Pesach is coming

Pesach is coming

Why is this year different from all other years?

Because on all other years, for those of us lucky enough to be born into loving, comfortable families in the United States after the end of World War II, entering the minds of the Israelites as they left Egypt, or the rabbis as they talked about it millennia later, was a purely imaginative exercise.

This year, not so much.

I don’t want to overstate — that’s a cheap and easy rhetorical danger. We’re still safe and comfortable here. This is not Weimar Germany or Vichy France, with evil leering at us just a few years away. North American and Israeli Jews still are living in arguably the best time and place a Jewish community ever has created or found.

But things are changing.

Iran is shooting drones and missiles at Israel — the same drones and missiles that the Russians are shooting at Ukraine. Israel is incredibly lucky in its defenses, its brains, and its allies — Ukraine isn’t nearly as lucky — but the combination of the pure barbaric evil of October 7, still fresh in our minds, and the destruction falling from the sky are signs of very real danger.

The world order was securely in place since the end of World War II, but it’s shifting now. Democracy is at risk. Autocracy is on the rise.

And to go from the abstract to the specific, the hostages — if they are still alive, if any of them are still alive — still are in captivity. They need freedom.

We will sit at our seder tables in a few days, and we will try to figure out how to combine all these truths — the pain and the hatred and the antisemitism, the barbarism and the starvation, the deaths of so very many firstborn — with the truth of the green springtime, and the family and friends gathered around the table, whose presence can give us even more love and strength than we had before. With the truth of the wine and the food, the eggs and the saltwater and the crumbs. With the truth of the physical reality in front of us, the physical reality of the demolished kibbutzim and empty Shabbat tables in Israel, and the need for hope as we continue to move forward.

Because another truth is that the only way to go is forward, and we will do it together.

We wish all our readers a ziessen Pesach, and the hope that we can overcome grief with the possibility of joy.


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