14 April 2014

Passover Message

14 April 2014
14 Nisan 5774

Dear Friends,

With another Spring upon us and Brooklyn in bloom, we gather at communal tables this evening to celebrate Passover and tell our people's redemptive story from servitude and liberation and praise.

For generations this telling has animated our existence.  In tasting the matza and maror, we embody not just the remembrance but the experience of slavery's restrictions on the human spirit.  In lifting up our cups of wine, however, we also claim that we are to "revere, extol, acclaim, adore and glorify God who for our ancestors and for us took us from slavery to freedom, from despair to joy, from mourning to celebration, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption."

The promise is in the telling.  In the telling there is the reification of the covenant that even in the darkest times there is hope.  And in the journey from Egypt to Sinai--from the idolatrous servitude toward a cruel master to the sublime devotion through Torah, Prayer and Deeds of Loving Kindness--we have sustained ourselves and will continue to sustain ourselves for all time.

Our hearts are heavy this evening as we offer prayers of comfort to the families in Kansas City who fell victim to the cruel violence of a madman.  "In every generation," the Hagadah reminds us, there will be those who rise up in hatred.  The suspect in the shooting had been tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, an organization our CBE high school students visited in March on our Civil Rights tour.  It is humbling and chilling to realize that such hatreds remain and a sobering reminder of the work that remains for us all.  Our task, our role in this world, is to remain ever vigilant as well as a beacon of hope and light for our own people and all humankind.  This is Elijah's hope. This is the Cup of Redemption.

In a world with so much need, with individuals and families seeking material, spiritual and emotional sustenance, we must always offer this Cup of Hope.  We offer this cup to those who are hunger and in need of shelter; to those whose spirits are broken and require our love and support in community each Shabbat; and we offer this cup to those seeking a connection to the Jewish story, a way in, to join us on the sacred journey.

From our brothers and sisters seeking to live in peace in Israel to our community and neighbors here in Brooklyn, the Hagadah exhorts that this night is a "season of liberation."  So it may be.  May our efforts bring us that much closer to peace.  May our efforts bring us that much closer to eradicating hunger and homelessness.  May our efforts bring healing to the hearts of those in need.  And may our historic community in Brooklyn at Congregation Beth Elohim remain a sanctuary of goodness and kindness for all who seek a meaningful connection to our Jewish tradition.

In these endeavors, may we "soar with arms like eagle's wings and run with the gentle grace of swiftest deer."  And may each of you blessed with good health and joy in this season of liberation.

Hag Sameach.

Rabbi Andy Bachman

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