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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Passover Inspires Hope

pesachTo me, Passover is like a Jewish Thanksgiving, not that Jews don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and not that Passover is only that.  The first Passover was a Thanksgiving-in-advance as the people of Israel were about to be led out of Egypt by God, and his servant, Moses.  They were to eat the meal in haste, no leaven in their bread, the blood of a lamb on their doorposts to protect from the death angel, and the promise of freedom looming before them.

Nothing but the plagues had happened, yet.  The Israelites had to act in faith that greater events were about to occur.

Now we look back on the narratives and give thanks, remembering we were once slaves in Egypt, and that God brought us out with a mighty, outstretched arm.  However, at the time, the Israelites might have been quite nervous about what the future held.  That’s the dichotomy that most of us face:  how to be thankful, and hopeful, even while going through a rough patch.

God is still there.  He still cares.   While he doesn’t wave a magic wand, He does give us ways to prevail through even passover-usathe most difficult of circumstances.

I was thinking on Monday as we came up to the seder night when all families enjoy a festive meal of certain foods and specific Biblical readings, that there were two times when I was “alone” for the seder.  Naturally, in a context that values all things communal, you can never quite be alone, but I was not with my own family, and both times I was in Israel.

Once was during the Gulf War of 1991.  There I was in Jerusalem, in the midst of a several-month study sabbatical, Saddam Hussein having the nerve to start dropping missiles on my head.  Benedetto was busy with his responsibilities in the U.S., but had urged me to complete some things that I needed to do, with him visiting when he could.  Passover grew near, the war ended, and his former boss, a prominent archaeologist, had invited me to come and share the evening with their family.

14963995-jewish-passover-matzahThey were like family to us.  The man and his wife knew the two of us before we were married, and after.  We saw their children grow up over the years.  So it was decided that one of their daughters would come and pick me up on the night when all public transportation ground to a halt.  She came with another girlfriend and there was a festive mood in the air.  The two of them chatted in Hebrew, and I didn’t notice when their mood turned somber.

“Are you getting this?” Hannah asked me, knowing that I was not uber-fluent.

“Um, pretty much,” I laughed, enjoying the scenery on the way to their house.

“Do you know what ______ means?”  she asked, calling a Hebrew word that I couldn’t quite place.passoverSedertable

“No, I don’t think so,” I puzzled.

“Rape,” she said, while my face dropped.  “One of our friends was just raped.”

“Oh!”  I caught my breath. “I’m so sorry, I had no idea.”

Obviously, they were not discussing the whole scenario, or I would have picked up on it.  They just made mention, coming into the story midway.  On our way to a happy celebration of family and friends, these young ladies also had a corner of their hearts that was heavy that night.

Another year, I traveled to Israel specifically for a wedding.  As usual, I needed to be there for some other projects and I could just as easily arrive in time to witness the marriage of a friend’s daughter.  Noting that Passover would be only a few days later, he suggested that I come to their family’s seder, as well.

seder-mealThe wedding was spectacular:  big, tented pavilions by night in a grassy setting in the middle of nowhere.  Everyone looked so beautiful and happy.  A delicious meal, music, and dancing ensued.  A couple of days later, I was at the family seder table with bride and groom, family and friends, near Tel Aviv.

The mood could not be more joyful.  As with most secular Israelis, the meal was the main part of the festivities.  Each family member took turns reading through the Haggadah (retelling) of the Passover story, speed-reading around and around the table like there was no tomorrow.  When it came time for my paragraph, I acquiesced with a sentence or two in Hebrew.  I didn’t want to slow them down, lol, but life had its own way of sobering up the best of us.

One year later, their youngest son, 21, was killed by terrorists.  Naturally, nobody saw it coming.  The carefree, sarajevo_haggadah-illuminated_textjocular mood turned to anguish and mourning.  But Passover would happen that year, even if the family felt the need to take a small getaway, rent a home in the Tuscan hill country, and collect their thoughts.

To me, Passover represents the ability to give thanks and remain hopeful even when you’re in the midst of something difficult.  You may physically still be in Egypt, but you’re coming out.

You’re on your way, my friend.  You may not have arrived, yet, but you’re on your way.  Keep moving forward in faith.  Happy Passover.



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar ap says:

    Thanks :O) This is just what I needed today! Especially the last paragraph.

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