Passover message: Path to freedom, renewal after shackles of plague

By Rabbi Dean Shapiro, Temple Emmanuel

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At Passover, Jews EAT a story, the great story at the center of our people: We were enslaved; now we are free. Throughout the meal, the foods and drinks we consume evoke ideas, feelings and memories about liberation. They prompt us to radical empathy, and to stand, actively, alongside the oppressed.

Rabbi Dean Shapiro

The story is profoundly ancient, yet always new. That’s why we tell it again and again.

Last year, our seder dinners were especially poignant.  They were the first major event we held in lockdown, separated from the ones we love. We felt — many of us for the very first time — what “plague” really means. We imagined, as we never had before, how long the dark night our ancestors spent huddled in their homes as the Angel of Death passed by them. The story felt personal as rarely before.

As the Ten Plagues are recounted, we spill a drop of wine from our cup. Our joy is diminished when others suffer. This year, I’ll be thinking of the many losses that have accompanied COVID — missed income, opportunities, celebrations, friendships, hugs and so much else. A plague is more than death.

This Passover, we lift our eyes to new possibilities: stepping out of our homes and being together fully, feeling safe from the shackles of illness, fear and restriction. We have been confined; soon we may all become free.

May this be a season of renewal for us all, as we venture forth together




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