Passover, the festival of freedom that begins this coming week, is not the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, but it’s arguably the best-loved. Its powerful tale of liberation from Egyptian slavery, the oldest freedom struggle on record, is traditionally cited as the formative event in Jewish history. Over the ages it has served to inspire countless other struggles around the world.
If American Jews show a special affection for the holiday — researchers says it’s America’s most widely observed Jewish holiday — that’s partly because it speaks so simply and directly to so many different sensibilities. Some see it as a literal call to stand with the downtrodden of every race and creed. Others take it as a reminder to fight for the rights of Jews, whenever and wherever they’re threatened. Still others view it as a metaphorical call for spiritual liberation from within.
These days, the various interpretations seem sharply at odds, even mutually exclusive. We need to remind ourselves that they all have deep roots in tradition. More important, they’re all necessary and on target right now.
The Forward wishes its readers a joyous holiday season.