As Passover is just days away, I want to take a few minutes and share some reflections. This year has been both challenging and rewarding in ways I could not have foreseen when we last opened our Haggadahs.
The Covid pandemic, while not yet in the rearview mirror, is evolving into a new normal. People continue to be infected, but thanks to vaccines and medications, most of us will be able to recover. This year, our seder table with be full once again with old and new friends.
Sadly, antisemitism continues to rise. In the past year, our community locally has seen flyers littering people’s homes, banners defacing interstates and bridges. Most recently, the incidents escalated to trespassing and vandalizing homes in Sylvan Park with swastikas and hate speech. I too, live in the neighborhood. Seeing the swastikas and other hate messages made me sick and I will not forget the sight of my husband, the son of Holocaust survivors, visibly shaken at the sight. Homeowners at one of the vandalized homes responded by inviting the community to participate in a cleanup of the hateful graffiti. And what resulted was an outpouring of support, love, and unity.
And recently, I was privileged to witness the reunion of an Afghan family with a father/brother/son who had been left behind. After a year of hiding from the Taliban, thanks to the support of The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville, and many, many volunteers, this brave soul was rescued and brought to freedom right here in Nashville. The scene at the airport when he finally was able to hug his family will remain with me forever.
When we retell the Passover story, we talk about liberation from slavery in Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt, mitzrayim, means “a narrow place.” We read about our people escaping the narrowness of slavery for the freedom of the desert. The events of this past year make me think about that notion of traveling from the narrowest of places to freedom. Facing antisemitism, evading death threats, and suffering from Covid feel like those narrow places. But vaccines, community embrace, and in the case of the Afghan family, literal freedom, are liberation.
This year, when we sit down with our loved ones to the seder table, let us all think about the challenges we faced, the liberation that comes from getting through, and reflect on the stories yet to be written. I am always grateful for the opportunity to tell the stories of our community through this newspaper. I try never to take for granted the richness of our lives, and the gifts that you all share in these pages.
May you all have a joyous, meaningful, and happy Passover.