A Passover Message from Rabbi Shankman

Silver Seder plate with matzah on the side

Chag Sameach!

B’chol Dor Vador — in each and every generation a person is obligated to see oneself as if they themselves had come out of Egypt. Those words appear in the heart of the Magid (telling) section of the Haggadah, only after we have told the story of our ancestors’ journey from slavery to freedom, from oppression to liberation. We re-tell the story, answer each other’s questions, and then remind one another that today, we must see ourselves as part of the continuing story — we too stand at the shores of the sea ready to cross to freedom.

This year we are preparing for Passover with much more of a sense of anticipation and anxiety than in recent years. The horrific events of October 7 and the ensuing Israel-Hamas war have overshadowed each of our Jewish holidays in the past nearly 200 days. The idea of a “Watch-Night of the Eternal” feels all too real, as we monitor news out of Israel and the region. We pray that all the hostages will be released speedily and safely.

Now more than ever, we find strength in community, and we are experiencing that in all the opportunities Washington Hebrew provides for our community to engage in respectful dialogue. We invite you to join us in our brave spaces; as we learn together, listen to one another, and experience the diversity of views and perspectives on the issues of our day.

Passover reminds us we are incredibly blessed to live in a time and a place that allows us the freedom to be Jewish in a wide variety of ways. And this year, with a precipitous rise in antisemitism on college campuses and elsewhere, we must work to ensure that freedom continues to exist for generations yet to come. We are reminded to make time in our busy lives to demonstrate our appreciation for all we have — our many blessings of life, as we symbolically journey from enslavement to freedom. When we recite the words “L’shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim” — Next Year in Jerusalem — at the end of our seder, may we commit ourselves to continue to work towards freedom and peace within our community, for Israel, and all the world.

We hope this Passover season will be filled with thoughtful conversation and an abundance of blessings. Thank you for being a blessing to our Washington Hebrew Congregation community.

Am Yisrael Chai.