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"Next Year in Florida"

By Tzvi Fishman
4/11/2008, 12:00 AM

Last night, I had a very disturbing dream. I was working on my blog when this news headline popped onto the screen:

Dateline New York

In a rare display of solidarity, the main streams of American Judaism, the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements, have issued a joint announcement banning the printing this year of the last page of the Passover Haggadah, which relates the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  Michael Vienner, spokesman for the Adhoc Coalition of American Jewry, explains that the last page of the Haggadah contains the sentence, “Next year in Jerusalem,” something that Jews have been saying for the last two thousand years, ever since they were exiled from the Land of Israel.

Passover Haggadah

“Why turn the Jewish People into liars?” Vienner asks. “The truth is that the Jews aren’t going on aliyah to Israel in more than a minuscule trickle. There were maybe 1000 this year out of five million. It isn’t even a hundredth of a percentage point. So why say that we are going there? Judaism has always fostered truth, so why make Jewish fathers into liars in the eyes of their children?”

The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization that promotes aliyah to Israel has filed a protest against the ban. “The call to return to Jerusalem has held the Jewish People together throughout our long exile,” their outraged spokesman said. “The wilderness was never meant to be the final stop of the Exodus. We were to receive the Torah at Sinai and journey on to Jerusalem.”

But Michael Vienner disagrees. “Most Jews have the money to move to Israel,” he says. “But with the growing Arab missile threat, moving there at this time is suicide. So we would rather have people say, ‘Next year in New York, or in Los Angeles, or in Florida.’”

The Coalition has recommended Jews not to use Passover Haggadahs that have already been printed with the traditional Jerusalem conclusion, lest someone say the prayer out of habit. “It’s best that the old Haggadahs be stored away with the chametz,” Vienner advices. “Hopefully in the future, the situation in Israel will change and we will be able to restore the text’s original reading.”

Please assure me that I was dreaming.