Tonight is also the beginning of Passover, the celebration of Israelite freedom from Egyptian slavery and the perpetual Jewish hope to bring redemption to all who are oppressed, wherever they may be. For this reason, we refer to this season as z’man chereteynu – the “time of our freedom.”
There have always been parallels drawn between the experience of the ancient Israelites at the hands of Pharaoh and that of the African slaves here in the
This Passover, the compelling analogies have taken on an even greater significance: during this past week while in Cincinnati, I visited the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (www.freedomcenter.org); this fascinating museum chronicles the history of the Underground Railroad and teaches once again how the effort to abolish slavery in this country was among the greatest accomplishments ever undertaken by our forebears, and yet its challenges still saddle our society today. This visit was so powerful as I went with my children – who have reached the point of being able to understand and appreciate the profound meaning of our past, as well as to personalize its questions. As the Haggadah demands: “in each generation a person must consider himself as if personally freed from
Driving home from the
Bernard Malamud said that the purpose of freedom is to create it for others. In this season of renewal, may the stories of freedom’s struggle inspire us to bring emancipation to all, no matter what their chains.