Chaverim Shel Shalom Haggadah: A Seder Celebrating the Fight Against Psychiatric Illness

Each year, members of Chaverim Shel Shalom, JF&C’ social program for Jewish adults living with psychiatric challenges, gather for a creative sederdeveloped by members of the group.  Written and refined over the past twenty year, the Haggadah for this seder celebrates both the strength needed to live with the challenges of mental illness as well as the triumphs experienced t through the recovery process. Like all Passover Seders, this event celebrates freed in all of its different forms. Below are some excerpts from the Chaverim Shel Shalom Haggadah you can use at your Passover Seder:


Let us remember,

for now and for all time,

that freedom starts

in our hands,

in our hearts,

in our minds,

with our souls.

Let us remember that

freedom begins

with acknowledging what is

and then choosing to be free,

taking actions to become free,

to feel free,

to allow freedom

and harmony

into our lives.



We now break the middle matzah in two and once again we are confronted by an odd paradox.  Matzah is the lechem oni, the food of poverty and affliction.  Yet it is simultaneously the symbol of our freedom.  This duality, like the salt water for the karpas, signifies the struggle and the complexity of our lives.  Sometimes the greatest conflicts are our best teachers.  Sometimes the moments we consider triumphs are the first signs of our downfall.

Yet in the end it is all of one piece: good and bad, luck and misfortune.  Life is nothing but a collection of paradoxes.  Our meal cannot end tonight until the two pieces are brought back together.  With that sense of unity we can celebrate the moments of redemption in our lives for it is God’s oneness that transcends the duality of our existence.  Even in the brokenness of this matzah, we will, in the end, re-connect-to each other-to humanity.  In the knowledge and experience of that unity, healing can begin.

For more info on Chaverim Shel Shalom, email Sandy Slavet at


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