Passover Meanings for Today's World

If it were possible to sum up the meaning of Passover with just one word, “freedom” most often comes to mind. As we gather with family and friends at our Seders, we tell the story of our liberation from slavery and celebrate our freedom.

With freedom comes choices, including choosing the directions we take on our Jewish journeys. In our Puget Sound Jewish community, people have many diverse ideas about what “doing Jewish” means. Each of us discovers, explores, and observes our Jewish identity and being Jewish in different ways, depending on how we were raised, our Jewish experiences growing up, and the ease—or difficulty—of finding a community that suits our aspirations for Jewish life.

That diversity of Jewish journeying is likely to increase as more people call Seattle and its environs home. Every time I look out my office window and see cranes swinging to and fro over construction sites, I am reminded of how fast our region in general, and our Jewish community in particular, is growing.

The diversity of our community is a strength. Diversity also means people possessing and expressing different points of view about how to solve the critical challenges that face our growing community. As the Passover story of the four children teaches us, it is wise to reflect on difficult questions from multiple perspectives, so we can respectfully understand each other and can better discern the best path forward for addressing the challenges we face.

Our tradition of inviting Elijah to join us at our Seders, bringing hope and promise for the future, reminds me that regardless of the paths we are taking on our Jewish journeys or of the differing perspectives we bring to Jewish life, we are all invested in community. We are all working to pass down our Jewish values and ensure a vibrant, thriving community for the next generation. That aspiration informs our work at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and the work of the many fine Jewish organizations serving our community across the region.

By securing Jewish life for the future, we will leave a legacy for our grandchildren and their grandchildren. I have confidence that when they gather for their Passover Seders, they will celebrate their freedom to connect to Judaism in familiar ways and in ways as imaginative as the human spirit.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameach!