Like most of you I have been to more than a few seders in my time, and each year I find myself asking: How will this seder renew my connection to Jewish values and thereby inspire my actions in the coming year?
On Passover, we are collectively reminded of our connection to history and our shared experience as a people. And, every year we have an opportunity to tell our story and use it to inform our understanding of modern day afflictions. This is where renewed connections are made for me.
I am fortunate to have this platform to share my thoughts with you each week about how Jewish values and our shared experiences as a people inform communal actions in the public square. As we sit at our Passover seder tables, we all have a platform to share key lessons. I invite you to join me in using Passover as an opportunity to share your thoughts: What value or theme do I most identify with, right now, from the Haggadah?
For you it may be that freedom from oppression comes with responsibility to community, and thus we teach our children that volunteering is part of a Jewish practice. Or, you may choose to underscore our dreams and aspirations – carried through thousands of years of waiting – for a place again in the Jewish homeland, and how awesome and fragile our Jewish state is today. And, you may wish to share that because we as a people remember what it is like to be the excluded stranger we work for policies of inclusion and equity.
As you immerse yourself in the story, I hope you will embrace – and even lead – conversations about the parallels between the Exodus experience and today’s challenges; to note, after reciting the ten plagues, those modern day afflictions that plague our world – people who are not free, those who are wandering as refugees and who need our compassion. Or, to discuss how a deeply divided people would have been less likely to survive 40 years of wandering in the Sinai. Take time to wonder aloud about what have we learned after all these years and in all these generations, and ask: How can I use these lessons to make a difference?
After all, the seder certainly teaches us that it is crucial to ask challenging questions – ones without easy or obvious answers.
Passover reminds us of the importance of not only sharing our stories and asking questions, but of taking action to bring about redemption and liberation in our own time. As we break our matzah we are reminded that our ancestors did not wait for conditions to be ideal before taking action, and neither should we.
As you prepare for your seder, I hope you ask yourself: What do I need to do to make a difference today? Please take a moment to make a commitment to our collective work – to supporting volunteerism in our Greater Boston community; to advancing inclusion, equality, and safety net services; and, to advocating for a secure and democratic Jewish state.
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