Opinion | This Seder feels very different. Can Jews come together at Passover?


The problem for our pandemic Passover Seder 4 years in the past was tips on how to rejoice probably the most communal of Jewish holidays whereas dwelling in isolation. The problem this yr, a wartime Passover, can be tips on how to rejoice it collectively.

At every Passover Seder, we ask, “Why is that this evening totally different from all different nights?” This yr, we should additionally grapple with the query, “Why is that this Seder totally different from all different Seder?” And the inevitable actuality is that there are totally different and conflicting solutions about Israel and Gaza amongst our crowd.

At Thanksgiving, my household circumvented our divide by declaring the desk an Israel-free zone. However that gained't work for Passover. The exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their arrival in Israel Is Story. The Seder's remaining phrases make this clear, “L'Shanah Haba'ah B'Yerushalayim. Subsequent yr in Jerusalem.”

However that misses the purpose of what to do that yr. Whilst we give thanks for the liberation of the Jews from Egypt, we should take into account that 1,200 have been murdered on October 7 and others, who is aware of what number of, are nonetheless alive. Is being held hostage in Gaza. There are many Seder tables with empty chairs. To offer thanks for salvation is to make solution to mourn those that are gone eternally and to be aware of those that should still be introduced again.

There’s an apparently incontrovertible a part of the Passover Haggadah. “For not solely has an enemy risen as much as destroy us,” this passage reads, “however in each era the enemy has risen up in opposition to us looking for to destroy us.” In regular years, at the least for me, this might have introduced with it an anachronistic air of Jewish paranoia. This yr, not a lot.

American Jews should grapple with two realities concurrently. In Israel, Hamas desires to destroy us. And sure, destroy us as Jews, not simply Israel. Now! read their charter, The continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state appears harder than at any time in my life.

In the meantime, in the US, there’s a parallel phenomenon of rising anti-Semitism. Jewish Individuals of my era as soon as thought our dad and mom have been chauvinistic and out of contact with modernity once they emphasised this passage. However have been they? anti defamation league reports A 140 p.c enhance in anti-Semitic incidents in 2023, the best stage on file and better than within the earlier three years.

Once more, that is linked to anti-Israel sentiment, however goes past anti-Zionism to pure and easy anti-Semitism – “Kill the Jews” graffiti and Jewish college students being spat upon. Despite the fact that we might like to consider in any other case, it's occurring right here now.

But, and right here we get to the half with conflicting solutions, this yr we should additionally acknowledge: there are too many useless civilians in Gaza, too many useless or injured youngsters, too many Gazans affected by homelessness and starvation. To be true to our ethical compass as Jews, we’re additionally known as to bear in mind their struggling and mood our celebration accordingly.

Israel was brutally attacked on October 7; He had the correct and obligation to guard himself. If Hamas had not attacked, such a horrible consequence wouldn’t have occurred. If Hamas had not embedded itself inside and under the civilian inhabitants, many of those deaths wouldn’t have occurred; Hamas is the one combatant within the historical past of city warfare whose technique is to maximise the deaths of its personal folks.

However saying this isn’t sufficient to acknowledge Israel's duty, particularly for its failure to supply meals and different humanitarian help to the civilian inhabitants. I perceive how troublesome it’s for the Israelis to supply this help whereas the hostages are struggling, particularly due to the true danger of provides being despatched to Hamas. And but, this resistance appears basically Gentile.

The Haggadah, because it occurs, suggests a greater approach. It begins with the phrases, “All who’re hungry, come and eat; “Whoever is in want, come and rejoice Passover with us.” Everybody, not simply the Jews.

We’re advised that God introduced 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, from turning the waters of the Nile into blood to killing the firstborn. On the Seder, we dip a finger into one other cup of wine to symbolically spill a drop of blood and we recite each to mirror that our happiness can’t be full. When Pharaoh hardened his coronary heart, the Egyptians, who have been additionally God's youngsters, needed to endure. Hamas, maybe, exists in each era.

As Jews, we should open our hearts to the struggling of all. We must always mourn each loss of life. And that, God prepared, would be the message of our Passover Seder on which we will all agree earlier than digging into gefilte fish and brisket.


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