Welcoming Elijah in the Age of Guns and Newtown

Open-Door Spirit of Passover Threatened by Suspicion Culture

After Sandy Hook: Schools are increasingly locking their doors.
Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images
After Sandy Hook: Schools are increasingly locking their doors.

By Lenore Skenazy

Published March 19, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

For many years — centuries —Passover was the scariest time of the year for Jews because it more or less coincides with Easter. “That’s the time when people would do their Passion plays,” writer and rabbi Abby Sosland said. Those gruesome re-enactments of the Crucifixion did not exactly enhance Christian-Jewish relations, and Sosland said, “There were often pogroms” in their wake.

To make matters worse, the “blood libel” accusation reared its head at Passover, too: the claim that Jews killed Christian babies to use their blood in making matzo.

And yet, what does the Haggadah command us to do at that peak time of terror?

Open the door.

Not once, but twice. First we’re supposed to “Let all who are hungry come and eat” — yup, invite random strangers right into our home. And then, toward the end of the night, we are told to open the door, literally, for Elijah. In fact, the new Bronfman Haggadah puts the Elijah instructions at the beginning, encouraging us to fling that door ASAP.

You’ve got to be pretty brave or pious — or both — to open your home like that. But think of the message it sends everyone at the table: We believe in God, we believe most people are good. And if somehow something bad happens, we even believe we can deal with it. That’s the kind of spirit that keeps a people strong and open.

And it’s just that spirit that I see evaporating today, particularly in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

It may seem like a leap, but the Passover idea of an open-door policy makes me think of just how shuddering and superstitious we’ve become. Across America (and beyond), parents, principals and politicians are demanding that doors be locked, guards be posted and friendly faces be treated as enemies. It’s an outlook that’s not just paranoid, but also corrosive. How so?

Well, let’s take a look at the post-Sandy Hook security measures some schools have put in place. (I asked readers to send these to my blog, freerangekids.com.)


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.