As March concludes, millions of us will sit down to a Passover seder. Seder and Passover is the number one most observed festival in the Jewish calendar. At least that is what so many sociologists tell us. But, it really does make sense. It is a family and home celebration.
Rarely do we venture to the synagogue. It binds generations and everyone has at least one Passover memory and favorite food. It is also one of, if not the only, festival that often visually demonstrates the march of time. The imagery of the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness and the presence of many generations at the same table is a powerful combination. Yet, if we allow it, there is a very important spiritual message in all of this.
Literally we may see the words of the prayer book before us: l’dor va dor–from generation to generation. Personally, I hope to have, for the first time, at least four generations of my family around the table this year; from my 94 year old mom to her 10 month old great granddaughter. For those of us in what I call the “club-sandwich” generation, Passover takes on even more powerful symbolism. The image of the wandering is very powerful, especially in these times. There seems to be so much uncertainty, so much unexpressed angst over family, finances and health. The fragility of life seems even more present.
Yet, the message of the seder is important for us to remember. The telling of the Exodus story moves, as the hagaddah tells us from oppression to liberation, from slavery to freedom. And the journey took time.
And so it is with us. We have been blessed, we pray, with time and the ability, we pray, to experience new ideas, dream new dreams and fulfill new desires. Many of us still balance work, children, grandchildren and a parent or parents in a finely balanced logistical dance. But, there is also the knowledge that if we plan correctly, an exciting and energizing new chapter of life is before us. We cannot control these passages. The randomness of health and life are an on-going mystery. But, we hope that the future will open before us in ways that we cannot imagine, just as, at the end of the seder we open a door for the welcoming of a symbolic age of enlightenment and peace.
We end the evening with the traditional refrain L’shanna ha’bah ‘b’yerushalayim—next year in Jerusalem as we hope for life and health and peace. So may it be with you and your family. May this Passover season be one of excitement, energy, love and peace and hope.
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.