Saturday, March 31, 2018

Public Thoughts To Be Read At The Passover Table

By Talia Carner

This Passover, as we celebrate our ancestors’ freedom from slavery, we reconnect through our most important holiday with our centuries-long traditions. It is incumbent upon us to contemplate the broader concept of freedom and what it means to us as individuals, as members of our immediate communities, and as members of the community of Jews across the globe.

Throughout history, Passover has also been a time of increased blood libels and pogroms against Jews. While Jews celebrated freedom and showed benevolence toward fellow humans, they were reminded how hated they were—hatred so strong that it “justified” killing them by the dozens, thousands, and millions. In these days, as a new wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping over the globe, gathering tsunami-like power, it lands right in Manhattan's UN building. The global Jew-hate fest from Venezuela to Spain—and renewed in Poland—has  metastasized into leading universities, mainstream media, civic organizations, and even Western governments. The tale of the Haggadah we read at the Seder stands to remind us that hate comes knocking on our door first with words, then with economic and academic boycotts, then with biased UN resolutions, and, as in the past, it may end with guns, bombs and incinerators.

Passover also marks spring in our ancient agrarian society, a beginning of a cycle of life, with the blooming of trees and the planting of vegetables and flowers. Spring’s fresh start and the tradition of inviting others to share our bounty at the Passover table reminds us of Israel’s extraordinary achievements in agriculture and science—efficiencies, discoveries and inventions she has shared for decades with over 120 countries to help nourish children, improve global food production, and wipe out starvation.

While these past seventy years Israelis—both civilians and soldiers—have given each Jew everywhere reasons to walk tall and proud, their existential threat from Iran is real.

“Every Jew should consider himself as if he was freed from slavery,” says the Haggadah we read tonight. In today’s climate we should add that “Every Jew should consider himself as if he’s just escaped a terrorist bomb.” There but for the grace of God and twist of history, we would not have been spared the wrath and bombs of Palestinians or extreme Muslim murderers taking shelter in our sacred freedom. Let’s give our prayers and charity to the families who have suffered unimaginable, senseless losses. And as we do, let us search within ourselves whether we have done all we could for them and for the Israeli soldiers who take the first bullet for us.

And while we’re at it, let’s remember our American soldiers on the forefront in the desserts of Iraq and Afghanistan—and the thousands of families who would never get to put their arms around them upon their return.

The tradition of Passover also calls us to invite to the Seder table any Jew who does not have one. Let’s invite—at least in our thoughts—all our Jewish brethren in countries that do not offer the freedom and protection that the USA guarantees us. For them, we can raise our collective voice with indignation and outrage and use our collective power to fight tyranny and fanaticism that calls for our—and their—demise.

Israel’s president Shimon Peres once said that even Ben-Gurion had not dreamed big enough. Let us dream big tonight—stretch our dream to encompass all the vast possibilities, and let us dream tonight of a world of peace.

Let us bless all the good things God has given us so far, and celebrate our resilience and our heritage of strong Jewish values that we have shared with the world over for centuries. And let's allow that dream bring joy to our hearts and to our Passover table.


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Author Talia Carner's novels are heart-wrenching suspense dealing with social issues. Please read the first chapter of each on her website at .

1 comment:

  1. On this Passover I choose to honor the many Palestinians murdered by Israeli soldiers. As a Jew I cannot and will not countenance Israel's oppression of a people who have lived on that land for a thousand years.