Connect with us


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



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 easy methods to have fun probably the most communal of Jewish holidays whereas in isolation. The problem this 12 months, a wartime Passover, shall be easy methods to have fun it collectively.

At each Passover Seder, we ask, “Why is that this evening totally different from all different nights?” This 12 months, we should additionally confront the query, “Why is that this Seder totally different from all different Seders?” and the inescapable actuality that amongst our multitude there are totally different and clashing solutions about Israel and Gaza.

At Thanksgiving, my household sidestepped our divisions by declaring the desk an Israel-free zone. However that received’t work for Passover. The exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their arrival in Israel is the story. The concluding phrases of the Seder make the purpose, “L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim. Subsequent 12 months in Jerusalem.”

However that leaves the matter of what to do about this 12 months. At the same time as we give thanks for the liberation of the Jews from Egypt, we should take into account that 1,200 have been slaughtered on Oct. 7 and that others, who is aware of what number of are nonetheless alive, are being held hostage in Gaza. There are too many Seder tables with empty chairs. Giving thanks for liberation has to make approach for mourning those that are gone endlessly and for holding prime of thoughts those that should be introduced again.

There’s a frankly uncomfortable a part of the Passover Haggadah. “For not just one enemy has risen as much as destroy us,” this passage reads, “however in each technology do enemies stand up towards us, searching for to destroy us.” In atypical years, not less than for me, this has carried with it an anachronistic air of Jewish paranoia. This 12 months, not a lot.

American Jews must grapple with two simultaneous truths. In Israel, Hamas is searching for to destroy us. And sure, destroy us as Jews, not merely Israel. Simply learn their constitution. The continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state feels extra tenuous than at any time in my life.

In the meantime, in america, there may be the parallel truth of rising antisemitism. Jewish People of my technology as soon as thought our mother and father have been alarmist and out of contact with modernity after they emphasised this passage. However have been they? The Anti-Defamation League studies a 140 % enhance in antisemitic incidents in 2023, the best stage on file and greater than the earlier three years mixed.

Once more, that is linked to anti-Israel sentiment however ventures past opposition to Zionism to antisemitism pure and easy — “Kill the Jews” graffiti and Jewish college students being spat on. A lot as we would favor to consider in any other case, it’s now occurring right here.

Nonetheless, and right here we get to the clashing solutions half, this 12 months we should additionally acknowledge: There are too many lifeless civilians in Gaza, too many lifeless or injured kids, too many Gazans affected by homelessness and starvation. To be true to our moral compass as Jews, we’re additionally referred to as upon to bear in mind their struggling — and to mood our celebration accordingly.

Israel was brutally invaded on Oct. 7; it had the suitable and the responsibility to defend itself. Had Hamas not attacked, none of those horrible penalties would have ensued. Had Hamas not embedded itself inside, and beneath, 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 individuals.

However to say that doesn’t go far sufficient to acknowledge Israel’s accountability, particularly for its failure to facilitate the supply of meals and different humanitarian help to the civilian inhabitants. I perceive how tough it’s for Israelis to help offering this assist whereas the hostages endure, particularly due to the true danger of provides being diverted to Hamas. And but, this resistance feels essentially un-Jewish.

The Haggadah, because it occurs, suggests a greater approach. It opens with the phrases, “Let all who’re hungry, come and eat; all who’re needy, come and have fun the Passover with us.” All, not solely Jews.

God, we’re informed, visited 10 plagues on the Egyptians, from turning waters of the Nile into blood to the slaying of the firstborn. On the Seder, we dip a finger into the second cup of wine to symbolically spill a drop of blood as we recite each to mirror that our happiness can’t be full. The Egyptians, additionally God’s kids, suffered as nicely when the pharaoh hardened his coronary heart. Hamas, maybe, exists in each technology.

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

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *