Censoring Jerusalem at American Seders

In its opening section, the Passover Haggadah contains the words, “this year we are here; next year may we be in Jerusalem.” More famously, it ends—as does the Yom Kippur liturgy—with the exultant “Next year in Jerusalem!” Jonathan Sarna relates why and how many 19th-century American versions of the text omitted this coda:

“Next year in Jerusalem” could be construed (at least by enemies of the Jewish people) as a statement of disloyalty. It implied that Jews weren’t truly “at home” in the Diaspora and couldn’t wait to scurry back to Jerusalem. “Next year in Jerusalem” thus became taboo, because it courted danger.

In the mid-1800s, some in the American Jewish community explicitly addressed this fear. One such was Gustavus Poznanski, the Reform-minded minister of Charleston’s Temple Beth Elohim. Speaking at the dedication of his flock’s new house of worship on March 19, 1841, just five days prior to Passover, he emphatically declared that “this synagogue is our temple, this city our Jerusalem, this happy land our Palestine.” The Orthodox Isaac Leeser of Philadelphia, in the Haggadah he printed and translated within his Passover maḥzor (prayer book), omitted [the Hebrew phrase] L’shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yrushalayim altogether.

More commonly, though, 19th-century American Haggadahs (like earlier German versions and David Levi’s British one) did include L’shanah ha-ba’ah bi-Yrushalayim in Hebrew—in big, bold letters, no less. However, they left those words conspicuously untranslated. Those who knew Hebrew thus understood the intent, while those who might have objected remained blissfully oblivious.

Read more at Segula

More about: American Judaism, Haggadah, Jerusalem, Seder

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority