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


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy