Wednesday evening, April 12, Jews all around the world will sit down together to celebrate the Seder, the annual re-enactment of their ancestors’ Exodus from Egypt. If the past is any guide, millions upon millions will gather around the table with friends and family to tell stories, sing songs, struggle with bits of Hebrew text and savor, if only for an evening, the warmth of their heritage.
As we’ve noted in the past, Passover is the single most widely observed holiday on the Jewish calendar, because of its unique combination of family intimacy and soaring social message. It’s a holiday that each of us can create and re-create for ourselves, finding new lessons every year.
This year, the lessons are hard to miss. We’ll be starting off Wednesday evening by holding up a slice of matzo, “the bread of affliction,” and reciting the ancient words, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” We’ll dig in soon after for a memorable feast. We’ll know, of course, that those who need it most won’t be able to join us. They’ll be off in far corners of the world, wasting away for lack of bread. The wise among us will take a moment to ask what these signs and portents mean to us.
This was also a year of another historic Israeli exodus. In leaving Gaza, Israel was fleeing not from the burden of slavery but from its opposite, mastery. But as we’re coming to learn, each is its own form of oppression.