At Passover, a new cry of redemption | News, Sports, Jobs


At tonight’s Passover seder, the ritual meal of the festival in which we share with family and friends our story of God’s redemption of the Jewish people from slavery and violent oppression in ancient Egypt. , we read the following:

“In every generation, each of us is required to see ourselves as if we were personally redeemed from Egypt.”

The seder meal is a sensory experience designed to elicit such emotions: the sharp bite of horseradish as a symbol of the bitter life of our enslaved ancestors; the density of the “charoses”, the mixed fruit and nut salad that reminds us of the mortar used to build the great memorial of Pharaoh to himself; the salt water in which we dip our vegetables, signifying the tears of those who cried out to God for redemption.

We eat the bread of affliction (matzah), warm our hearts with the light of our festive candles and open the door to the prophet Elijah, who will bring redemption to the world.

Matza is unleavened; it was cooked quickly as the Jewish nation prepared to leave Egypt. In some cultures, seder attendees dress in traveling clothes with a staff in hand, as if they themselves are ready to flee Egypt at any moment.

This year, such a re-enactment surely takes on more depth and emotion as we have seen millions of Ukrainians – many of them Jews – packing their bags and waiting in shelters for the moment when the shelling stops and they can attempt to flee the murderous violence. of the Russian army.

This week, more than two dozen of my rabbinical colleagues are in Krakow, Poland, delivering more than two tons of humanitarian aid. They join people of all faiths who have come to help the dispossessed and traumatized and bear witness to their painful stories.

The horrors inflicted on the people of Ukraine – a land of democratic promise and cultural diversity – remind us all that we never know when we will be the ones to flee, leaving behind everything we know and hold dear.

In our biblical redemption story, God commanded Moses, Miriam, and Aaron to lead the people across a miraculously dry seabed to freedom. Today, God inspires and compels us to gather all the resources at our disposal to provide a safe haven for those who have cried out for redemption.

We cannot expect miracles. We must work miracles for the unjustly dispossessed Ukrainian people.

Rabbi Audrey R. Korotkin, Ph.D., has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel in Altoona since 2010.



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