Passover: A Hope For Freedom

The Passover Festival, which lasts seven days – eight days outside the Land of Israel – is known as a “Time Of Our Freedom.” The Passover Seder, on the first night of Passover, is a very special meal. What Jewish grownup today does not conflate their Jewish heritage with memories of their family sitting at the seder table, reading from the Haggadah, talking, laughing, and of course eating. The joyful rituals of the Passover Seder are meant to celebrate our freedom…freedom from slavery and tyranny.


I could not, with complete honesty and compassion, wish my friends and family a happy holiday this year. Not while Israel is at war, and so many soldiers are away from their families. Not while more than a hundred of our tribe are being held hostage, including a little boy who just had his first birthday while in captivity somewhere in Gaza. We can only be truly free when everyone is free.

When we made our Exodus from Egypt, we all left together as one nation. We left no one behind.

Fast forward to today. We did not leave the hostages behind. They were with us at every seder table throughout the land. Some people talked about it. Some made special blessings for the hostages and their families. Where I joined a Passover Seder, the soldiers and the hostages were mentioned many times.

My Passover Adventure –

This is how I know we will not lose this war. We may not win it, but we will not lose it. This is how I know.

As I may have said in an earlier post, I’ve been staying at an airbnb in Pardes Hannah. On Thursday of last week, I noticed a synagogue nearby. When I went nearer to the synagogue, I saw a few boys on motorcycles playing around. A couple of the boys invited me to the synogague. So Friday night I went.

The synagogue was actually a bomb shelter that had been transformed into a synagogue. Not many men were there on Friday night, but more than enough for a minyan. The rabbi of the synagogue, it turns out, is a fourteen-year-old young man. After the Friday night service, he and I became instant friends.

Hostages Still In Gaza

That was four days ago. Now, four days later, I am already like an established member of the congregation.

On Sunday night, I was introduced to an older rabbi who lives a little farther away. Rav Yoav invited me to his Passover Seder before he knew anything about me.

So, on Monday evening, I walked to Rav Yoav’s house. He has his own synagogue next to his house. I arrived just in time for the evening prayers. After the evening service, I was directed to a large hall filled with tables and plastic chairs. About 30 women were already seated at their tables. I joined a table where other men from the evening service also sat.
The room was filled with a variety of people. There were some who, I believe, identified with the LGBTQ community. There were others who wore the signature uniform of the hareidim (ultra orthodox), which is black trousers, white shirt, black coat, black hat. There were some who identified as Ashkenazi Jews, others who embraced their Moroccan heritage, and still others who could best be described as Afro-Israeli.

After going quickly through the Haggadah, and the meal, and after many had already left, I went to the rabbi’s table to hear the discussion. Of course they were discussing Torah, but there were also breaks where they would discuss other issues.

The rabbi wanted to know more about me. After I told my story about coming to Israel (alone) to do volunteer work, the rabbi made a point of saying, “Now you have family in Israel. This is your family, right here.

That was my take from these last few days. This is how I know we won’t lose this war. We may not win it . . we may not achieve all our goals . . but we will not lose this war. Every soldier and every citizen is part of the whole family of Israel. If the community saw to it that I had someplace to go for the seder, you can be sure they will show the same or more concern for every visitor, every neighbor, every soldier, and every single person that has been taken hostage.

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