Passover Seder Song Lyrics Contest

Song Contest LogoWe invite YOU to participate in a Passover Song Lyrics Contest! Write new lyrics about the issue of child labor in the cocoa fields (and its relaionship to Passover) to a favorite melody that can be sung at Passover Seder tables around the country (the world, even!).  DEADLINE: Midnite PDT on Sunday, March 17.

“In every generation a person is obligated to see him or herself as though he/she had personally been redeemed from Eqypt”, we read in the Haggadah. In recalling our people’s experience in Egypt, we are urged to remember that we were once slaves. Though we may not be actual slaves ourselves today, our history moves us to ask “Where does slavery exist today?”, “Who is enslaved?” “What is that slavery like?”

Thousands of children in West Africa, often trafficked and without choice, work hard to bring us our favorite chocolate treats. They spend long hours, working in hazardous conditions, not going to school, and losing their childhoods.  Which is why we call cocoa “The Bean of Affliction“.

This Passover, may we tell their story and help free those children laboring in the cocoa fields!

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Panel of Judges
Background Information for Your Song
Sample Songs


We are only accepting contest entries online at our web site. Please read these rules and guidelines before you submit your entry.

  1. We invite new lyrics written in English to known melodies; all lyrics submitted must be original.
  2. Only one entry per contestant will be considered; each entry requires an entry form and lyric sheet; lyric sheets will not be returned.
  3. Please do not submit video files, audio files, or sheet music. Links to YouTube videos are welcome; “Unlisted” videos only, please.
  4. This competition is open to all amateur and professional songwriters and anyone regardless of nationality or origin. Employees of Fair Trade Judaica/Community Partners/Jewish Jumpstart, their families, subsidiaries and affiliates are not eligible.
  5. Winners will be selected by an expert panel of Jewish songwriters.
  6. Songs may have multiple co-writers, but an adult (over age 18) must be designated as the contestant. Prizes will be awarded jointly to all authors of any song; division of prizes is the responsibility of the winners.
  7. Each entry will be judged on its:
    • Creative merit
    • Singability
    • Educational content and link to Passover theme
    • Songs set to a Jewish melody will receive extra points
  8. Songs that are deemed offensive will be rejected.
  9. Contestant retains Copyright of their submission and grants Fair Trade Judaica, a project of Community Partners, a non-exclusive license to use the submission for no further compensation, including reproduction in all forms and all media now known or hereafter devised in perpetuity.  Contestant agrees to acknowledge that the lyrics were created for Fair Trade Judaica’s Passover Seder Song Lyrics Contest.
  10. Entries must be received by Midnite, Pacific Daylight Time, on Sunday, March 17, 2013. Winners will be announced on Thursday, March 21st and the winning songs will be made available for download on Fair Trade Judaica’s website.

Click here to submit your entry.


1st prize – $180 cash award

2nd prize – Choice of a set of 6 coasters with design of the 10 plagues OR a beaded matzah holder, made by Fair Trade artisans in South Africa

Panel of Judges

We are so honored to have these gifted Jewish musicians join us!

