Passover is my favorite holiday and it is not because of my love of matzo. It is a time we welcome family, friends and include those who have never before experienced the wonder of a Seder. For me, the Seder is what makes Passover special. It is when we gather to celebrate the story of freedom and so many other universal values we share and hold dear.
It is during the Seder we open the door for Elijah to symbolically invite in a stranger to join us for our Passover meal. It is not simply about welcoming a stranger, but an act that teaches us the importance of seeking out others to create personal connections, share a great meal, sweet wine and lively conversation.
Why is this theme of welcoming others to our Seder repeated so often during the reading of the Hagaddah? Awardwinning author Dr. Erica Brown, the director for adult education at the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning wrote recently: "Probably because it's human to forget how a newlysettled immigrant, a new neighbor or employee, a new spouse or a new mom or dad can feeland not just at the tablewe need little reminders. It is we who make people strange to us, estranged from us. It is we who have the power to make strangers friends."
No matter which part of the Seder you relate to, whether you are a guest or a host, we hope that this year's Passover Seder is a catalyst for you, as it is for us at the Federation, to bring Jewish values to life, celebrate freedom and remember those who have not yet become free. It is a time to commit ourselves to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and make it a better place for all people.
Chag Sameach - Happy Passover.
President & CEO