2018-03-28 / Editorial

The Passover story of freedom continues to guide our actions

Thousands of years after our ancestors escaped Egypt, we recall the bitterness of slavery at the Seder table, using the experience as a guide for how we engage in the world.

“This year we are slaves,” we read. “Next year, may we all be free.” Jews are commanded to be directly present in the Passover story. Having a personal connection to the Exodus is a reminder of the dual nature of the holiday. Yes, it is celebratory; but it is also a call to action. The Haggadah teaches us, and the message of Passover makes clear, that God gave us our freedom. It is up to us to use it wisely.

How do we use our freedom wisely? The beauty of the holiday, and perhaps why Passover has resonated throughout the ages, is that the Haggadah inspires a large variety of interpretations. Some families may relate the Pesach story to concerns about the recent rise in hate crimes against Jews and other minorities, while others may recall the vast number of people experiencing food insecurity locally and worldwide. For others, the Haggadah may spark conversations about refugees, immigration crackdowns, or the burgeoning student movement to make schools safer.

If how the Pesach story propels us to action is open to interpretation, the commandment to pass these stories down is not. It is primarily through the family that Jewish tradition is transferred from one generation to the next. Parents are instructed to teach their children about the Exodus and everything God did, and continues to do, for us as individuals, families, and as a people.

So on the one hand, we are commanded to continue telling the story each year. On the other, as free people, it is up to us to relate this ancient story to our time and figure out the lessons we take with us on our quest to repair the world.

Wishing a Chag Pesach Sameach, a happy Passover, to the entire Jewish family. 

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