"In every generation, it is incumbent upon us to see ourselves as if we had gone out of Egypt"
— The Passover Hagaddah
Passover, also called "the Holiday of Spring" and "The Holiday of Freedom," celebrates the Israelites' exodus from slavery in Egypt, our beginnings as a free people, and the start of the spring harvest season. Centuries before the current trend of experiential Jewish education, the Passover seder was created—not to retell the biblical Exodus story, but to create a full sensory experience, awakening our own experiences of slavery and liberation through the Passover symbols and foods, sharing contemporary stories of liberation, and actively engaging every participant in conversation.
The injunction to remember that we were slaves in Egypt, embedded in our daily prayers, is not to reinforce an identity as victims. On the contrary: it reminds us that we who have been redeemed from oppression have an ongoing responsibility to those who remain oppressed.
Most of us have known the experience of slavery and oppression—if not in the literal, biblical sense, in being the object of discrimination and prejudice, political disenfranchisement, being trapped in unhealthy relationships, and addictions. Some of us still experience it. Passover is an opportunity to reflect on how we have emerged from those "narrow places," and on the areas in our lives today from which we still seek liberation.
Passover also challenges us to look beyond ourselves, to the people and systems today perpetuating oppression and slavery; to celebrate movements of freedom and liberation; and to commit ourselves to using the freedoms we enjoy to help extend that freedom to others. This Passover, we are highlighting the work of some of the remarkable organizations in our community whose mission it is to lift the yoke of oppression and bring freedom to those who seek it. I encourage you to actively join in the work of liberation by telling these stories at your seder table and supporting one or more of these critical efforts.
A zissen Pesach—Chag Sameach—Happy Passover
Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen
Director of The Center for Jewish Living
The Holiday Rundown: Passover—Seder Cheat Sheet,
Thu, Mar 21, 7 pm
Lotsa Matzah: Easy Passover-friendly Dishes for 20's & 30's,
Thu, Mar 21, 7 pm
Holiday Workshops: Passover (18 months–4 Years),
Fri, Mar 22, 10 am
PJ Library Storytime!
Fri, Mar 22, noon
Passover Celebration for Children with Special Needs and their Families,
Sun, Mar 24, 11:30 am
Russian-Speaking LGBT Community Passover Seder,
Wed, Mar 27, 7 pm
Adaptations: Chat'n Chew—Chocolate Seder,
Thu, Mar 28, 6 pm
Enacting the DREAM: A Conversation on Immigration Reform
Wed, Apr 3, 7:30 pm
Passover is, above all else, a holiday that celebrates freedom. The seder provides an opportunity to rejoice in our transformation from slaves to a liberated nation, to live as free people in a land of our choosing.
Passover and Paid Sick Days
Pharaoh inflicted the Israelites with impossibly hard work and no rest. This Passover it is fitting that we focus on protecting workers in our midst. Learn more about the Paid Sick Days bill in the New York City Council
Passover and Comprehensive Immigration Reform After the Exodus from Egypt the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for another generation. As Jews we have a long history of wandering. Just as we have experienced slavery in Egypt, we have know what it is to be unwelcome residents in a new country, and how our community has been transformed when we have achieved full and equal citizenship.
Were you born in this country? Were your parents? Your grandparents? Tell your own family's immigration story around the seder table. How does the Jewish community relate to the current national conversation on comprehensive immigration reform?
JCC Special Event: Enacting the DREAM: A Conversation on Immigration Reform
Join Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, fellow DREAM activist Roy Naim and Rachel Tiven, the Executive Director of Immigration Equality, for a conversation on current immigration reform efforts and why this issue is important to our community.
Wed, Apr 3, 7:30 pm, $10/$15
(free for students—use code STUDENT at checkout)
A Sephardic/North African vegetarian Passover menu perfect for the Mediterranean diet
(Not all recipes conform to Ashkenazic Passover observance.)