Passover, "Les Mis" Style
“Les Miserables” is an epic tale of suffering, oppression, and one man’s quest to find himself. Is it just me, or have we heard that story before?
No, sadly, Victor Hugo was not a secret Jew. But Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, who wrote the lyrics of the famous musical, are. Schönberg was born in Vannes, France, the son of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, in 1944. Boublil, a Sephardic Jew, was born in Tunisia in 1941.
So perhaps it’s fair to say they picked up the similarities between Jean Valjean, a ex-convict on the run from the law who seeks to reinvent himself once he hears God’s call, and Moses — not to mention the living conditions for the poor in 19th century France, akin to Egyptian slavery.
The Maccabeats —the all-male a cappella group out of Yeshiva University — took notice of the parallels and the opportunity was too good to pass up. From “Look Down” to “Do You Hear The People Sing,” it’s a sight to behold.
"This holiday we take for ourselves, no longer silent servers behind the curtain, but singers of the seder, with voices of gladness, creating our own convocation, and leaving ‘The Narrow Place’ together."— E.M. Broner
"The idea of opening the door is that we hope Elijah might actually be there this year – that we might actually have done enough to change the world to have had him arrive. And, if we don’t have even the tiniest bit in us that thinks he might be there, that thinks we have tried our hardest to bring around a messianic time, with no hunger, no war, no conflict, no pain – if we don’t believe that we have tried to end those broken parts in the world – well, then I tell my students – don’t do any of it."— Rabbi Leora Kaye
"The whole seder, for me, is the tension between two statements: We say, 'We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and now we’re free,' but before that, we pick up the matzoh, we invite the hungry in and we say, 'This year we are slaves, next year may we be free.' We are the most fortunate, liberated Jews in history. But on the other hand, there are lots of things that enslave us."— Rabbi Arthur Green