Refugee Passover

I’m tired this morning and it is no wonder. Last night, Passover started and of course, we stayed up long.

Passover commemorates and celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery; or, it is the even that constituted us as a people. Leaving Egypt in a haste and fleeing through the see of reeds, we were refugees, and the seder meal makes us relive the history of liberation, as though each of us has been there. Why yes, each of us is part of the people, each of us has carries some of what ancient Egypt represents within us, and each of us needs liberation – all in a communal perspective: you don’t eat a seder meal alone, on your own.

As a descendant of a refugee people, and thinking about these days of Passover, lots of things go through my mind.

What does it mean to be a descendant of a refugee people?

Through our history, right from the beginning, the Jewish people have suffered violence and persecution. We have wandered in search of a safe place, in search of a home. We have settled in many places, adapted, only to be forced to leave and find another place.

So what does it mean to be a descendant of a refugee people?

Doesn’t it mean that every refugee is my brother and my sister, no matter their creed or color. It means that I cannot be silent about what is being done, and that I cannot be silent when others in my country want to close the doors. It means that I need to speak up when my country wants to sell weapons to other countries and warlords, or participate in or commence acts of war.

It means also that in my quest for a home, I cannot displace and violate and turn into refugees those who are my neighbors, my brothers, my sisters – turning me into oppressor. It means not saying “nits will become lice”, but seeing all children as inestimable treasures, to be cherished and treasured, and whose future must be ensured, in the best conditions possible.

It means always standing up for social justice, for peace, for solidarity, for friendship, reaching out to others. How can I be truly free when others are not? I thank God every day for my freedom – but just the same I must pray for the freedom of the rest of the world that starts at my doorsteps. And think about which concrete action I can take.


חג שמח


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