CELEBRATING PASSOVER & EASTER DURING COVID-19
I’ve been reflecting…
On a personal note, to me the greatest event in the history of Jewish civilization is the Passover. The Exodus of enslaved Jews from Egypt. Their end to slavery and their 40-year trip to the land of milk and honey, Israel. Freedom Reigns. After living in Elsewhere for over two years, I see there is nothing worse for a civilization than oppression. I am waiting for God to select another Moses so freedom will reign once again
THE FESTIVAL OF FREEDOM – PASSOVER
Happy Passover to my Jewish friends around the world! Tonight at sundown begins one of the most significant holidays of the year. And, isn’t it ironic that the people of the world today are facing what happened in Egypt over 4,000 years ago? Passover’s focus is on plagues, hardship, and the right of freedom. Doesn’t it remind you of Elsewhere? I am reflecting…
MOSES IS ONE OF MY MALE HEROS
Moses is one of my male heroes. I say this with unequivocal truth, for I have proof.
On a bright November day, I was put to the test when my daughter nudged me out of the blue at the baby naming ceremony of my first grandson, Rob.
“Mom, what Hebrew name should I give Robbie?” Though the question surprised me, my answer came without a second thought. “Moses!”
On this grandson’s 21st birthday I gave him a money clip. The top of the clip has an Israeli gold coin of Moses carrying the ten commandments at Mount Sinai.
REFLECTING ON MY FAITH
I suppose, like most of you, I live by a theory of contrasts. My Jewish heritage has provided me with wonderment. My Hebrew name is Sarah, the first Jewish woman to light the Shabbat candles on the Sabbath. I know of no intermarriage going back four generations. And my daughter may have completed our family tree further back.
As of late, I have thought about past lives. I am not a believer in past lives, per se, but I am not an unbeliever. When I am asked I tell people that for strange reasons I am drawn to the American Indian and everything French.
Curiously, as of late I decided if people did have past lives, I know with certainty, I was a slave in Egypt. One who traveled 40 years across the desert, learned her lessons. She walked into Israel a fiercely strong and committed Jewish woman. My grandfather on my father’s side would be so happy if he knew!
Because I always feel a pull to Israel. I am overly proud to have a country that represents my people. I love the land, the Mediterranean Sea, the foods, and the Olive tree. I love the Old City, the Wall, the orchards, the people. I am heartened by the Medical science and high-tech industry. There is no other place in the world that draws me to her more than Israel.
I am not a deeply religious Jewish woman but I love the teachings of the old Rabbis. I love the celebration of Passover because during the Exodus God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. Not only for Judaism but for all peoples of all faiths. He also gave the Jewish people their freedom from bondage.
Passover is a Jewish holiday based on the book of Exodus. I am of the opinion that Passover can be considered the national birthday of the Jews. And you, my friends of other faiths, can understand and appreciate this holiday. This is because its meaning is based on the essential right of every individual’s freedom. If you have the occasion to attend the first night of Passover at a friend’s home please consider the invitation.
THE CELEBRATION OF PASSOVER- THE FAMILY SEDER
Passover celebrates the redemption from the slavery of the Jewish people from Egypt. Its message is to teach our children that freedom is a great privilege that must be kept and this is not easy.
Jewish families around the world celebrate at a Seder dinner with their extended family. The theme of the holiday is renewal and optimism. The first night is a holy night. It endows the events and miracles of the historical exodus. To make the family feel the relief and joy of freedom. The youngest member at the table asks, “Why is this night holier than all other nights?”
The answers are in the Haggadah — the book that tells the story of the Exodus. And on a Seder plate; a plate with indentations for representational foods. Symbolic of the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people from bondage to freedom.
THE SEDER PLATE
- A roasted lamb shank bone represents the animal sacrificed. With his blood splashed on only the Egyptians door post on the night of the Passover.
- A hard-boiled egg is the sign of life; the survival of the children of Israel and the preparation of their existence.
- Parsley dipped in salt. The salt represents the tears of slavery. The green parsley stands for Spring, hope and redemption, and the poor diet of the Israelis.
- Bitter herbs, usually horseradish represents the bitterness of slavery.
- Haroseth is a blend of chopped apple, nuts, cinnamon, and grape juice. The food represents the sweetness to lighten the Jewish people’s burden. Also, the bricks to build monuments for the Egyptians.
In addition to the Seder plate, there is matzah on the dinner table and a wine glass at each place setting. The matzah, unleavened bread, reminds the family of the hardship of the long flight and their haste from Egypt. This allowed no time for bread to rise.
The ceremony requires each wine glass to be filled four times symbolizing the four promises of redemption.
- I will bring you out.
- I will deliver you
- I will redeem you
- I will take you to me.
THE STORY OF PASSOVER
Two thousand years before the birth of Christ, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Moses was a Jew, who was raised in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s household. He was determined to free his people who were in bondage for over 400 years. He went to Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go. The Pharaoh refused. As a punishment, God sent ten plagues upon the people of Egypt.
God told Moses to tell his people to sacrifice a lamb and splash its blood on the door of every Egyptian’s home. This was to show defiance of slavery and their faith in God. On the same night, the angel of death came to the door marked with blood and took the eldest son in each Egyptian family. It was the tenth and final plague.
On the night of the full moon in Spring, the year Moses led the Jewish people out of Egypt to the land of Canaan. Today, Canaan is known as Israel. They traveled for forty years, learned their lessons during the long and difficult journey, and founded the State of Israel.
I think Passover is particularly poignant today because of the COVID-19 pandemic, another plague. I wonder what God’s message might eventually be to the people around the world. So, I wonder… I think. And, I will continue to wonder until there is an answer.
We are resilient and we will rise to the occasion in Elsewhere. Just as the Jewish slaves did. With Moses as their leader, rose up against their persecutor Pharaoh in the land of Egypt over 4,000 years ago.
A Celebration of Passover In Brazil
I have had opportunities to celebrate Passover in a few countries around the world. One of my favorites was in San Paulo, Brazil. My Ultimate Concierge had a very important real estate meeting in Brazil and it fell over the first night of the Passover celebration. That evening we were invited to a friend’s home. I did not mention Passover because the holiday did not require going to synagogue. At nine o’clock we rang their doorbell and walked into a home filled with a gathering of their friends who greeted us with, Happy Passover! They were all Catholic.
My girlfriend served Matzo instead of bread. Also, Mogen David wines, Matzo ball soup, leg of lamb, roasted carrots, and her cook made a delicious noodle kugel!
Passover in San Paulo will be an everlasting memory. A celebration of sincere friendship and respect for all religious beliefs.
My Thoughts and Hopes
I want to take this moment to wish everyone a Happy Passover and a Happy Easter, a week later. Both holidays are celebrations of community, resilience, freedom, and regrowth. Amen.