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Looking Forward

This week we put Purim in the rear-view mirror and set our sights on Passover. Indeed, as Jews we know that it is important to look back but we must find a way to look ahead as well. Just as we needed Purim, this story of an inspiring queen who spoke truth to power and defended her community, so do we need Passover, a holiday that has us celebrate the fact that we are free and thus free to use our time and resources for building a more complete world. If Esther is loud, inspiring and full of conviction, Moses is soft-spoken, humble and unassuming. If Purim is about feasts and celebrations, Passover is about introspection, tradition and gratitude. Purim is raucous and upbeat; Passover is built around the time-honored orderliness of the seder and long-defined ritual.

This year Passover of course will take on new meaning. As I write these words, over 100 of our brothers and sisters continue to be held against their will in Gaza. The hostages are young and old, male and female, of varying nationalities and religious backgrounds. They are not free. They are bound up in a saga that began October 7 and has pulled at our heart ever since. We pray for their release. We pray for their wellbeing. 

We acknowledge too the many – on both sides of the border – whose lives have been made hard since that fateful day. So much suffering. So much pain. Such loss of life.

In spite of it all, this is an auspicious season for various faith traditions. While we look ahead to Passover with hope, millions of Christians will mark the holy day of Easter this Sunday. Our Muslim friends are in the midst of Ramadan. Three Abrahamic traditions, three cousins, each with a stake in the holy land, with so much in common and yet we feel the many divisions between us as much as ever. We are so alike. Our stories are so similar. We all trace our roots back to the land of Israel. Our bibles draw on one another. Our heroes overlap. Our values are so very much alike. And yet, such pain abounds.

A few thoughts: 

One, consider inviting non-Jewish friends to your seder this year. Let them see and learn about our story. Help build connection in this time of division.

Two, consider how to include the war in Gaza in your seder this year. Think about honoring the fallen. Think about how you might ensure that the realities in Israel remain front and center in your life and the lives of your family. Maybe place an empty chair at the seder table to acknowledge the many who will not be able to celebrate this year. 

Three, consider joining our Sisterhood at our annual Interfaith program and luncheon. This will be an opportunity to hear points of view different than our own, sit with neighbors of other religions and come away with new perspective. We’d love to see you there on the morning of April 17. 

As Passover is meant to bring joy, let us remember that life is fundamentally good and we have so much to be thankful for in our own lives. To be a part of this people is a blessing. Let’s remember that and keep going.