We Jews talk a lot. Our prayerbooks are full of words. Our libraries are filled with books: holy texts and philosophy and history and literature. We have no shortage of words.
The Passover seder is known for lots of words as well. The book we use is the Haggadah, which means “the telling.” We are all storytellers, retelling ancient tales from one generation to another.
But the seder is not a passive event. In addition to the words, our rituals help us to learn and to experience the story of the Exodus for ourselves. Ultimately, the words of the Haggadah should also move us to action. Though the story of the Exodus from Egypt is in the past, the experiences of slavery, poverty, oppression, and redemption are always current. After the seder, there is still work to be done.
We have one week to prepare for the momentous holiday of Pesach. Whether you are hosting a seder or you’re a guest, whether you are cleaning or cooking or choosing your haggadah and readings, or getting ready for the holiday, there is work to be done now.
This coming Shabbat we have packed in a variety of ways to prepare for Pesach: physically (baking matza with our own hands), spiritually (hearing a renowned preacher speak on Shabbat about sanctuary for people fearing deportation), intellectually (studying the themes of Pesach) or emotionally (finding others to share a seder). See the rest of the newsletter to take part in these events.
I am busy preparing for my own seder at home, as well as two events that are as much about action as words.
I invite you to join me as I lead the annual Jewish Labor Seder this Sunday, March 25 at Temple Israel, Boston. In addition to honoring leaders who have contributed to major victories for workers (including a rabbi, a labor leader, and two organizations working for worker justice) this year’s seder will take note of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our Labor Seder Haggadah will quote a variety of thinkers on issues of racial and economic justice.
In the middle of the Passover week, I will be leading another seder. On April 4 I will be in Memphis, Tennessee in the historic Clayton Temple, where MLK spoke to the Sanitation Workers fifty years ago, the night before he was assassinated. To commemorate those historic events, the Jewish Labor Committee is co-sponsoring a national interfaith Labor Seder with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) as part of a three-day commemoration in Memphis. (See this link for more information about the commemoration of the Sanitation Workers’ Strike and this link for a photo and description of the Clayborn Temple). I look forward to sharing more about that when I return, as we all work together to bring justice and liberation to our world today.
One more event later in April:
For the first time, I’ll be attending the JStreet National Conference in Washington D.C. April 15-17. I know others in the congregation who have gone, or may be planning to attend this year. JStreet is offering a discount for congregations sending 5 or more participants, so please let me know if you’re coming. I would love to see you there!
So many words, and so many ways to make a difference.
I wish you good preparations for a joyous Pesach holiday!