by Shira Taylor Gura

Dear children,

Passover is approaching.  And with that, the excitement and craziness that come along with the holiday preparations.  And in the midst of all this, I got to thinking, if I could choose one thing, just one thing, to “pass on” to you regarding Passover, what would it be?

And within seconds, I had my answer.

Yet, interestingly, I realized that this answer would not have been the same answer had I asked myself the same question last year, or five years ago, or even 13 years ago when you, Ayalah, my eldest was just born.

In the past, I would have said something about family, tradition and freedom, either overlapping the themes in an illustrated Venn diagram or representing them in concentric circles with tradition probably coming into a close first.

But, something changed.

And it was due to my unexpected hospitalization on our recent trip back to America.

Where I contracted a random infection in which apparently 1 in 3 people die.

And I survived.

It was a miracle.

Just like in the story of Passover.


It was there, while I lay in a very constricted place in a hospital bed in the I.C.U. scared out of my mind, when one of my beloved rabbis came to visit and advised me to “talk to Hashem”.

“Really,” he continued.  “Just speak to G-d.  Like you’re having a conversation.  Tell Him your fears.  Ask of Him.  But, above all, just speak to Him.”

Now, up until that time in the hospital, or frankly ever in my life, had anyone ever come close to suggesting to me to talk with G-d.

Not in the home I grew up in. Not at the Jewish camp, youth group, or Hebrew school I attended. Not in college.  Never.

The education that I received was more knowledge based, like learning how to read from a Hebrew prayer book, knowing how to celebrate the Jewish holidays, etc.

But, never ever, was there an emphasis on having a personal relationship with G-d.

And therefore, this concept of talking to G-d was quite foreign to me.

But, I gave it a try.

I figured at the time, what did I really have to lose?

I wasn’t doing much else in that hospital room anyway.

And after having that first conversation with G-d (ok, it wasn’t talking, it was more like begging for life), I found myself talking to G-d again.

In the hospital room.

In my parent’s house during my recuperation.

And later on in my Kibbutz Hannaton home, when I returned back to Israel.

Because I felt comforted.

And safe.

And that I was being heard.

And most importantly because I felt that I deeply wanted to have a personal relationship with G-d.

Something I never had before in the past.

And with that, my frame of reference in life shifted.

Realizing that everything I do and create comes from G-d.

That it is because of G-d that I am alive at this very moment.

That without G-d, there would be no Passover.

Or Family.

Or Tradition.

Or Freedom.

That, in the end, G-d comes before everything else.


This is the conclusion I came to about six months ago (even at the ripe old age of 40) and it something that I still maintain today.

And this, my dear children, is what I want to pass on to you.

I love this holiday and look forward to it every year, just as you do.

I cherish being with family.

I appreciate the songs and the traditions and the foods.

I extremely value being reminded of and talking about slavery and freedom.

But above all of this, way above all of this…

is that I believe in G-d.

The G-d

Who brought us out of Egypt,

And Who saved us from enslavement,

And Who delivered us,

And Who took us as a nation.

And Who plays a role in all the miracles you experience in your daily lives.

And Who is constantly with each of you today, never forsaking you even for a moment.

And when you know and believe that, you, too will be able to create a real life relationship with G-d.

Shira Taylor Gura, originally from Cherry Hill, made aliyah to Israel in 2009.  She lives on Kibbutz Hannaton with her husband and four children. Beyond mothering, freelancing, and teaching yoga, she writes a blog (Stuck in the Muck) relating mindfulness to personal life experiences. You can find her blog here: