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Eat, Drink + Think

Dayenu, Is It Enough?

As we celebrate the Passover Seder, we sing, Dayenu, perhaps the most recognized of Passover songs. We sing “It would have been enough” to take us of Egypt, and “it would have been enough” to split the sea, and “it would have been enough” to give us the Torah and Shabbat. But as we sit and feast, we must recognize that there are those in our community who will go to sleep enslaved to the empty feeling in their bellies for lack of food. There are those in our community who are trapped in food deserts without access to fresh produce. There are those whose lives are broken because of the broken food system.

Here is a version of the Dayenu that we use in my house. Feel free to share it widely to spur a discussion about can be done. Special thanks to Rabbis Ahud Sela and Scott Perlo who helped me craft the original version for a hunger seder we did in Los Angeles.

On this night, as we tell our story of the Exodus, we partner with God and ask, “have we done enough to act compassionately to open our hands to those who are hungry?” In this spirit, we read not the Dayenu of “It is enough”, but the Dayenu of, “IS IT ENOUGH?”

When I donate the contents of your my cupboards before Passover.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I bring a can of food to the synagogue.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I sign an advocacy postcard.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I volunteer one hour at a food bank.
Dayenu ?– is it enough?

When I plant a food garden with the intention of sharing my produce.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I attend educational workshops.
Dayenu?– is it enough?

When I glean fruit trees in your the neighborhood.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I call a Congressman.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I make a regular commitment to volunteer.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I join a legislative campaign.
Dayenu? – is it enough?

When I do anyone of the things alone.
Lo Dayenu – it is not enough.

No single action can fix our broken food system, but we pray tonight that through our collective actions taken together, and in partnership with God, we can work to make sure that there will be a night in the future where no one goes to sleep with the pain of an empty stomach, no one feels their dignity impugned for being poor, and all can share in the bounty of the earth and say, “Blessed are You, God, Who gives sustenance to all.”

Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino is the founder of Netiya, an L.A.-based network of Jewish organizations focused on food education for environmental and social justice. He can be reached at nfarkas@vbs.org, and @RabbiNoah on Twitter.

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