Friday, April 3, 2015



This message comes from my heart which is at the same time so full and so heavy as I put the finishing touches on our Pesach Sedarim. So many different Haggadot are already on our kitchen table awaiting their place on our Seder table for tonight. They are there because of three classes I have given in the last week on Lessons of Inclusion from the experience of the Going Out of Egypt.

Why is Yetziat Mitzrayim, the Jews’ leaving of Egypt such a pivotal story in our collective history as human beings, not to mention to those of us who share the Jewish faith? One powerful reason, and I would suggest the most meaningful and life-changing of all, is that this is the first time in history when a people CHANGED their destiny by changing their place on the “Wheel of Life.” In a world where slaves’ children would be slaves and masters’ and rulers’ children would be masters and rulers, this group of oppressed people who had once been included in the Egyptian ways and world were now EXCLUDED and OPPRESSED and made to feel so very little and unimportant. They then CHANGED the trajectory of their lives so that THEIR children and their children’s children would have a different experience in being masters of their own destiny. They did not do this alone, as we believe, but rather through the outstretched arm and strong hand of God, who watches over all.

The Jewish Nation now had a different legacy. They were tasked to teach and remember that legacy – you shall teach this to your children and their children in every generation and every person is OBLIGATED to remember that they left Egypt! That is to say that we left oppression, prejudice, a lack of social justice and the demeaning of human beings to the point of desperation and so much loss. Part of this obligation is to care for others and to work on behalf of others who are subjected to the same misuse and misappropriation of human power and agency. That is, we are not only obligated to remember but to open our door so that the poor and those who need to can come in and join us at our Pesach Seder. We are not just to do this figuratively but LITERALLY.

So, are we living up to our mission to INCLUDE ALL as bequeathed upon us by our own experiences of so many “leavings” that we had to engage in as a result of this oppression? We were forced to leave Egypt. We were forced to leave so many Arab ruled lands. We were forced to leave so many European lands during the Middle Ages. We were forced out of our homes in Russia, Nazi Germany and so many other places – Ethiopia, India, Morocco, and so on.

WE KNOW HOW THIS FEELS, THIS EXCLUSION. And now tonight (and tomorrow night for those of us not in Israel) we celebrate OUR freedom. That is truly a wonderful and important celebration. BUT are we not only celebrating our freedom but also intentionally passing on the lessons of exclusion to our children and our children’s children by truly being INCLUSIVE of all members of our community.

We have made some progress but we still have so much to make. Let all who are Sephardic, Mizrachi, and Ashkenazic come to our tables. Let us remember that women have been excluded as well and are welcome to ask questions, provide answers and share our wisdom. Let us sit around our table with people of different ethnicities, racial backgrounds, languages, lands of origin, and so many other differences that enrich and make our community so much better. Let us listen to ALL of our children and their questions, including the ones with various learning differences and challenges from which we can learn so much. Let us embrace our LGBTQ children and family members. And finally, let us all take a moment to consider all of those in our fractured world who are still excluded and not accorded the same rights and privileges of being part of our human family; promising to work on their behalf so that they too can share in the lessons of Yetziat Mitzrayim.

A Happy Passover and Chag Kasher v’Sameach to all—from our family to yours!

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