YDAJC Passover Message

April 12, 2006 at 11:17 am | Posted in Announcements | Leave a comment

Passover is the most widely celebrated Jewish Holiday. Jews on Passover commemorate the Exodus from Egypt, not as simply a memory, but as if every individual had been a slave and was freed.

For the eight-day holiday, Jews refrain from eating any product that contains grain (except for Matzah).

The Seder, the Passover feast, is the longest-running political discussion in the world. For over 2,500 years, Jews have celebrated Passover by thinking about how the historical story offers insight into contemporary issues. By not eating bread on Passover, we are subtly recognizing that the world is not free, and that we do not always have choices. By remembering the Exodus from Egypt and the many steps that individuals took to bring about freedom, we recognize that we are all part of the struggle.

Passover is also a focal time for social justice issues for Jews. During the Seder we are called upon to recognize issues of hunger, slavery, oppression, and inequality in both history and in modern society.



Jews invite all who are hungry to come and join in the feast. This tradition is taken both literally and metaphorically. Those who can make it to the Seder table are universally invited to do so. But, as Jews, we are still obliged to help feed those who cannot attend. 38 Million Americans and Billions worldwide are wanting for food. We hope that, in recognition of this custom, you will consider a donation to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger (http://www.mazon.org/).



Many Seders this year will consider the issue of slavery in both ancient and modern contexts. As we celebrate the deliverance from slavery in Egypt, we think about those who remain slaves today. Human trafficking is a particularly horrible practice that we have an obligation to fight. Similarly, we look to repressive regimes and consider how we can assist those people fighting to be free.



Many groups in our society lack the rights that we all profess. During Passover, we think about the struggle for civil rights. The lessons of Passover engaged many Jews in the American Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Today, those same lessons of freedom and equality encourage us to consider LGBT rights. Shifra and Pu’ah, two characters from the Exodus story, conduct the first non-violent civil disobedience recorded in history when they refuse to kill Hebrew babies. The story has been used since Roman times to begin struggles against oppression. We are compelled to do the same for the issues that challenge our day.



The Exodus story also teaches us that nobody is quintessentially better than anyone else. Pharaoh’s son is also killed in the 10th plague, and women, traditionally ignored in the Bible, are central to the Exodus story. In fact, the heros of the story are entirely unexpected. Moses, for instance, is a humble man with a speech impediment. One lesson out of this is that our abilities and fates should not be defined from our beginnings. We are reminded repeatedly to seek economic justice. This year, many Seders are also focusing on issues like the minimum wage, or women’s economic equality.



Passover runs from this evening (April 12) through April 19th, 2006.


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