Passover begins tonight at sundown, and as Jewish people all over the world prepare to celebrate being freed from slavery and oppression, I can’t help but feel an added responsibility to use this forum to draw a connection to what took place in Europe between 1933-1945.
It is difficult to get a clear understanding of what took place in Egypt since it happened so long ago, but what is clear was that the goal was to deprive all Jews of their freedom and ultimately destroy the very existence of the Jewish people.
Passover is a time of celebration. As a people we sit around the Seder and celebrate our freedom and our liberation from the oppressor whose sole purpose was to wipe us off the face of the earth. The similarity between the purpose of the Pharaoh and that of Hitler is almost eerily similar. Yet when we discuss the story of Passover we do so with a levity and comfort we do not have when discussing the Holocaust. The reasons are fairly obvious. The magnitude of the destruction done by Nazi Germany is clearly greater. Six million is a staggering, incomprehensible number. And the visual evidence and personal testimonials make it so real to all of us that it becomes more abhorrent and more painful to acknowledge. Even with this being so, the suffering of one person being forced to do slave labor, or the significance of the murder of one individual is just as important and meaningful when they are one of tens or hundreds of thousands as when they are one of six million. The value of their life is the same. Subsequently the value of a people being freed from either oppressor is just as significant and liberating.
It has always been my personal feeling that regardless of what part of history inspires us on a day we celebrate freedom, we must use this day to not only celebrate it, but appreciate it as well. For if there is one thing we must learn from the more recent suffering, is that we should never take our freedom and even survival for granted. And the lesson we learn from sitting down and having a Seder where we tell the story of Passover is that we must never forget what happened, and that the best way to accomplish this is to tell the story.
I wish all of my fellow Jews a Happy Passover, and a Happy Easter to all of you who will be celebrating this Sunday.