A Message for Passover

Rabbi Zachary Zysman

CONTINUITY OF COMMUNITY | What strange and unprecedented times these are. I pray this message finds you and your loved ones healthy, safe, and surrounded by blessings. Please know that I am available to connect and serve in any way I can.

It seems unfair and ironic that Passover has been canceled this year, due to a plague.

Passover celebrates freedom and family, as Jews remember the Exodus from Egypt more than 3,000 years ago when Moses defeated Pharaoh with 10 plagues and helped the Israelites escape to the “Promised Land.” On the 15th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, (April 8, 2020), Jews are supposed to gather with family and friends in the evening to read from a book called the Haggadah, meaning “telling,” which contains the orders of prayers, rituals, readings, and songs for the Passover Seder. The Haggadah helps us retell the events of the Exodus, so that each generation may learn and remember this story that is so central to Jewish life and history.

During the Seder, we ask four questions, one of which is why this night is different from all others during the rest of the year; we will certainly have a unique answer this year. The large Seders and community gatherings we are used to will not take place. Many of our Seders will happen over Zoom, with family members sheltering in place, scattered throughout the world. As mentioned, this seems unfair, however, as Rabbi David Wolpe urges, if we want to have Passover next year, we must be vigilant and careful this year.

My Passover message is to think about how you will remember your actions when you tell the story of this Passover during this narrow and scary time. We are all on a narrow bridge at the moment, the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzraim, literally means “narrow place.” I imagine we all want to be proud and not embarrassed about how we acted when we were on this narrow bridge. I invite you to think about what your Passover story will be? How will your loved ones tell it to their children? And so on?

Hag Samaech, 

Rabbi Zysman
Campus Rabbi and Director of Jewish Student Life, LMU Hillel

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