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Rabbi Lisa's Message

April 17, 2024

This Friday, April 19th will mark 81 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The Nazi occupation of Warsaw began in 1939. Four years later, on April 19th, German troops set out to deport that last of the Jewish inhabitants there. This was at the height of what was known as the “Final Solution.” 

Like this year, Passover came late in 1943. April 19th was the eve of the holiday observance. As the troops and police entered the ghetto, Jewish insurgents rose up and resisted the Nazis efforts to round them up for deportation and imminent death. For twenty-seven days, until May 16th, 1943 this strong act of resistance came to be known as the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Rabbi Adam Ross, in his article The Last Seder in the Warsaw Ghetto, describes the power of resisting the Nazis during Passover and having that seder in 1943 be their last one in the ghetto. He says, “The handful of Jews who survived the Nazi’s final onslaught on Warsaw, once a major center of Jewish life, have this Seder night more than any other etched in their memories as a testament to Passover’s powerful calling to connect to family, history, tradition and hope.”

Yes. Precisely. Passover calls us to connect to our family (immediate and ancestral), to recall the story of our bondage and ultimate liberation, to keep alive the tradition of recounting this epic story around the seder table each year, and of course to dare to hope.

Now more than ever hope is an essential ingredient for our Passover tables. Pesach 2024 will be experienced in the aftermath of October 7th. While that may cause great despair and dissonance for all of us, in different ways, we must ask ourselves: 

  • What is it that we can learn from the Passover story this year, this time around?

  • What parts of the story that have changed, or forced us to look at things in a new and different way?

  • What parts of the story are eternal and endure year after year, despite outside circumstances?

  • How can embrace the insistent hope that is woven throughout the Passover story, even in its darkest moments?

  • How can Passover transform us this year? 

  • Can we accept the challenge to work for peace, security, and liberation for ALL people?

Chag Pesach Sameach! May your holiday observance be transformative and bring you exactly what you need. 

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