by Sharon Rudoy Fishman
I am a Passover Baby. I was born on the second night of the second Seder, with no regard for the ones that were being conducted that night. Apparently, as my mom tells it, I gave rise to the Four Questions in the form of contractions. My family likes to think that I answered that eternal question “Why is this night different from all others?” with my arrival into the world. I think it’s fair to say, the holiday of Pesach has been intertwined into my identity and existence ever since.
Passover arrives at my favorite time of year- the Spring. Late March early April, the days leading up to the holiday perfectly match the themes and undertones of the Seder story. Like the season, Passover signals hope, rebirth, and renewal. As Jews enslaved in Egypt, we had hope that one liberation would come and it did, lead by Moshe and through divine providence, Hashem provided us with renewal, and a rebirth as a nation chosen, on its way to a promised land. As a long persecuted people, we have cycled through this order of accent throughout our history, culminating in our rebirth after the Holocaust and the founding of Israel.
During this time of year, we witness the life force of a gentler softer season taking root. Every emerging tulip, budding branch, and chirping bird that arrive as the calendar inches towards Passover, signals to us subtlety. Mother nature and her circadian rhythms orient us silently throughout the days, and unless you are keenly observant and attuned, we accent along with the cycle of the seasons. As a child, I remember my mom pointing out the “signs of spring” in our backyard and along walks. As a mom, I point them out now too. The Earth signals green with renewal, and it seems we we shake off the confines of a long winter with enthusiastic glee. It’s that spring in our step (yes pun intended;), we collectively feel as we embark upon the days of fresh air matched with soft ground. The warm promise of summer and the feeling of freedom it accompanies, sets into our head, and it is this mindset that sets us up for the perfect backdrop to our Festival Passover. When we synthesize this with the actual story of our people, Passover can be a very cathartic holiday!
Elie Wiesel once called Passover “the story of hope” and for good reason. We “pass over” the story of our Exodus and triumph of freedom over oppression, when we read from The Hagaddah, complete with its sacred rituals and blessings. Each Jew sitting around the Seder table is tasked with the obligation to regard themselves as having personally come out of Egypt. Doing so helps us appreciate the awesome miracle of our divine deliverance
With your family and friends by your side, we are given a great opportunity to take inventory of our own oppressors in our lives. Whatever (or whomever) they may be, if we can acknowledge and identify them, the process of our own personal liberation can begin. Ask yourself these questions, “Am I pursuing golden calves in my life or am I striving to serve a higher purpose?” “How am I serving Hashem?” “Am I on a path that will deliver me to the Promised Land”? Listen to your responses and reflect upon them. This is the time of year to reorient yourself and springboard off the momentum of the season and the holiday. Taking spiritual inventory and keeping your eyes open for the signs, can lead you to liberation from bondages you may not even be aware that you experience in your heart.
Passover comes at the most serendipitous time of year, take advantage of it! Apparently I did, when I experienced my own little liberation from womb to world that April 7th Seder a few decades ago. So to everyone out there, sitting around your Passover tables, when you recite “Next year in Jerusalem” I hope you do it do with all the hope and promise and time honored Passover wisdom that the holiday lends you. And may you and your loved share a happy, healthy, and liberating Chag Kosher Sameach!
Sharon Rudoy Fishman grew up in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania where she spent her childhood summers at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, with her two older sisters. She went to Penn State University where she studied Speech and Language Pathology and earned a Masters in Health and Behavioral Sciences from Columbia University. She works as a Behavioral Therapist and a Special Education Itinerant Teacher for St. Mary’s Hospital for Children where she is lucky enough to get to work and play with special kids with special needs. She resides in Great Neck, NY with her husband Akiva, their three kids Jonah, Jesse, and Joelle and their giant fur child Truman.