Censoring Jerusalem at American Seders https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/history-ideas/2023/03/censoring-jerusalem-at-american-seders/

March 29, 2023 | Jonathan Sarna
About the author: Jonathan Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun professsor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University and chief historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History. He has written, edited, or co-edited more than 30 books. The most recent, co-authored with Benjamin Shapell, is Lincoln and the Jews: a History.

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 on Segula: https://www.academia.edu/s/288843d266