Passover Joy

April 7, 2023

When we gather around our seder tables and tell the story of the Israelites’ enslavement and subsequent journey to freedom, we engage in – what I like to call – an embodied practice of empathy building. We are instructed to put ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, and of those who remain burdened by oppression of all kinds, and imagine the feeling, the experience, of moving from Mitzrayim, the narrow places, to freedom. But the Passover rituals also offer an opportunity to build empathy and see possibilities for ourselves: by embarking on this journey, we are encouraged to think about and examine the ways in which we – physically, metaphorically, spiritually – are stuck in narrow places, and to push ourselves to find expansiveness, possibility and yes, even freedom.

For our ancestors, the first steps of the journey toward freedom, into the unknown, were made with trepidation… but luckily for us, we know how the story ends, and our Passover journeys can begin from a place of joy. And “joy” is the word that comes to mind as I think back over the celebrations we’ve enjoyed together this week – starting at the ARS Chocolate Seder on Tuesday, and then our community 2nd night seder on Thursday evening. On both occasions, the energy in the room was palpable (the copious amounts of sugar our ARS students consumed on Tuesday, and the incredible music we made together on Thursday certainly helped!), and clearly rooted in the overflowing joy at the simple, yet precious opportunity to gather in person to make this narrative and spiritual journey together. It was truly a gift to be with so many of you to celebrate our festival of freedom, and I wish you and yours a peaceful Shabbat, and a joyful, sweet remainder of Passover. 

Rabbi Jennifer Queen