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Love and Matzah

Sunday, April 14, 2019
Posted by: Rabbi Samantha Safran, Director, Bobbi & Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living and Learning

Love and MatzahJoin a nationwide initiative to invite two strangers to your table this Passover.

Hosting guests in our homes can often feel like an overwhelming task. We need to devise a menu, shop for ingredients, cook a meal, and clean up. On the holiday of Passover, hosting can be even more daunting because there is the added element of planning and leading a Seder. And yet, opening our homes is one of the most significant and impactful ways to observe Passover. 

Our Haggadah, the ritual book that guides us through the Seder, instructs us to recite these words at the Seder’s opening each year: “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” Lest I should argue that I myself, along with my family and friends, am hungry and therefore it is enough to surround my table with only those close to me, Maimonides, the great Jewish thinker, taught that during the holiday of Passover, “One who locks the door of his courtyard, eating and drinking with his children and wife but not including the stranger, the orphan, the widow and others, is not observing a religious celebration but is merely indulging in the celebration of his stomach.” 

It’s not easy to invite a stranger to our table, especially one who is not familiar with a Seder. There are many unknowns—will this person feel comfortable with my other guests? Will this person eat my food? Will this person be able to follow the rituals? We can quickly talk ourselves out of it. But when we do that, we also talk ourselves out of an opportunity—an opportunity for connection, for education, and for building community. 

2 for SederRecent events have taught us that anti-Semitism and baseless hatred are on the rise in our country and around the world, and that we are very much in need of connection, education and building community. 2 for Seder is an initiative to fill this need. Spearheaded by those who lost family in the Pittsburgh tragedy, it aims to de-mystify Judaism and the Jewish people one meal at a time. How? By calling on us to invite two people to our Seder who have never attended one before

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes: “I used to think that the most important line in the Bible was “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Then I realised that it is easy to love your neighbour because he or she is usually quite like yourself. What is hard is to love the stranger, one whose colour, culture or creed is different from yours. That is why the command, “Love the stranger because you were once strangers,” resonates so often throughout the Bible. It is summoning us now... Wars that cannot be won by weapons can sometimes be won by the sheer power of acts of humanitarian generosity to inspire the young to choose the way of peace instead of holy war. 

We at the J invite you to choose the “way of peace” this year. Join 2 for Seder in asking two strangers to your Seder. Not hosting a Seder? Invite two strangers to join you at whatever Seder you are attending. In so doing, may we move one step closer to breaking down the barriers that divide us, and may we sincerely say this year, “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” 

Wishing you and your loved ones a chag kasher v’sameach, a happy Passover holiday. 

Sincerely, 

Rabbi Samantha

 

Category: CJLL

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