Shabbat & Passover

This Friday night we have the double joy of Shabbat and Passover.  Almost all American Jews observe Passover to some extent.  Most Jews avoid the five grains specifically prohibited in Torah: wheat, oat, spelt, rye, and barley.  For some it’s simply coming together with families and friends and sharing a seder meal together.

I believe this holiday is so popular because it is rich in rituals and is designed to create memories.  It is a celebration of freedom, something that resonates in every age.

I’ve introduced you to some of the wise words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, may his memory be a blessing.  Here is a teaching of Rabbi Heschel that is relevant to our Passover holiday of liberation.  He spoke these words as he addressed the National Conference on Race and Religion, in Chicago, in 1963.  At that time he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, who became his partner in working for equality and justice. In his remarks, Rabbi Heschel reminds us that “the figures of Pharaoh and Moses remain important models in a world where far too many people still yearn for liberation.” (Rabbi Or Rose)

Rabbi Heschel said, “At the first conference on religion and race, the main participants were Pharaoh and Moses. The outcome of that summit meeting has not come to an end. Pharaoh is not ready to capitulate. The Exodus began, but is far from having been completed.”

Our seder table is the best place for us to reconfirm the importance of advocating for the freedom of all people.  As Martin Luther King Jr said, “No one is free until we are all free.” Our holiday of freedom inspires us to aspire to the legacies of Heschel and King.  (For more information:

May this holiday and these heroes awaken within us our compassion for those around the world who are suffering from tyranny and oppression.

Chag Pesach Sameach – Happy Passover Holiday.  May your holiday be as sweet as charoset!  Get ready and in the mood for Pesach, with Six13 – Uptown Passover (An “Uptown Funk” for Pesach).

Rabbi Debbie Israel