By Dr. Erica Brown
[To be recited at the Seder before “In every generation they seek to destroy us…Bkhol dor va-dor omdim aleinu l’chalotenu”]
In every generation, they seek to destroy us, but they have not destroyed us. This holy night is a “leil shimurim” – the night of God’s watchfulness – “one of vigil for all Israelites throughout the ages” [Exodus 12:42]. O Lord, watch over us this night and all other nights.
Shield us from the forces of hate and evil that continue to hurt and imperil us without reason. Offer us the psalmist’s enduring protection under your heavenly guise, “Behold, the Protector of Israel will neither sleep nor slumber” [Psalms 121:4].
On this Seder night we remember our holy brothers and sisters who died in the name of baseless hatred in Pittsburgh and Kansas, in Europe and Israel and all across the globe. May we heighten our acts of kindness to honor their sacred memory. Their empty chairs at the Passover Seder remind us of our obligation to speak out against all hate and injustice.
Give us the strength to stay faithful to tradition and uphold the prophet’s vision to be a “shomer emunim” [Isaiah 26:2], a guard of the covenant even in our darkest days. Give us the honesty to name and eradicate the hate in our own hearts that we may be worthy this Passover night of greater love. And let us watch over each other with love and without judgment.
Dr. Erica Brown is an associate professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development and the director of its Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership.