Here is something I wrote for Passover.
Spring is in the air. The weather is warming up and the spring holidays are just around the corner. The Jewish community will be celebrating Passover, celebrating the Israelite redemption from Egyptian slavery over 3500 years ago. Jews throughout the world will gather together on the first two nights of the week long Passover holiday for the Passover Seder. The Seder is a formal service that surrounds a festive meal, with the central elements being the retelling of the story of Israelite redemption and the eating of Matzah, unleavened bread.
The Passover Seder is the quintessential family holiday. One of the central texts of the Seder is the “Four Questions,” a series of statements about the many unique Passover customs incorporated into the Seder. In most homes, it is the youngest child who recites these questions, with the intended purpose being to begin the story of why we celebrate the Israelites freedom from Egyptian slavery over 3500 years ago. The retelling of the story is designed to be a dialogue between parent and child, with the child asking and the parent teaching, sharing about the history and heritage of the Jewish nation. The youngest is chosen to express the sentiment that all people need to be included, regardless of one’s level of understanding,
A central theme of the night is that all who participate are obliged to see themselves as if they were redeemed from Egypt. The goal of Passover night is to make history come alive through conversation and sharing. As such, the relationship of Passover to spring is the relationship of the rebirth of the seasons and the birth of the Israelite nation. The story of slavery to freedom is one we encounter time and again in today’s modern society.
History is best taught through the stories of the generations. This idea is best exemplified in the following verse (Deuteronomy 32:7). “Remember the days of old, understanding the years of the generations, ask your father and he will teach you, your elders and they will tell you.” We learn about the past through family stories, through the sharing of generations. It is through these stories that we begin to experience from our relatives what most only read in history books.
The story of redemption is the story of rebirth. Rebirth is supposed to be experienced afresh every Passover. The stories of our past are not one time events, but rather they are part of the unfolding saga that is each of our lives. When we sit together in conversation, we are perpetuating the story of each of our lives, and allowing the lessons of the past continue to be a source of inspiration for the present and future. It is my wish for all to have a meaningful Passover, one in which each of us learns more about from where we come and to where we will go.
Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner is the campus chaplain for the Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, which comprises the Martin and Edith Stein Assisted Living Residence , the Lena and David T. Wilentz Senior Residence and the Martin and Edith Stein Hospice. For more information, contact us at 888-311-5231, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wilfcampus.org.
View a few stories told by our residents http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugQ5qrmpuLs