Passover Message from Steve Hoffman
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The boxes of matzah always seem to appear first on the kitchen shelf. Then the jars of gefilte fish and the new bottle of horseradish show up. Maybe a carton of fruit flavored jelly candy, never seen at other times of the year, finds a place in the cupboard. These are the real first signs of spring, the Passover supplies, as meaningful to me as the first crocuses that push up in the garden.
Many of us will be looking forward to a Seder with family and friends. We’ll recall memories of Seders past in childhood, think of relatives long gone, remember the first time we sang the Four Questions. We’ll tell stories.
In fact that’s the main theme of the Seder, to tell our children, ourselves, once again, our collective story as Jews – the moments of our national formation, liberation, freedom, and the return to our homeland. And we’ve been telling the story for thousands of years.
In every generation it’s common to relate the themes of Passover to contemporary issues – social justice, hunger drives, world events, family dynamics, political strife, or economic justice, to name just some.
This year I’m focused on the challenges of being a free people in our ancient homeland, and the price to be paid to be so. Israel’s right to exist is constantly being challenged subtly and directly by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; by the Palestinian Authority’s leadership; by various bodies of the United Nations that seek to delegitimize the Jewish State. We find ourselves as a Jewish people in the Diaspora and Israel in conflict with one another over policies of the Israeli government, of the United States government, and even in our own communal institutions.
Debate is food for the Jewish soul!
But let’s not allow the debate to overcome our fundamental commitments to each other as a people and of the need to preserve the Jewish State. Without it Jews could be wandering like the unwanted migrants in Europe. Instead today there is a home for every Jew.
The promise of the Exodus, the story told in our Seder, is being fulfilled every day.