2016-04-13 / Editorial

Celebrating redemption from slavery carries an ancient mandate to new generations


In Jewish homes in South Jersey and throughout the world, Passover preparations are well underway. It makes sense that the oldest continuously observed holiday in the world should require more planning than most celebrations. After all, Seder plates and Haggadahs must come out of storage. Chametz, or leavened bread, is to be purged from pantries. New recipes for kugel are considered. And children, particularly the youngest in families, have limited time left to perfect the Four Questions for their spotlight performances.

It is also no coincidence that the holiday observed by more Jews than any other takes place in the home. It’s in gatherings of multiple generations of families and friends in the comfort of dining rooms that traditions are passed down and Jewish identities forged. The Seder itself is based on the verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” The Passover story is not just a story of the past; it is a blueprint for the present and future.

The mandate is to pass down proud traditions to our children, and the message conveyed is that freedom comes with responsibility. The Haggadah teaches us, and the message of Passover makes clear, that once we were slaves and now we are free. God gave us our freedom. It is up to us to use it wisely. In modern times, as American Jews in a relatively affluent community, there are multiple ways to pay it forward. We have responsibility towards those in our community who are struggling, to Jews and other people worldwide still trying to escape tyranny, and to Israel, which needs strong advocates in these troubled times.

May you, your loved ones, and the entire Jewish people have a sweet and joyous Passover. .

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