From Alicia Chandler, Board President

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 4:12pm -- lauren

Passover is my favorite holiday. From when I was in elementary school, I took responsibility for writing the family Haggadah. It has morphed many times over the years. Now, we gather in my basement with face masks and puppets, singing songs to tunes including "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "I'm a Little Teapot" as we remember our journey out of slavery thousands of years ago.

But the importance of Passover took on renewed meaning for me last month as I had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. At the start of the tour, you descend many stories below ground level. There, are the artifacts and stories of the horror of the slave trade which occurred in comparatively recent history. Walking through that bottom floor, I felt the same tightness in my chest as I felt walking through Majdanek or Birkenau, mourning the lives taken or destroyed because of a horrific belief that some group of people was less than worthy of equality or freedom or even life itself.

As you rise up through the levels of the museum, you feel the march towards freedom through the abolitionist movement, through the civil rights movement and then through the multitudes of accomplishments of African Americans to our nation. But, as we know, the journey from slavery to equality is unfinished. This is why we tell the story of Passover each year and this is why we faithfully teach it to our children. As a people, we left Egypt seeking freedom. But freedom was not truly waiting for us on the far shore of the Red Sea. It has been a journey across 40 years in the desert, and the next 5,000 years in which freedom is found and then lost, taken and then given back.

The story of Passover is our story, but it also is a universal story. This was never more evident than at the recent kickoff for the Coalition of Black and Jewish Unity when our black brothers and sisters spoke eloquently about Passover and the journey to freedom. This Passover, may we all pray for freedom and equality for all Jews around the world and for all peoples - including those in our own nation - who are seen as less than worthy of equality or freedom.

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