Michelle Citrin Michelle Citrin is a Brooklyn-based versatile singer/songwriter, whose original pop-folk songs are sung straight from her heart. She was named one of Billboard Music’s “Top Songwriters”, VH-1’s Song of the Year finalist, Great American Songwriting Honor, and finalist in Sony Music’s Future Rock Competition. Perhaps you recognize Michelle as the star of the hit YouTube sensations, “20 Things to do with Matzah” or “Rosh Hashanah Girl”, or from her other independent-label hits.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor Rabbi Menachem Creditor serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, CA. He is founder of ShefaNetwork: The Masorti/Conservative Movement Dreaming From Within, chair of Bay Area Masorti, international co-chair of Rabbis for Women of the Wall, and author of TheTisch, an electronic commentary on Jewish Spirituality. He identifies as a rabbi activist who has spent time working in Ghana with American Jewish World Service and the White House with the PICO Network to amplify the prophetic Jewish voice in the world. Rabbi Creditor sits on the Executive Council of Rabbinical Assembly and is a member of the Chancellor’s Rabbinic Leadership Team at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His fifth and most recent musical album is Within (2011, EKS Publishing).
Cantor Linda Hirschhorn Cantor Linda Hirschhorn has released two songbooks and eight recordings of original material, as well as founded and served as the primary composer for Vocolot. Her songs and choral arrangements have been published in major folk anthologies, are performed by professional and amateur groups around the world and have been used in video, radio documentaries and dance scores. In 1999, Linda was commissioned to compose works for “Seeds of Peace,” an international project that brings youth and national delegates from areas of conflict throughout the world into dialogue and creative collaboration. Linda has been Cantor at Temple Beth Sholom, San Leandro, CA since 1988, and was one of the founding members of Kehilla Community Synagogue in Berkeley.
Si Kahn Si Kahn is an accomplished author and musician who incorporates his passion for people’s rights and dignity into his songwriting, concert and festival performances, conference keynotes, workshops and residencies. In addition to his 16 CDs of original songs, he partnered with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp to record Carry It On (Flying Fish, 1982), a double album of traditional songs from the labor, civil rights and women’s movements.  Si is a co-founder of Bend the Arc; A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and a composer of songs about the Jewish experience in America. He also serves as Executive Director Emeritus of Grassroots Leadership, the Southern-based national organization he founded 30 years ago. Si performs regularly at festivals and conferences throughout North America and Europe. He is a member of Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO.
Steve Seskin Steve Seskin is one of the most successful songwriters in Nashville, who has written seven number one songs, including Grammy-nominated “Grown Men Don’t Cry,” recorded by Tim McGraw. His song, “Don’t Laugh at Me,” won the NSAI Song of the Year, was recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary, and became the impetus for the “Operation Respect/Don’t Laugh at Me Project”; the curriculum designed to teach tolerance in schools, has already been implemented in more than 20,000 schools across the country. He’s recorded 17 albums on his own record label. Steve says that “some of his favorite songs are those he’s written with the school-age kids he works with at his school songwriting workshops.” Seskin also teaches songwriting at San Francisco State University, Nashville Songwriters Association International, and through the Northern California Songwriters Association.
Craig Taubman Craig Taubman is a leading singer-songwriter in the Jewish community. His songs bridge traditional Jewish themes and ancient teachings with passages and experiences of contemporary Jewish life. Craig’s popular releases include the top selling Friday Night Live, composed for a special Shabbat service held once a month at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. The service, which attracts over 2000 people, was designed for young adults, ages 25-40, many of whom were estranged from the synagogue and even from Jewish life. Craig is also the producer of the popular Celebrate Series, a compilation CD project which collects some of the best Jewish music available on special theme-oriented recordings. Craig enjoys a successful career in television and film composing as well.

Background Information for Your Song

This contest was inspired by and is a part of our Bean of Affliction: Chocolate, Child Labor and Choosing Fair Trade Passover campaign. The gift of freedom our people received generations ago bestows upon us the obligation and responsibility to work for the liberation of all people. How can we fully celebrate our freedom without acknowledging millions of people today who are still forced to work, thousands of them young children who work in cocoa fields to bring us our delicious chocolate?

Here is specific information about the issue that may be useful in writing your lyrics:

Sample Songs to Inspire You!

Here are some examples of “zipper songs”, where new lyrics have been written to a familiar melody.

Mrs. Mattathias, words by Ben Aronin (to the tune of “O Chanukah, O Chanukah!”)

Each Chanukah we glorify brave Judah Maccabeus

Who had the courage to defy Antiochus and free us.

Yet, it is not fair that we should forget

Mrs. Maccabeus, whom we owe a debt.

She mixed it. She fixed it. She poured it into a bowl.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes

That gave brave Judah a soul.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes

That gave brave Judah a soul.

Now, this is how it came about, this gastronomic wonder

That broke the ranks of Syria like flaming bolts of thunder.

Mrs. Maccabeus wrote in the dough,

portions of the Torah and then fried them so.

They simmered. They shimmered, absorbing the olive oil.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes

That made the Syrians recoil.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes

That made the Syrians recoil.

The Syrians said, “It cannot be that old Mattathias

Whose years are more than eighty three, would dare to defy us.”

But they did not know his secret, you see

Mattathias dined on latkes and tea.

One latke, two latkes, and so on into the night.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes,

That gave them the courage to fight.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes,

That gave them the courage to fight.

And so each little latke, brown and delicious

Must have hit the spot, for with appetite viscous

All the heroes ate them after their toil

Causing in the Temple a shortage of oil.

One latke, two latkes, and so on into the night.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes,

that gave us the Chanukah light.

You may not guess, but it was the latkes,

that gave us the Chanukah light.

The Seder Plate Song, words by Rabbi Brian Field  (to the tune of “This Old Man”)

Chorus: For it’s Pesach now — how do we celebrate?

See what’s on our Seder plate.

Parsley green, number one, that’s ’cause springtime has begun.

Haroset – number two, sweet like freedom, good for you.

Maror is number three, bitter herb for slavery.

Shankbone is number four, lamb’s blood marking on the door.

Roasted egg, number five, it’s so good to be alive.

Orange takes up one more place, expanding who can share our space.

For it’s Pesach now — that’s how we celebrate, that’s what’s on our Seder plate.

Imagine You Have Healthcare, words by Charlie King  (to the tune of “Imagine”)

Imagine no insurance, no greedy middleman

No premium, no co-pay, a single payer plan

Imagine a long illness and you don’t lose your home.

(CHORUS) You may say that I’m a dreamer

I’m not dreaming by myself

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world can live in health.

Can you say “universal”? I wonder if you can,

Now try “comprehensive”… Does that sound like a plan?

It’s worked for years in Europe, Canada and Japan.