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The Soviet Campaign against Passover

April 14 2016

In the 1920s, the Soviet Union authorized Jewish sections of the Communist Party to bring government propaganda, often in Yiddish, to the Jewish masses; the same bureaucrats also worked to discourage, sometimes forcibly, Jewish belief and practice. Henry Abramson describes an attempt to turn Passover into a secular, socialist holiday:

Recognizing the powerful hold that religion had on Soviet Jews, the Jewish sections . . . attempted to co-opt the population by capturing and transforming Jewish traditions and texts, including the Passover Haggadah. Called “Red Haggadahs,” several were published in the 1920s with the explicit goal of replacing belief in God with faith in the Soviet Union. . . .

The traditional text . . . reads . . . “If the Holy One, Blessed be He, did not take our ancestors out of Egypt, then we, our children, and our children’s children would remain slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.” The officially atheistic Soviet Union could not tolerate such a passage, so the text of a Red Haggadah read instead: “We were slaves to capitalism until October [i.e., the Communist Revolution of 1917] led us out of the land of exploitation with a strong hand. Were it not for October, we and our children would still be slaves.” . . .

At the seder’s conclusion, Jews famously proclaim “This year we are here—next year in Jerusalem!” Following the Red Haggadah, participants at the seder are urged to pronounce, “This year, we have revolution in this land—next year we will have a world revolution!”

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More about: Communism, Haggadah, History & Ideas, Passover, Soviet Jewry, Soviet Union

Germany’s Bid to Keep Israel off the UN Security Council

March 21 2018

The Jewish state has never held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. For the first 50 years of its existence, it was denied membership in any of the UN’s regional groups, which control candidacies for these rotating seats. Then it was finally admitted to the Western European and Others Group, which promptly agreed to wait another twenty years before approving Jerusalem for a Security Council candidacy. Now, Benny Avni notes, Germany is poised to block action:

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More about: Germany, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-German relations, United Nations