Dear WJC Family,
Two years ago as Passover approached in the most fearful early days of the COVID pandemic, I wrote about the first Passover in Egypt—Jewish people huddled in their homes as an invisible and inexplicable death passed outside among their neighbors. Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, literally the narrow small space. Two years later, as Passover 5782 is upon us, I am reminded that the path of the Exodus always pointed towards freedom, but it was never a straight line. We went from Goshen in Egypt to facing the daunting waters of the Red Sea, from the parted Red Sea to the attack of the Amelekites, from Sinai to the Golden Calf to forty years in the desert and many fearful attacks.
So too, our path out of the mitzrayim of COVID is clearly not straight either. I have been so saddened to hear of positive tests around the community causing illness and canceling seders people have been looking forward to for three years. Like the Exodus from Egypt, the societal recovery from COVID and learning how to live with the reality of its presence is also not a straight line. As waves come and go and come again, I want to highlight another lesson from the Exodus story and the long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. But first, let me say before I begin the drash, that if you are very sick, or very scared or having struggles with depression, isolation, or anxiety, you are not alone – we are here to help. Please reach out and let us know.
The Jewish people of the Exodus were always at their weakest when they were divided – fighting or judging each other, rebelling against their leaders or even rejecting God.These were the moments when guided by fear, confusion and judgment, the people were at their worst—the worshiping of the Golden Calf or the acceptance of the bad report of the ten spies instead of the positive report of Joshua and Caleb. But in moments of unity and faith, the desert was home and the people blossomed, they created the Tabernacle, accepted the Torah, defeated foes and arrived in Israel.
And so we are faced with the same choice as the generation of the Exodus on their long journey from Egypt – turn on each other in fear or judgment or be stronger together. Everyone I know is trying to make the best decisions for themselves and the people they love. Since everyone’s situation is different, from the comfort and safety of their homes, to their personal needs, to their physical and mental health situation and because we are all trying to understand and interpret the cacophony of information about COVID, those decisions are different for everyone.
I hope as the pandemic wears on with its confusion and disappointments, and sometimes triumphs like vaccinations, treatments, and times of normalcy that we can embrace this lesson of the first Exodus—the way will be long and it won’t always be clear what the best way forward is. Still, let’s disagree with respect, recognize with humility that everyone is doing the best they can and move forward in a way that works for them and their families. Let’s recognize that judging each other’s decisions is not helping them or us. I know this isn’t easy and yet I know this is the only path forward as a community.
If you are interested in reading the column by social worker Miranda Featherstone that got me thinking about the above, click here.
However we are approaching this seder, in elation that it will be the first seder in years with people we care about, or disappointment that for one reason or another it won’t be – sometimes it helps to smile. If you haven’t yet seen Six13’s A Billy Joel Passover, it will help you do just that.
And one last resource for sanity in these tumultuous times—sometimes it helps to make our journey from mitzrayim to redemption with a little extra intention. I encourage you to click here to Download Sisterhood’s Making the Omer Count: 50 Meditations to Elevate Your Self and Find Your Presence. It includes a wonderful daily kavanah, or passage of intention, for everyday from the night of the 2nd seder for 49 days until Shavuot.
See below for a schedule of Passover services, including the fact that there is no service at shul tonight or Saturday night.
See you in the mornings,