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April 10th, 2017

Passover, Syria and a Presidential Prayer

Passover and its seders deal with two fundamental concepts. The first is a celebration of a very dramatic escape from slavery to freedom.

The second is empathy. At the seder, we are asked to place ourselves in the footsteps of those who were physically there, as Jews note that we were slaves in Egypt and now we are free. A central part of the reading of the Passover Haggadah states:

“In each generation, each person is obligated to see himself or herself as though he or she personally came forth from Egypt.”

This concept is repeated in song and other readings as we attempt to “relive” history, so that its lessons are not forgotten.

So what does this mean for the current catastrophe in Syria, with an exodus of people fleeing to freedom as fast as they can get out the door?

Should we not place ourselves — to the best such placement can even be contemplated — into the shoes of others living in oppression?

If people are enslaved or living under tyranny elsewhere, how can we really be free if we have empathy?

Aren’t those who are currently free, mostly free due to little more than the lottery of birth?

An additional Passover prayer for President Trump, in the event that he can attend a seder or two this week:

Let him contemplate that the Jewish escape from tyranny and slavery 3,000+ years ago is not just history, but that others remain in such dire circumstances today. Let him have the wisdom and the charity to open our doors to those fleeing oppression, and recognize that those who make it to freedom are often the best that this world has to offer.

While freedom may be a lottery for most, it is not for all.

One thought on “Passover, Syria and a Presidential Prayer

  1. I am not Jewish, but via a marriage on my mother’s side, I am familiar with the religion. I have attended a seder and found it very moving. All non-Jews should attend at least one, but please do one conducted by actual JEWS, not fanatical Christians. Mine was the former, not the latter. Otherwise you might miss the point.

    I suppose, to be totally “fair and balanced” in my outlook, I should fast during Ramadan. Probably not going to happen, though, although it would be good for me to do so. I see that there are many fat Muslims, too.

    Your post is on point, except for the part about the Drumpfensteinmonster®. He has already passed on the White House seder, but this may not be a cause for snark. That event could well be a media circus instead of a solemn observation,.

    His son-in-law, Kushner is said to be “observant:”. So, there should be a family seder, which, to me, is the correct way to observe the custom. So, one would hope that the specter of Charlton Heston versus Yul Brynner could still be pushed into the background, instead of a scenario where The Don plays Heston and Bashar Hafez al-Assad plays Yul, without film union rules in effect. SAD!

    Trust me, the players and crew need time for lunch!

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