Something worth fighting for

By puck glass

This year Passover feels a little different than years past. i can’t help but see it through the lens of the ongoing war in Israel and Gaza. i have thought more than a few times over the past months, “How will this Seder be different from all other Seders?” While i plan to acknowledge liberation in a meaningful way as it relates to the hostages and all who continue to live in untenable conditions, i am also surprised at how similar this Seder will look to all other Seders.

Our Seder is more than a recounting of the story of our liberation. It is a form of resistance, a statement of identity and a declaration of resilience.

We have engaged in the telling of this story through many times of persecution, when even gathering was a risk. Our narrative tells us that no matter the depths of despair we may find ourselves in, redemption is possible. We know we must be revolutionaries when we state, “In every generation, a person must see themselves as if they had personally come out from Egypt.”

Gathering to conduct a Seder is a quiet rebellion in which we declare that we know exactly who we are and where we came from. Our communal identity is formed knowing we have escaped from the Egypt of every generation and we, too, will stand up to our modern-day pharaohs and will cross the waters into deliverance ourselves. And there are many pharaohs today. Racism, homophobia and transphobia, gender-based discrimination, labor exploitation, economic inequality, xenophobia, anti-Islamic hate and antisemitism are all oppressive forces that we must rally against because we know liberation is possible. We have been telling the same story for thousands of years because we know liberation is not only possible, but it is worth a 40-year walk in the desert and every other hardship that has followed since.

At the opening of the Seder we declare “All who are hungry, come and eat; all who are needy, come and celebrate Passover.” From the outset of our Seder, we understand that there are those who may be in less fortunate circumstances than ourselves. The invitation to dine together is to say that, at least for these two days, we have nothing more than those who have the least among us. It is to understand the plight around us. It is to ensure that our communal identity is not as the victor, but as ones who are still working toward the best possible life. It is to ensure that we don’t become Pharaoh.

Despite the war that continues, my Seders will look much the same as they always have, because the Seder, no matter the circumstance, invites me in to undertake the same command: to fight for a better world. And there will always be something worth fighting for. It is an old story and it is a familiar story, and yet we tell it — again — because we need to remember. The world needs us to remember.

puck glass is a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City and is co-founder of Makom Shelanu in Fort Worth.

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