Believe it or not, Passover is around the corner!
Above all else, Pesach lionizes Jewish memory.
We cannot overstate the importance of remembering our emancipation from Egypt, and how our story has shaped the Western world in ways that are profound.
But, I’m talking about a different type of memory- the memory that you have of joy around the seder table, of recipes and aromas, of Mah Nishtanas and laughter.
Purposefully, much of the seder is designed to evoke questions, so that we can better engage our children (and ourselves) in The Story. The Exodus that happened once upon a time, and, like ripples in a still pond, continues in every age where Jews reside.
In an effort to make the seder fun, we have the tradition of hiding the afikomen (Greek for ‘dessert’). Symbolic of the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the birth canal of the Israelite nation, early in the service, the middle piece of matza is split in half. (split like the sea…get it?)
One-half remains on the table, while the other is hidden in the home so that the kids can, later in the evening, search for it in the mad frenzy that we have all grown to love.
Tradition has it that the seder cannot be completed without that missing half of matza returned to the seder-leader. Which is why we give prizes as rewards. Otherwise, we might have to sleep at the table!
But what we don’t usually explicitly speak about, although it is inferred through the ritual itself, is that more than representing the split sea, that missing half of matza represents the Jewish mission to the world.
There is an idea that permeates Jewish culture, through every age and land, that the world in which we live is broken. The mission of the Jewish people, and every individual Jew, is to take action to fix it.
The term that is used to describe this process is more than Tikkun Olam, but in fact, Redemption.
Just as we were once oppressed, but now we are free; we cannot rest while there is injustice and oppression in the world, in society, and in our lives.
The missing piece of matza is our reminder that we have a purpose, and that the world can be redeemed from its broken state.
Of course, that is heavy for kids, so we make it into a game.
When we are ready, we learn more…
You are ready.
In the spirit of Tikkun Olam, I would like to encourage you to come to Friday night services tomorrow night where we will honor a select group of volunteers for their leadership, for caring, and for inspiring us all to do more. Social Justice has become the rhythm of Temple Emanu-El, and this year’s honorees are our champions. Come and honor them, stand with them, and be inspired!
They are: Karen Baron, Bill & Rhea Berger, Terri Boxer, Nora Floersheim, Bea Grossman, Mickey Rosner, Daphne Schechter, Karen Singer & Leah Weiss.
P.S.- If you, yourself, are interested in participating any of our Social Justice Initiatives , or want to learn more about them, please feel free to contact our Social Justice Committee co-chairs, Wendy Frank and Julie Mokotoff.