Rabbi's Message: March 2015

Rachel Gurevitz
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

Celebrating Passover 50 years after Selma

The Jewish festival of Freedom - Passover - arrives on Friday evening, April 3rd this year. At the beginning of this month of March, many will be assembling in Selma to commemorate and reenact the march from Selma to Montgomery that was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 50 years ago. If you have not yet seen the movie, Selma, I highly commend it as a way of ensuring that younger generations know this history. This year at CBS, we will have opportunities to learn about Jewish connections to the Civil Rights movement at both our Women’s Kallah on March 14th, led by Etta King from the Jewish Women’s Archive on ‘Leading a Life of Action’ and at our Women’s Seder on March 26th.

Each of us can make this year’s Passover Seder into an opportunity to learn about this relatively recent part of America’s history while retelling our own Freedom story. We retell the Exodus narrative every year not simply to perform a ritual or remind ourselves of a ‘once upon a time’ story. Bringing family or friends together at Passover can be transformed into a meaningful and powerful experience when we imagine ourselves in that narrative and consider who we would be in the story. Would we be Shifra and Puah, quietly but effectively working against Pharaoh’s plan? Would we be Moses, the reluctant leader who knows that he must step up and speak out to free his people? Would we be Miriam, with faith in the future, inspiring others along the journey with spirit and song? Would we be the questioning Hebrew, wishing to be free but anxious about what lies ahead? If we can explore our freedom story in this way, as if we were there, it is just one more step to then ask ourselves who we are in today’s freedom stories. Where are people still suffering, lacking in true freedom? Where do we see inequalities at play in our society today and what is our responsibility to speak out and take action?

Many of us receive a call to action through a charitable organization we support, or a local school that invites its students to get involved in a local action. As Reform Jews, we are part of a national network of advocates all connected through the Religious Action Center. Just visit http://www.rac.org/civilrights to get a few ideas of how we can speak through the inspiration of our faith on many issues that still face our country. From February 27-March 1st our Confirmation class will be doing just this at the RAC’s ‘L’Taken Seminar’ (l’taken means ‘to repair’). They will learn with hundreds of other teens from across the country and then prepare to lobby in the offices of our Congress and Senate representatives on issues of justice that matter to them. This year, as we all prepare for Passover, let our ritual preparations inspire all of us to take real action in our world and ‘Let Freedom Ring’!

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz