Passover is coming next week, yet it seems to have been with us in spirit a great deal this year. Many Jewish individuals and congregations in Vancouver and elsewhere have been involved in welcoming Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing tyranny and violence. And, almost inevitably, part of the justification for helping has been the Exodus story.
Through our religious teachings and rituals, we are engaged in applying the experiences of the past to the events of the present. The Pesach story is certainly applicable when a people is in need of refuge. So is the more recent, and less triumphal, story of the Jewish experience in the 20th century, which saw every nation on earth shut its doors to desperate refugees until it was too late. (See “Refugee policy evolves.”)
As we join together at seder tables around the city and around the world, let us continue to invite the lessons of the past to illuminate our path to the future.
At moments during the holidays, we are encouraged to seek out the transcendent values in our traditions and integrate them into our lives so that we can make a better world. It is clear from the work being done to aid refugees that these values are already well entrenched in so many individuals and congregations. Let this Passover be a time of rededication for all of us to the values that welcome the stranger, show gratitude, celebrate freedom and hasten the world we seek.