Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whose Passover Is It Anyway?

י"ח לחודש הראשון תשע"ג

My friend Sam Sokol sent me this piece he wrote on the Obama's tradition of holding a Passover Seder. He did a great job of reporting in this piece.

My commentary, and criticism, is of the Obamas and others.

JPost: White House Seder Continuation Of Chicago Tradition

Sam Sokol, March 26, 2013

US president, family, friends celebrate Passover dinner with Seder, the “continuation of a longstanding custom” for the Obamas.
White House "Seder" 2013
Photo: Pete Souza/White House
The White House tradition of holding a Passover Seder, started by US President Barack Obama in 2009 during his first term, is the continuation of a longstanding Obama family tradition, according to interfaith advocate Rabbi Marc Schneier.*

Schneier is the president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and a vice president of the World Jewish Congress.

*Rabbi Schneier, a graduate of Yeshiva University, needs to go back and review Rabbi Yosef Soleveichik's teshuvoth (responsa) regarding "interfaith dialogue," and not just find ways to support doing what he wants, like his fellow YU alumus, Shlomo Riskin.

The White House Seders, he said, are the “continuation of a longstanding custom” by the Obamas who participated in Seders in their hometown of Chicago.

“In fact, Obama began observing Passover after moving in the mid 1980s to the mixed Jewish-African American Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, where he taught law at the University of Chicago, launched his political career and formed close personal relationships with a broad spectrum of Jewish academics, political professions and even rabbis.”

Last week in Jerusalem, Obama explained that Passover resonates with African Americans because to his community “the story of the Exodus was perhaps the central story, the most powerful image to emerge from the grip of bondage to reach liberty and human dignity – a tale that was carried from slavery through the Civil Rights movement into today."

The Obamas’ ceremony on Monday included a Seder plate given to first lady Michelle Obama by Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Before the holiday, the president issued a statement of hope. “As my family and I prepare to once again take part in this ancient and powerful tradition, I am hopeful that we can draw upon the best in ourselves to find the promise in the days that lie ahead, meet the challenges that will come, and continuing the hard work of repairing the world.


Esser Agaroth (2¢):
I found several things in this piece interesting. Although this it is well-known that the African slaves drew inspiration from the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt, I always found it curious that these shared historical experiences did not bring African Americans and Jewish Americans closer together. Likewise, South African Jews who fought against the apartheid government were, for the most part, neither considered white by the whites, nor non-white by the non-whites, and were often

M. L. King, M. Eisendrath, A. J. Heschel
There was a small space in time, when African and Jewish Americans did seem to connect, and that was through Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only did Jews march with him and his cause.

So, did African Americans never appear to relate fully with Jewish Americans, through the common experience of having been slaves, and oppressed throughout history in various other ways?

Well, every time I broached this question with African American friends, the answer was always the same: Slavery for those of African decent was really not so long ago, still too fresh in their collective mind, in contrast to the 1,000's of years passed since Israel's exodus.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had it right. When approached by a student who attacked Zionism, Dr. King responded:

“When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism.”

Jews are meant to be in their homeland. Criticize our right to be here, and criticize us. That is what is supposed to be a crucial element to President Obama's above reference to "repairing the world," restoring the Jewish People to its homeland. And, no, there is no room here for those who would take all of it for themselves, and annihilate us.

PA "President" Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) wants ALL of Israel
Unfortunately, President Obama does not seem to understand this.

Do you want to use Passover as an inspiration for your own personal experiences?


Many Christians use the Seder has an educational tool. Yet, many other Christians have incorporated it into their liturgy for the purposes of laying claim to the inheritance of Israel or reaching out to Jews, targeting them for conversion, or both. This is unacceptable.

Also unacceptable are those like the Obamas, who make a so-called "Passover Seder," while at the same time collaborate in maintaining the current exile of the Jewish People. That includes funding Islamic, or soon to be Islamic, governments and pseudo-governments.

From Jews News
So-called "Palestinians" want a "freedom" in another people's homeland. Yet, this is what they do at a Passover Seder, a celebration of freedom.

Those who bless Israel will be blessed, those who curse Israel will be cursed. (based on Gen. 12:3)

President Obama has demonstrated time and time again which of these paths he is on (Hint: Not the former, but the latter).

Jews in America must also take a lesson from this. Obama's Jewish staffers should first take a look at what a real Passover Seder is all about.

Rabbis not encouraging an exit from the current galuth, the galuth of Edom (Esau/Rome/The West), rabbis who are finding new and innovative ways for Jews to become closer with their non-Jews in galuth for the same of making it more comfortable for Jews to remain in galuth, are part of the problem, not the solution.

We Jews our taught that during the Seder, we are reliving our own exodus from Egypt, for if the exodus had not taken place, then we, ourselves, would have been born into Egyptian slavery.

Yet, the exodus from Egypt is also directly relevant to today. Although many Jews cannot, or do not want to, realize it, they are again in galuth, and must make another exodus from it.

After all, whose Passover is it anyway?

It's yours.


**Arabic and Hebrew (colloq.) - "cool"


Yakov Butterfield said...

After making Aliyah from Los Angeles, I have found that Pesach (Passover) in Jerusalem can be completely different. First: attend Yeshivah to learn everything about Pesach and then explain to your family that Spring cleaning is not Pesach cleaning. Second: cook as much as you can the week before the Seder and relax. Third: take turns reading and relax.

Esser Agaroth said...

Thanks for writing, Yakov. Good points!

It seems that this other post may also be up your alley:

When Passover Became A Holiday Again

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