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Community Conversations - 4/22/24 - No Call in Observance of Passover

  • 1.  Community Conversations - 4/22/24 - No Call in Observance of Passover

    Posted 04-18-2024 11:59 AM

    There will not be a Community Conversations call this upcoming Monday, April 22nd in observance of Passover. As we aim to foster an environment of inclusivity for our fellow colleagues from various backgrounds, you can learn more about the Passover holiday with these excerpts below from The Peninsula Jewish Community Center.

    And as a reminder, to prepare for our next call on May 6th (there is no call on April 29th), you will need to re-register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom with the new link, which you can add to your calendar:

    The Story of Passover
    Passover, or Pesach (pronounced PAY-sokh) in Hebrew, commemorates the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt and their ultimate exodus to freedom. This story of redemption from slavery is the "master story" of the Jewish people that has shaped its values of religious freedom, caring for the stranger, and standing up to oppressive tyrants.

    The story harks back 3,400 years to the family of Jacob, who fled their home in Canaan, or ancient Israel, in the face of a terrible famine. They made their way to Egypt where they were welcomed and grew in population and in acceptance. But when a new pharaoh came to power in Egypt, he feared the growing Israelite population and enslaved them, oppression that continued for the next 210 years.

    Moses, an Israelite baby who survived Pharoah's decree of Jewish infanticide and ended up growing up "half-Egyptian" in the palace itself, heard God's call at a burning bush out in the desert to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He negotiated with Pharaoh for the Israelite's freedom. This led to a famous show-down between God, who demanded freedom for the Israelites, and Pharaoh, who symbolized the hard-hearted forces of tyranny and enslavement. God breaks Pharaoh's spirit by inflicting Egypt with ten plagues.

    During the night of the final plague, God "passed over" and protected the houses of the Israelites, giving the festival its name. Finally, with the Egyptian army chasing after them, God (symbolized by Moses' outstretched arm) split the waters of the Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross the sea on dry land and escape. Since they ran out of Egypt in a hurry, the Israelite slaves did not have time for their plain bread to leaven and rise, giving Passover its most famous symbol, matzah, which is Hebrew for "unleavened bread."

    How Passover Is Celebrated… And Why
    The central ritual of Pesach is the Seder (SAY-der), a carefully choreographed ritual meal that takes place on the eve of Passover at home with family and friends or with the community. It is both a sumptuous feast as well as an educational experience for children and adults alike. The Seder begins by reading the Haggadah (Ha-ga-DAH), a 2000-year-old book which retells the story of the Exodus from Egypt in detail. Children sing "The Four Questions" (Mah Nishtanah in Hebrew) which introduce the telling of the story.

    An essential part of the Seder is eating ritual foods symbolic of the journey from slavery to freedom:

    • Wine (four cups): symbols of joy
    • Bitter herbs: reminding us of the suffering of slavery
    • Green leafy vegetables: representing the growth of spring and the continuation of the Jewish people
    • Matzah {a thin, crisp unleavened bread): which is both the poor bread of slaves and the symbol of our freedom.

    The Haggadah instructs that "each person is to experience the exodus from Egypt personally, as if we ourselves have been freed from Egypt." The Hebrew word for "Egypt" literally means "the narrow, constricted place."

    The Relevance of Passover Today

    The story of the Israelites' Exodus from slavery is the foundation of Jewish ethics. The Torah (Jewish Bible) insists no less than 36 times we are obligated to protect the powerless, as we empathize with their experience as we were slaves in Egypt. We are to create societies based on the principles of justice, righteousness and compassion. Throughout the generations, the story of the Exodus has encouraged secular and religious Jews alike to commit to bringing more justice into the world.

    An Exercise for All Faiths and Backgrounds
    The Seder is an opportunity for families of any faith, culture, or ethnicity, to reconnect to their personal stories and values.

    Bring the Seder to Your Home:

    • Invite family or friends for a meal and discuss what freedom means to each of you.
    • Ask your guests to tell others about an object they have that represents freedom. Share the object with them.
    • Take action to ensure that the essential birthright of freedom is available to all human beings by donating or getting involved with justice-focused organizations.

    Passover: More Resources to Read & Review


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