Building on the immense success of last year, we are planning to present a Passover Seder for our congregation on April 11. For all UUs, this is an opportunity to expand cultural horizons. We will learn the rich history and deeply meaningful practices that shape this holy day. We will read from the Haggadah, learn the symbolism and the ancient songs, and the significance of the meal itself, all with the company of your fellow congregants and their families.
The Passover Committee is pleased to announce that Rabbi Miriam Hamrell of Ahavat Torah Congregation will be leading our Passover Seder this year. Rabbi Miriam E. Hamrell, MHL, MA Ed, holds the distinguished honor of being the first Israeli born and raised woman to head an American Jewish congregation for the past 17 years. She is a leading personality, spokesperson, and Ethicist for the Jewish community. Rabbi Miriam served in the Israeli Defense Forces and has consulted, taught, and inspired numerous women, not only with her volunteer prison work, but also her work on behalf of women around the world. This year, Rabbi Miriam celebrates her eighteenth year of service in the rabbinate and as a motivational leader and teacher, whose written and spoken messages express a unique wisdom.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Member of the House of Lords of the UK, an international religious leader, philosopher, and author, wrote these words about Passover:
There is a profound difference between history and memory. History is his story – an event that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is my story – something that happened to me and is part of who I am. To be a Jew is to know that over and above history is the task of memory. Judaism makes this a matter of religious obligation. Passover is where the past does not die but lives in the chapter we write in our own lives and in the story we tell our children. Once a year, every year, the Jewish people are asked to relive the experience of Egypt as a constant reminder of the bread of oppression and the bitter herbs of slavery – to know that the battle for freedom is never finally won but must be fought in every generation.
Honoring the Passover tradition also honors and aligns with the 7 UU Principles, especially the inherent worth and dignity of every person, acceptance of one another, encouragement of spiritual growth in our congregations, and respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Ellen Levy, committee member, writes:
I consider myself a Jewish Unitarian. I am a cultural Jew; that is, I was not raised with a religious background but with some of the cultural traditions of Judaism. One of these traditions is a Passover Seder, which connects us to Jews everywhere and throughout history. It celebrates our release from slavery from the Egyptians but is made relevant to modern times by recognizing the slavery that still exists in our world. I think it is important for our congregation to experience Passover because as Unitarians we honor all religions. Our children get some exposure to other religions and religious celebrations through RE, but as adults, we get very little. Especially now, with the surge of anti-Semitic feelings in the world, I think it is important for our congregation to see that many Jewish values are similar to Unitarian values and to experience the lovely ancient ceremony that is Passover.
Resa Foreman, also a committee member, was instrumental in bringing the Seder to UUSM last year. She says:
My family celebrated Passover at my grandparents’ house. Unfortunately they spoke no English and I no Yiddish. We were secular Jews and I had no religious training. It was not until I became an adult that I developed an appreciation for Passover, it’s rituals, and the broader, universal symbolism. It is a holiday that celebrates freedom from oppression and renewal. I am happy our committee has brought this tradition to UUSM.
We invite you to be a part of this tradition, to not only share the ancient story but also to see its relevance and importance in our lives today.
So please join us on Saturday, April 11, 2020, at 5pm in Forbes Hall for our UUSM Passover Seder. We are asking for $15 per person, or $30 per family to help cover expenses, plus come with a dish to share, keeping in mind the kosher guidelines. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Please sign up at the Adult RE table or online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/904084FAEA928A5F85-passover
If you have any questions, contact us, the Passover Committee Team: Resa Foreman, Ellen Levy, and Teri Lucas