The blogosphere, my Facebook page and my Twitter feed are abuzz with people’s memories and testimonies of the 25th anniversary of the National March on Washington for Soviet Jewry. Twenty-five years ago today, approximately one quarter of a million people descended on the National Mall in Washington to call for the freedoms of an open society in what was then the U.S.S.R.
Every seder is a memory-making moment. Friends and family gather to read from the Haggadah, to eat matzah and drink wine. At our seders, we are a real “by the book” kind of family when retelling the story of the Israelites’ redemption from slavery and exodus from Egypt. Of course, my children will add a few words about a lesson learned in school or sing a new tune to an old song, but so many homes also add a contemporary twist to the seder text to raise awareness of a particular plight of a group of people – women’s rights, gender equality, labor issues, and the list goes on. This is something my family has never done.
So when I was presented with an invitation to attend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Justice Seder with Secretary Tom Vilsack, I accepted. The seder was held in partnership with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.
For so many of us, the seder is a multi-generational event. As I look around my own table, I sit in awe that there are three generations of men and women, boys and girls who participate.
For so many of us, the first night of Passover is all about filling the seder plate with symbolic foods, reading from the Hagaddah, drinking wine, eating matzah and partaking in a festive meal.
For so many of us, Passover is also a time for honoring our children by showcasing their school projects, showing gratitude for all those who helped organize and prepare for this night, and of course, for remembering the traditions of past generations. We marvel that we have made it to another seder with the strength and wherewithal to participate in this event that is more than an annual recollection or a commemoration, but an active re-enactment of our transition from enslavement to freedom.
If you’re among the Reform Jewish clergy, leaders, and activists who will be in Washington, D.C., this weekend to attend the annual J Street conference, we’ve got an invitation for you! We hope you’ll join the Religious Action Center and senior Reform Movement leadership at a casual reception on Sunday evening at the Old Dominion Brewhouse. Just like we did during the AIPAC conference earlier this month, we’ll take this opportunity to socialize with old friends and meet new ones – and we’ll also celebrate the Israel Religious Action Center‘s 25 years of successes and honor director Anat Hoffman’s 10 years with the organization. Hoffman will be one of the conference’s featured speakers and will join us for this Reform reception. Details are as follows:
The controversy around the defunding/refunding of Planned Parenthood by Susan G. Komen for the Cure can be described, among other things, as disappointing, outrageous, offensive, reckless, narrow-mind and short-sided. I’ll throw in another: heartbreaking.
A good friend of mine (who also happens to be a fabulous blogger) and a bunch of her fellow bloggers have committed themselves to make lifelong changes in 2012; “resolutions,” you might even call them. As she writes, “The difference here is that instead of setting lofty or ambiguous goals, each month, we’ll each focus on one smaller goal, building better habits that we’ll hopefully integrate into our lives.”
10 years is a long time, yet for so many of us, September 11, 2001 feels like yesterday. I know exactly where I was when the World Trade Center was hit. We held our regularly scheduled senior staff meeting at the RAC. While sitting around a table in the then-unnamed Sillins library, pagers went off with a breaking news story that smoke was billowing out of the World Trade Center – possibly because of a plane crash. All of a sudden, the office phone started ringing along with each of our cell phones, all with the same message: turn on the TV now! Within minutes, we watched the first tower fall, then the second. Reports of a plane crashing into the Pentagon were relayed and then the crashing of United Airlines flight 93. Images were replayed over and over (and over!) again… And we knew our world would never be the same…
Imagine: You’re at camp, surrounded by friends, and you’ve just had lunch. Or maybe you’re sitting with your relatives at a wedding, partaking in a celebratory meal. Or, you might be at home or synagogue, finishing a Shabbat meal with your family and friends. You finish eating, and together recite the words of Birkat Hamazon, the traditional Grace After Meals. Of course, you read the words V’achalta, v’savata u’varachta et Adonai Elohecha Al ha-Aretz Ha-Tova Asher Natan Lach. As it is written: And you shall eat, and you will be satisfied and you will bless G-d the Eternal for the good land which G-d has given you. (Numbers 8:10) Read in the context of the Birkat, v’savata (“and you will be satisfied”) seems to refer clearly to satiating your hunger.