JDCA remembers immigrant experience this Pesach
The story of the Exodus from Egypt that Jewish families recount at their Seder tables every spring remains constant. However, in recent past, this story resonates with new meaning for all Americans. We reaffirm what we hold most dear as members of the Jewish community–our freedom from bondage and our ability to seize opportunities that once were not accorded to us. In doing so, we give life to Judaism. We make it more than a collection of traditions, rituals, and beliefs. Our faith becomes a way of being in the world—of understanding our place in it.
In the Passover story, we learn that we, too, once were strangers in a strange land. We were immigrants fleeing from oppression and slavery, and seeking a better life for ourselves and our families.
We also learn that we searched for safety, acceptance and dignity—and found it only after spending forty years in the desert. Our liturgy reminds us that we are immigrants still. In fact, we acknowledge this status when we repeat, “Next year in Jerusalem.” This holiday, perhaps this message will be even more relevant than in past years. Sadly, some Americans have demonized immigrants who arrived on America’s shores in search of the very same dreams as our forefathers sought throughout our history. Immigrants now are being used as legislative bargaining chips, and targeted for expulsion from our country.
This year, let the story of Passover serve as a solemn yet inspiring reminder for all of us: The Jewish people are no different than today’s immigrants. To deny the right of immigrants to security and peace undermines the foundation upon which our entire community is built. Not to advocate and speak out for them, is to betray the memory of our ancestors, whether they were wandering through the Egyptian desert millennia ago, or making the trip from Europe to America on steamships centuries ago.
During our Seders, we tell a universal story. Let us share it with vigor and resolve. As Elie Weisel so memorably stated, “To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” Let us vow to uphold the lessons of Passover not only during this holiday, but throughout the year and always.
Chag Passover Sameach!