This Passover, I have a lot to pray for


Passover, which will arrive in late April this year, hasn’t been normal since 2019.

First came the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, followed by the improved, but cautious, year of 2022.

Although the pandemic was a fading memory by last Passover, the sharp rise in antisemitism cast a pall over the holiday.

This year, as I look forward to celebrating Pesach and eating matzah and the other festive foods again (albeit gingerly, due to some dental work), it appears that the theme of the 2024 holiday will be one of tsuris, heartache and fear due to the serious challenges that we’re facing, both home and abroad.

That’s why I thought it’d be appropriate to mention several things that I’ll be praying for leading up to Passover – which is still my favorite Jewish holiday because of the treasure-trove of family memories that the holiday conjures up.

As Passover approaches, I’ll pray for:

A long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that leads to a permanent truce and lasting peace in Israel and the Middle East

The extent of the destruction in Gaza, which followed Hamas’ brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, should give all peace-loving American and Israeli Jews reason to pause.

The civilian casualties in Gaza have been especially shocking and frightening, and any attempt to rationalize the carnage by using the biblical “eye for an eye” argument seems way out of line.

In addition, the devastating humanitarian toll on the vast majority of people living in Gaza, who are badly in need of food and medical supplies, is needlessly punishing the innocent. All of that – including the women and children who have been killed or horribly maimed in both Gaza and Israel since the war began – should be ample reason for Jews to pray for an end to all hostilities.

The hard truth is that what’s been happening in Gaza is only going to make it easier to hate Jews now and for decades to come, which brings me to my next prayer, for:

A reduction in, if not the outright eradication of, antisemitism in the region, country and world. That includes the alarming rise in antisemitism on campuses at U.S. colleges, where far too many students are living in fear.

Although antisemitism had been sharply increasing in the last couple of years, according to the Anti-Defamation League and other sources, it has skyrocketed out of control since the Oct. 7 attack and Israel’s response. The war has, unfortunately, enabled the haters to intensify their hatred of Jews.

I’ll pray for an end to the disdain and contempt for all minorities, and for those with opposing political viewpoints, that has been poisoning our national discourse. Intolerance, anger and irrational hatred have sadly replaced compassion, compromise and any desire or willingness to work together – and that doesn’t bode well for the future of the United States.

I’ll pray that the leaders of both major political parties put the national interest ahead of partisan politics, and get serious about tackling the immigration issues that have plagued us for decades. In late February, a bipartisan immigration agreement was reached in the U.S. Senate, before it fell apart when most GOP members in both houses of Congress decided to put their prospects of winning in November ahead of passing legislation to improve the border situation. Which leads to my next prayer:

That politicians and far too many Americans will stop demonizing immigrants, who have historically had a positive impact on the American economy since the nation’s founding.

Smearing all immigrants as evil and making them the scapegoats for what’s wrong with the country is not only inaccurate, but it’s also disingenuous and plays into all of the stereotypes used to foment hatred. Plus, it ignores the history of the United States as a haven for immigrants, which we all were at some point.

This prayer is especially fitting for Passover, which relates the story of the Israelites, who were immigrants in Egypt, as they fled slavery there to form a new nation.

I’ll pray that the more than two-year-old war in Ukraine will come to an end, and that America’s leaders will unite behind the need to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to take over that country

Finally, I pray that all of you have a very healthy and enjoyable Passover with your relatives and friends.

LARRY KESSLER ( is a freelance writer based in North Attleboro. He blogs at