The Mitzrayim of Dementia: A Passover Thought

Agni by Bala Sivakumar. Used under Creative Commons License. Agni by Bala Sivakumar. Used under Creative Commons License.

Rabbi Nina Mizrahi has given us permission to re-post her recent blog in our Dvar Torah section in preparation for Passover. Many congregations will read the texts from Exodus (12) that outline the call to observe Passover. This meditation calls to mind themes of challenge and liberation of one working through the enslavement of dementia. Thank you Rabbi Mizrahi. (

Place of restriction
Narrow, confining
Where the heart barely beats
The soul grasps for air
The body depleted
Stuck in a dark past.
Seventy-three years ago
A strong young man
On his eighteenth birthday
Signed up
A Jewish marine
Whatever we think we know about war
Does not come close to the reality
Clearing beaches in the South Pacific
Bloody as the first plague
These islands of paradise,
Hell in disguise
Yet, the Holy Essence was in this place
Waiting to be found
A morter landed next to him
And did not explode
No one from his unit made it back
But he survived
His Guardian Angel, he says,
Made him a believer
Memories of the war still haunt him.
PTSD is a Pharoah of Pharaohs
Seeking to enslave the very Source of Life
On the days he feels confused
Disconnected from the present
He finds himself once again held hostage
By the dark place of war
And the things he did
And the horrors he experienced
On those days, I try to rescue him
With memories of love and gratitude
while silently offering prayers for healing
Sometimes a quiet joy returns to his voice
We reminisce
He spins his tales
We stand at the shore of the sea
if only for a few moments
Singing of freedom
Loving one another
The constircted and open heart
Both part of
My father’s Torah.

Shabbat shalom and my our best to you for a sweeta nd healthy Passover
Rabbi Richard F Address

About Rabbi Richard Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of 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.

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