President’s April 2023 Column

The Passover holiday will soon be celebrated around family tables throughout the world. It has always been my favorite holiday, probably due to the fun verses of songs and poetry that was always a part of our family tradition.

The Haggadah itself was written as an “orderly” retelling of the Passover story around two thousand years ago. It’s noteworthy that the exact content within the text was not set, but rather was changed and added to over the years. For instance, the song An Only Kid was not part of the original text – but who could imagine the Seder without it?

As a tradition within our family and at the start of the Seder this short preamble is offered.

We gather to retell a story. To some, just a fable, a legend, a cruel parody. But, this story’s very existence, and its defined order of telling, has a repeatable truth. A truth, measured in actions of recorded modern history.

The history of this people has filled many of nights with its dark smoke – and yet, they survived… or rather WE survive. It is a story of many people to be sure. Who have not had to fight to survive?

We each participate in this story, and interwoven within is a central theme – that by retelling we participate as if WE ourselves were part of these people; a people without a country, us without security, you without a home. We are asked to project and actively image that once you, your people were slaves.

We have retold this story for hundreds of years. It was practiced before Jesus lived and, by most accounts, by him as a Jew. It is the world’s oldest, still practicing ritual – the Seder.

It maybe the fact that these people dwell on days gone by that we are doomed to relive them. Or is it due to the fact that we gather to reimagine it annually – that we survive!

I hope this short preamble might add to the context within our modern world and perhaps at your Seder table this year. I wish you a happy Seder celebration with friends and family.

Robert Becker