Although I am not an observant Jew, I never fail to be moved by the messages of Passover, a holiday that started Friday April 6. In fact, it’s my favorite holiday, secular or religious, perhaps because the universality of the messages about liberation and social justice allow me to find congruence between my cultural/religious life and my professional life and beliefs. I enjoy participating in the Passover Seder (which means “order”in Hebrew) and reading at the Seder from the Haggadah (which means “the telling”) each year because it is the only religious holiday I know that focuses on the importance of liberation from oppression. Not just for Jews (at least in the contemporary Haggadah that we use) but for all people. And we are asked to think about what oppression exists in our modern times, not just in ancient Egypt, and what each of us as individuals can do to create freedom from oppression, for ourselves, yes, but even more importantly, for others. The Passover message also asks participants to welcome strangers into our homes and to our tables. For me, who has worked for so many years to find a better way to help homeless people, this has particular resonance. UNH’s focus on helping those in need, including immigrants, low-income people, homeless people, those who are frail or ill, feels like an extension of the core Passover values. And I don’t mind the matzo ball soup either!
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