For those of you who are Jewish and know enough Hebrew– Hag Sameach, happy holiday. For everyone, happy Passover, which to me means spring and a time to celebrate and reflect on the goodness of life and the importance of and hope for liberation– successful liberation efforts for all people.
We were guests at a wonderful first night of Passover seder (the dinner and telling of the Passover story that you do yourselves in yours or someone else’s home) last night. Two women who I love and who love us and the three of us and 16 other people ranging in age from 90 to my daughter’s age of 8– as the youngest. She is on spring break right now and yesterday I left her with a friend who is a native Spanish speaker– and who has known my daughter since she was 8 months old. Now she is 8 years old and when I left they were speaking Spanish with each other, as she does with many people now. Then last night, after just a few months of religious school– she chanted the Four Questions– part of the Passover service– in Hebrew, and took her turn reading aloud from the Haggadah– the Passover story, in English. She was nervous beforehand, but ready to do it, and beaming and proud and I couldn’t have been any prouder of her. I mean I could not have been any prouder of her! I don’t do things like remember to videotape her big moment, but there she was, where she belongs, right at the center of things.
As I find I often write here, this is more update and less the short pieces or longer pieces I would like to write about the meaning of Passover to me, the troubling things about the state of things in Israel and Gaza and the West Bank right now; the troubling and often unseen state of Jewish oppression as it still operates in the world; the meaning of family and what it is like to live so far from home, from my mother and sister and nephews and the rest of the family– not the piece I want to write about the meaning being so lovingly wrapped up with some of my chosen family members– or about what I think about the fact that my daughter has such a beautiful and yet unusual extended family, and takes such a beautiful space in the midst of all of them. Not the reflections about how she has often to navigate often being the only person of color around (she was not the only, last night). But consider this a place marker for more discussion and writing on all of the above.
If you are Jewish or connected to Jews and Judaism, have a very happy Passover week. If you are neither, I welcome you to find a way to be sure to be part of a Jewish seder sometime– and to think this week about liberation– your own and that of others in the world. To quote someone no longer living, but who taught me a great portion of what I currently know or understand about the work of ending oppression and of liberation– the only right-minded attitude is “always pleased, never satisfied.” By this I think he meant that we have many victories and acts of principle and humanness, many accomplishments and moments of courage to celebrate. We can be pleased with ourselves and the work we have done so far. And we don’t get to be satisfied until the job is done– until every person is free and the world set right in every corner.
We are off this afternoon– the three of us, to another city to meet my old friend L, who has traveled from the West Coast with one of her daughters– we will have an adventure together, carry our matzoh and eat it instead of bread and celebrate being family all together and when we come home, my sister and her oldest son will come visit from still another city and our home will be even more home with them in it.