Happy Passover from Palestine
In 2022, Jews in Israel and around the world will celebrate Passover beginning on April 16. Passover is the seven-day holiday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, commemorating the ancient Hebrews’ escape from enslavement in Egypt. Ancient Hebrews may have set themselves free, but modern-day Hebrews remain enslaved like no other — shackled to military occupation, to a society built on militarism, hate, denial, and above all, a deep sense of superiority that is witnessed as racism in its rawest form.
I extend my hand to help this damaged community free itself once and for all.
As I’m learning, the Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a traditional ceremonial meal. Its centerpiece is a special Seder plate containing six symbolic foods, each having a particular significance in the retelling of the story of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. The stack of three matzos, or unleavened bread, a kind of cracker made of plain white flour and water, has its separate plate on the Seder table.
For each of the six traditional items on the Seder plate — listed here by its Hebrew name — I note its traditional symbolic role and offer an additional, alternative interpretation. I hope my alternative can help Jews around the world, and especially in Israel, connect with a broader perspective on the meaning of Passover right here, right now, in the land assumed by many as the endpoint of that ancient exodus.
Maror — Bitter herbs symbolize the bitterness and harshness of the slavery that Jews endured in Egypt.
Slavery: severe curtailment of one’s freedom. Today, Israel’s jackboot of dispossession and military occupation presses harder than ever before on the necks of an entire people. Particularly horrific, two million Palestinians in Gaza continue to taste the bitterness of freedom denied, hermetically sealed in their encircled enclave with no end in sight. Over forty-seven percent are under the age of 18. The Jewish citizens of Israel have hardened their hearts to this reality, and they have expected the rest of the world to do likewise. For how long will you wait for Palestinians to vanish?