The ancient rite of Passover reminds us to fight injustice today | Opinion
“Never forget you were a slave in the Land of Egypt.” These words will soon echo through the homes of millions of Jews around the world. For thousands of years, two nights a year, millions of us celebrate Passover by practicing the same customs, eating the same meals, and reading from the same book, all at the same time. As the most widely observed Jewish holiday, Passover connects all Jews across time and space. This is one of the reasons for its popularity, but it is its message that defines us as a people.
Passover is the celebration of the Exodus from Egypt and our redemption from slavery, whereupon we were received the Torah and were delivered to the Promised Land — the foundational moment where the Hebrews became Jews. And while we celebrate our own liberation, we are always reminded, “Our Redemption is not yet complete.” And we are called to justice.
Five times the Haggadah bids us, “Never forget you were a slave in the land of Egypt.” Not our ancestors, but we ourselves. And it instructs us to be kind to the stranger in our land, to be generous to the widow and the orphan, and even to have mercy on those who have wronged us — all because we should never forget were slaves in the land of Egypt
We read, “Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want share the hope of Passover.” But hope is not enough, we must take action.
Most Americans are familiar with the 10 plagues of Egypt with which God punished Pharoah, but the haggadah also instructs us to cast out the 10 plagues that still threaten us today: the making of war; the teaching of hate and violence; despoliation of the Earth; perversion of justice and of government; fomenting of vice and crime; neglect of human needs; oppression of nations and peoples; corruption of culture; subjugation of science, learning, and human discourse; and the erosion of freedoms.
If nothing else, Passover is a reminder that, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” For our final toast, “We raise this cup for the day when we will tell of the deliverance of all” as a calling that the Jewish people everywhere must remain committed to the ongoing work of liberation for all oppressed people regardless of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, or disability. It is fitting that we conclude the celebration by saying, “Next year may all be free!”
Daniel Grossberg is a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 30th District in Jefferson County.