The closing invocation of the traditional seder is l’shana ha-ba’ah b’Yerushalayim (“Next year in Jerusalem”). It’s sung to a rousing melody and can be quite moving and liberating especially after a long seder narrative. Barack Obama plans a White House seder tomorrow with his Jewish and African-American staff. I’d suggest a slogan that most of us can get behind: “Next year in a shared Jerusalem” (…Yerushalayim meshutefet).
Bibi’s seder is going to hear something quite different: “Next year in Sheikh Jarrah, next year in Ramat Shlomo, next year in a rebuilt Temple.” That tells you all you need to know about the difference between the kind of Jew Bibi is and the kind of Jew I am.
Our ancestors were slaves in Egypt who threw off the yoke of bondage through violent resistance to oppression. Their resistance earned them liberation, freedom and the right to live as free men and women in their own land. Their leader was an angry man who himself killed an Egyptian taskmaster, no doubt transforming him into a terrorist in his day in the eyes of the Egyptian Pharoah. Remind you of anyone? Not many Israelis are going to be thinking of this as they celebrate Passover seder. Not many Israelis ever think much about the Palestinians unless they’re forced to do so. And it’s a shame really.
Back in the day when this blog was young and no one read it, I wrote a long essay, The Life of Moses as an Allegory of Jewish Existence, about the character of Moses and his relationship to contemporary issues of Jewish identity. It makes good Passover reading. I’ve also written numerous Passover-themed posts to which I’ve devoted much thought and attention. You can recollect them in tranquility here.