Our Celebration of Freedom

By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
This evening when we sit down to our Passover Seders, we will join with family and friends in celebrating our freedom. Our world today is vastly different from what it was when our forebears escaped from slavery and regained their freedom, but the Exodus story is as timely today as it was those many centuries ago.

The ritual re-telling of that story connects us to our history. Everywhere in the world on this night, however our Seders differ in practice and customs, we are engaged in a communal act of remembrance. For Jews, remembrance is a powerful force for Jewish continuity. Remembrance is a hallmark of our faith. Remembrance keeps traditions alive, enriches Jewish life and culture through learning, and strengthens the bonds of community. Remembrance is a candle we light to counter darkness and to illuminate our way towards a strong and vibrant future.

The Passover story connects us to our values. When we begin the Seder by inviting the hungry to join us at the table, we are putting our ethic of righting the world’s wrongs front and center. We are reminded that we have an unending obligation to serve as a voice for the voiceless, to help those in need, seek justice, and welcome the stranger. The freedom we celebrate carries with it a responsibility to repair our world.

The Seder unites the generations in the most intimate of family settings – the home. When the youngest person at the table asks the Four Questions, it is a way of passing down the Passover story and its meanings to the children who will inherit our community and our world.

When we end the Seder ritual by proclaiming “Next year in Jerusalem,” we are celebrating Israel, the birthplace of our people and our Jewish homeland. Fostering a stronger sense of connection with Israel and with Jewish communities around the world is indispensable for ensuring a vibrant future for Jewish life here at home.

We cannot say with certainty what course Jewish life will take in the years ahead, but what we can be sure of is that the freedom we celebrate at Passover offers a welcoming space, where Jews express their Jewish identities in many diverse and meaningful ways. In that space, we can look forward to an exciting future for Jewish life and much to celebrate at Passover for years to come.

Chag Pesach Sameach!