Apr 12, 2024  Category: Education,

Hebrew Month of Nissan: Passover and the Search of Freedom for Jews

Hebrew Month of Nissan

Nissan is the first month on Jewish calendar (according to the Torah), and coincides with March-April on the civil calendar. In Nissan we celebrate Passover, commemorating the anniversary of our miraculous Exodus from Egyptian slavery, as told in the Bible.

When Jewish people recite the story of Passover, they recall that Pharaoh’s ignorance and hate led him to enslave the Israelites. They remember Moses and Aaron advocating for their people’s freedom, and the strength and determination shown in the face of uncertainty when freedom was finally won. They eat food that symbolizes not only the Israelites’ pain but the pain of those who suffered around them during the fight for freedom. And they sing to echo the joy felt at the moment of liberation before stepping forward towards the hope of a better life.

Retelling the Story of Passover in the Face of Antisemitism

“B’chol dor v’dor omdim aleinu l’chaloteinu." Perhaps the very fact that "In every generation they rise against us to destroy us,” is what has stood by us and given us the strength to persevere. The rise of antisemitism in USA and around the world is frightening. As we retell the story of Passover, we remember that antisemitism is an evil we have endured throughout the ages. As Jews, we must recognize and fight discrimination together, united as one against this constant threat to our heritage, our humanity and our existence.

The history of the Jewish people, during and long after the events of Passover, reflects the strength required to leave one’s home in search of freedom, safety and security, and the hardship, and sometimes bigotry, one often faces in a new land. They know from their experience in Egypt, and for the thousands of years since, how it feels to be persecuted, to seek refuge, and to continue to face hate.

Perhaps the very fact that “In every generation they rise against us to destroy us,” is what has stood by us and given us the strength to persevere. Antisemitism, and the fact that we have survived through all the suffering and persecution, bears testimony to the Almighty’s watchful eye which continues to guide us through our providential mission on earth.

Jews and non-Jews alike have marveled at our miraculous survival. Our tiny nation’s continuity, while all the greatest empires of the world have come and gone, remains a powerful confirmation that there is a Higher Power ensuring our survival and our destiny.

The Core of Jewish Values

The Passover story of liberation is at the core of Jewish values, a fight against antisemitism and for freedom from persecution. Jews know what it is to be vulnerable and understand the need to speak out for themselves and for others who are marginalized. Let us all embrace the lessons of this holiday’s story by working to fight antsemitism and to support all those seeking freedom from persecution.

It appears that as repugnant as antisemitism may be, in a strange, perverse sort of way it may have contributed to the stubborn determination of Jews over many generations to identify Jewishly, stand up for their convictions, and live by the principles of our faith no matter what.

Finding the Light in Nissan

So, when you sing Vehi Sheamdah at your Passover Seder this year, instead of bemoaning our enemies’ hatred for us, find the positive side. Vehi - this very hostility and the never-ending attempts at our annihilation have only served to strengthen our resolve to remain steadfastly Jewish. Indeed, it has stood us well.

Next year in Jerusalem...