Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Passover and Social Justice Judaism

The St. Lou Jew would like to wish everyone out there a fantastic Pesach. We hope that it is filled with family and friends. Once we were slaves, now we are free.

Passover is certainly one of the most experiential holidays. Every piece of the meal is symbolic and sensuous. From the bitter herbs dipped in salt water, to the Matzah which only those outside the Tribe seem not to despise, this holiday is truly meant to be lived every year as if the experience were fresh in our minds. This reliving and renewing is also deeply tied to the timing of the holiday. Despite the snow storm in St. Louis a few nights ago, the weather has finally been breaking, and Spring seems to have arrived.

That life itself is renewed at this time of year is not lost in the meaning of Passover.

The holiday is a celebration of life, and even as our cup of joy (aka wine) is lessened for each plague visited upon the Egyptians, we focus on the joy, the meaning, and the responsibility of being free.

For each of us who have been blessed with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to pursue the path of our choosing, there are many around the world to whom these freedoms are still out of reach.

In a world in which many Jews associate so strongly with the social justice message of Judaism, Pesach is the central holiday.

Our responsibility to each other, to share our good fortunes is embodied in the Hagaddah (literally, the telling) liturgy. This, perhaps, is the core of the core of the American Jew-ish identity:

This is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry, let them enter and eat. All who are in need, let them come celebrate Pesah. Now we are here; next year in the land of Israel. Now we are enslaved; next year we will be free.

1 comment:

M-teen said...

Fo sho. We should be reminded of how lucky we are to be a free people in a free nation. We should also take this time to think of our brothers and sisters all over the world who struggle for freedom. I love the symbolism of passover and I hope people every where - not just jews - will take a moment to remember what we have.