WISHING ALL OUR FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD A HAPPY AND HEALTHY PESACH, FROM IMPJ
Join us Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at 4:30 PM Israel time (9:30 AM on the U.S. East Coast; 11:30 PM in Australia; 2:30 PM in the U.K.), as Student-Rabbi Naomi Efrat of Kehilat Ha Lev (part of the Daniel Center for Progressive Judaism) will be conducting a virtual Seder in English hosted here on our Facebook Page, Reform Judaism in Israel!
“שָׁמוֹר֙ אֶת־חֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב וְעָשִׂ֣יתָ פֶּ֔סַח לַֽיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ כִּ֞י בְּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֗יב הוֹצִ֨יאֲךָ֜ יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם לָֽיְלָה”: (דברים, ט”ז; א)
“Keep the month of spring, and make the Passover offering to the Lord your G-d, for in the month of spring, the Lord, your G-d, brought you out of Egypt at night.” (Deuteronomy, 16; 1)
Each year, at the core of celebrating the holiday of Pesach, we are commanded to recall and retell the saga of our peoples’ Exodus from Egypt. It is auspiciously fitting that Pesach falls this week, as the world finds itself grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic. Here in Israel, shops and streets that would normally be bustling with activity in preparation for the holiday are empty and bare. On its surface, it may seem odd – to be preparing for such a celebratory holiday during a time of deep uncertainty and trepidation. However, there is a significant parallel between the Biblical story of Pesach and the times we find ourselves in today.
The night of Pesach, when we hold the Seder and recount the story of the Exodus, is a night that appears to focus on the past. It is, after all, an old story that recounts an event that took place thousands of years ago. But it is also an opportunity for perspective on the present and the future.
Matzah, the unleavened bread we eat each year at the Seder and throughout Pesach, has several names. The most common is “lechem oni” – the” bread of affliction” (Deuteronomy, 16; 3). This seems appropriate, as is says: “For in haste you went out of the land of Egypt, so that you shall remember the day when you went out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (Deuteronomy, 16; 1). There are two other translations, however: the “bread of healing” and the “bread of faith” (Zohar II, 41a. Ibid, 183b).
Healing and faith? These seem to be contrary to affliction, what we remind ourselves that we suffered of so long ago. On the contrary, these two seemingly out-of-place elements remind us that Pesach is not just about the past: it is about the past, the present and the future. We need healing right now – at present, the world is in a state of near upheaval, with no corner of the globe left untouched. We need faith right now – that the future will stabilize, for ourselves, for our children and for our children’s children.
This past Shabbat, we had two joint Kabbalot Shabbat between congregations in Israel and around the world: the first between the Sha’ar HaNegev congregation and the Reform congregations in San-Diego, California; and the second between Kehilat Brit Olam in Kiryat Ono and Temple Israel in Johannesburg, South Africa. Other congregations in Israel, such as Ramot Shalom in Be’er Shava, Kehilat Ramot Negev and Kehillat Tzur Hadassah, are holding joint sessions with their DOMIM partners abroad, for both adults and teens.
Now more than ever, it is vital that we stay connected to each other by whatever means are available to us. We send a prayer of Refuah Shelemah to communities around the world who are grappling with this pandemic and to all those who are in need of healing and comfort.
Wishing you all a Chag Pesach Sameach,
Keren b’Kavod, the Israeli Reform Movement’s Center for Social and Communal Activity, continues to assist disadvantaged populations in Israel, including new Olim, immigrants from the Ethiopian community, the elderly, lone soldiers and deprived women.
The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism
13 King David Street
Jerusalem, Israel, 94101