As we prepare to celebrate Passover, commemorating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, it is even more meaningful to me this year in light of the Ukrainians’ fight for freedom.
I have been to all kinds of seders throughout my life. They range from restaurant settings with participants from different religions, to synagogues with the congregation, to homes where the seder can last from two hours to over six hours and way beyond midnight.
But the setting isn’t that important. What’s most meaningful to me on Passover is the seder itself, the songs, prayers, readings and sharing with others at the table.
What most strikes me at this time is the word “freedom,” especially in light of what is happening in Ukraine, where “David” is fighting “Goliath.” Ukrainians believe in their country and will defend it to the end – something Jews are very familiar with.
As of 2021, the Jewish population was estimated at 15.2 million, or 0.19% of the 7.89 billion population worldwide. Yet we have survived and thrived. Much of this is due to our determination, belief and faith.
In an article in the Jerusalem Post in 2020, “A comparison of Exodus from Egypt to ‘Exodus from Europe,’ ” Gol Kalev writes, “While Moses’s Judaism has indeed developed since, its primary ethos remains the Exodus from Egypt. It is the first of the Ten Commandments and reflected through the spectrum of Jewish religious life.
“The Exodus’s core essence is recited daily: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God’. The centrality of the Exodus is also demonstrated through the holiday of Passover.”
Passover celebrates freedom, resilience and faith against all odds, all of which is exemplified in Ukraine now.
In the article “Ukraine, The Escape Road Not Taken,” posted at aish.com, Sara Yoheved Rigler states it well: “Throughout Jewish history, there has been a fine, hard-to-determine line between danger and doom. Denying a frightening reality is a basic human response – whether it’s a terminal diagnosis, an unfaithful spouse, or an imminent war.
“The drive to optimism, that it will all work out, can serve as a noble force that keeps us on our feet when we would otherwise be writhing on the floor in despair …. The Jews of the Ukraine held onto such hope rather than walking away from their homes, communities, and way of life.”
This year, Passover is closer to home than it has ever been!
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence. She is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award.