Tonight Passover begins. Last night we went to a Passover Eve concert by the Klezmatics. In addition to their usual array of Klezmer tunes, this long-time band played music by Woody Guthrie and African-American Spirituals. Connecting these threads was the human desire for freedom, accountability, and fairness.
In a couple of weeks, we hold Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah). On that day we ask, “What have we learned?” That is a tough question. It is difficult for any number of reasons: our culture teaches us to choose entertainment over awareness; genocide continues throughout the world; “Our times are dark,” as the Klezmatics said last night; and awareness is painful, just to name a few.
Tonight, “a night unlike all other nights”, we celebrate Passover. In doing so we remember the Jewish people’s long ago journey through the wilderness to freedom. We will also recall the many people who met oppression with courage: Rosa Parks, Chief Joseph, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and innumerable others, famous and unknown, who sought justice and freedom. We will acknowledge that now, as in the past, there are those who enslave and oppress in the name of economic and national security, patriotism, or racial or ethnic superiority.
Tonight we focus on slavery and redemption. At some point during dinner, having invited Elijah, and all other prophets who spoke for the good of all people, to join us, we will raise a cup and ask the age-old question, “If not freedom and justice now, then when?”