Refugee crisis A Passover lesson

In News by MIIC

John Woods / The Canadian Press Files Migrants from Somalia cross into Canada from the United States at Emerson. Jewish organizations are hosting Refugee Seders during Passover to bring awareness to the world’s refugee crisis.

At the start of Passover, which begins this year on Monday evening, Jewish people customarily sit down at their seder tables to discuss themes of slavery and liberation, while celebrating the Hebrew exodus from Egypt circa 1446 BC.

In 2017, however, it would seem both out of touch and indifferent to speak about that event without also talking about current events and recognizing the millions worldwide who are enslaved, homeless and seeking refuge.

The Jewish people, who share a collective genetic memory of persecution and exile stretching from biblical times to the 20th century, have a particular obligation to recognize the suffering of others. The Torah instructs its followers 36 different times to help the stranger living among them, simply because, as Jews, they know what it is like to feel unwanted and unwelcome.

The Passover Haggadah, which is the holiday’s instructional text for the festive seder meal, reinforces this idea with the directive that every Jew should “see himself or herself as though he or she personally came forth from Egypt.”

“Passover is an important time in the Jewish calendar and plays a strong role in Jewish culture and psyche,” says Morgan Buras Finlay, a spokeswoman for Right Now: Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel, a human rights organization.

“At Passover, we identify strongly with being strangers in a strange land and our story of exodus, journey and refuge.”

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