenu" has been replaced entirely with references to actions taken by Netanyahu, and the famous "Pesach, Matzah and Maror" section at the end of Magid (said to be the most important topics, and if one does not read them, the mitzvah of the Seder has not been fulfilled) with "Bribery, Fraud and Breach of Trust," which are charges the prime minister is facing.
The next part of the Seder, Rahtza, which is the washing of hands with a blessing, sees the entire blessing replaced, with God's name replaced with Netanyahu, reading "Blessed are you Netanyahu, who appointed [Public Security Minister Amir] Ohana to make the police his private army," with the picture showing protesters truck by water cannons.
Even the Barech section, which is the blessing following the meal, didn't go unchanged. The portion with verses normally beginning with "Harahaman" (The Merciful) now beginning with "Hanasham" (the defendant) and including further criticism of the prime minister.
The final section, Nirtza, which consists of songs, saw several thematic alterations as well. Among the most notable is the song "Ahad, mi yodeya" (Who knows one?) which has almost the entirety (oddly enough, "who knows eight" remains the same) of its lyrics altered. For example, "who knows three," rather than refer to the three biblical forefathers, now refers to the three state's witnesses against the prime minister; "who knows five" refers to a fifth round of elections; "who knows nine" refers to how long the Netanyahu-Gantz unity government lasted; and "who knows thirteen" referring to the number of ministers said government had.
And finally, the final song, "Had Gadya" (one kid), remains mostly untouched barring the very last verse, which changes entirely from the previous verses. Rather than having God come and kill the Angel of Death, who killed the butcher, who killed the ox, who drank the water, etc., the verse refers to the many anti-Netanyahu protest movements who "overthrew the government and restored the nation's hope."
Rather than concluding with the traditional "Next Year in Jerusalem" song, the song appears twice, both times changed. The first: "Next Year in an Open, Democratic Israel." The second: "Next Year as Free Men."
The Haggadah can be viewed here.