Last year we ended our Seders with “Next year in Jerusalem,” imagining a new year filled with hopes and dreams realized, parting ways with visions of a whole new kind of gathering.
Now, here we are, a whole new gathering for sure, but one none of us could have imagined. Instead of the sounds of bride and groom singing in the streets of Jerusalem, we are reminded of Lamentations: Lonely are the streets.
We will gather electronically and spiritually, even if not physically. We will return to the beginnings of our peoplehood to nurture hopes for brighter and healthier tomorrows.
Passover during a pandemic places parents and children apart and together, connected and distant all at once.
Still, look around, look at the screen and see the smiles, look outside and see the season’s new growth, sense the hope so central to Passover and to us as Jews.
Still, take a breath, take in the beauty of the Seder table, no matter the particulars. See the people coming together to retell a tale, finding our own voices in our shared inheritance.
Still, listen to the voices, some near and some far, some with us physically, some on screen, some in spirit. Hear the voices urging us on, helping us to see beyond today to a brighter tomorrow.
Pesach presents an intersection in time for all of us. Our old ways and our new, our enslavements and our freedom, our history and our future.
We are reminded of the intersections of our people—with Egypt, Rome, and so many more. Each presented both possibility and potential problems.
This Passover, as we join in new ways, remind us of our perch at history’s intersections. Will we go back or move forward? Will we survey the land and learn from all that is arrayed before us, or charge ahead into an unknown?
Tonight, the voices of our past join with us. Listen close and you will hear the whispers: We Jews believe in hope. We Jews believe in possibility. We Jews pursue freedom for all. This year we are enslaved. Next year, we pray, may we be free!
Rabbi Daniel Fellman is the rabbi of Temple Concord in Syracuse, New York.