By Shir Dimensha, Professor of Comparative Literature
New York, April 17 – The quantity of self-identifying progressives in our society has grown steadily in recent decades, in volume if not absolute numbers, but the best way to demonstrate one’s seriousness in the progressive realm remains to take an ancient Jewish text about individual and national liberation, and reinterpret it to divorce it from its original meaning and replace the Jews of the original with the marginalized group of your choice.
You may have attended all the right BDS rallies and signed all the cool petitions calling for the impeachment of that racist in the White House; you may have submitted a paper exploring the various ways in which beloved children’s books actually convey sinister, fascist messages; you may fall to your knees every time you encounter a person of color, and ask how you can atone for the atrocities your ancestors most certainly perpetrated against theirs. None of those, however, reach the same rarefied stratum of progressive credentials as the de-Judaification of the Passover Haggadah.
The specific choice of marginalized population with which to replace Jews in your Haggadah matters less than the very fact of replacement. By removing Jews from the Haggadah, you declare you have arrived at the sine qua non of progressivism: subordinating Jewish concerns, rights, and culture to those of other groups.
Understandably, many observers of this practice elect to replace Jews with groups among whom they count themselves, but many progressives, through no fault of their own, have at least one Jewish parent, and thus, as determined by the high priests of the progressive movement, can never attain pure membership in any such group. The only choice these unfortunate Jews, far removed as they might be from their heritage and traditions, have, remains abject surrender to a culture infused with hate for the Jew. We therefore are witness to the blessed phenomenon of progressive Jews replacing their ancestral people with Palestinians, or Muslims in general, in the Haggadah narrative, the better to prove they belong in the movement.
But whether one composes a Muslim Haggadah, a trans Haggadah, an undocumented immigrant Haggadah, or the anti-Trump Resistance Haggadah, that step provides its creator with impeccable woke credentials: it represents a real-life manifestation of the demonstrator who punched the Nazi who smirked at an indigenous activist who shouted down a right-wing speaker who committed microaggressions against people of color that your ancestors bought as slaves for two zuzim.
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