Lag B'Omer - the 33rd day between Pesach and Shavuot- is a little-known Jewish holiday that celebrates (among other things) the cessation of a divinely-sent plague that resulted from people not showing one another adequate respect. It is celebrated with bonfires, and for the religious, a cessation in the semi-mourning practices observed throughout the Post-Passover Omer period. In Israel, on Lag B'Omer, a pall of smoke hovers over the city of Jerusalem from all the bonfires being set throughout the city.
Today, it feels as though mourning is the proper mood. The plague we suffer is one of racism, violence and destruction. "Price tag" - the practice of destroying and vandalizing the property not only of Palestinians, but of Christians, and of those who work for peace on the left, has continued to increase.
The holiday of Passover celebrates the redemption of a people from slavery- a story of redemption not only for Jews, but for many people who yearn for justice and freedom. Yet, there are still injustices to be overturned. A full glass of wine symbolizes complete joy, and during the Seder, we spill wine from our cup to remember the suffering of others that accompanied our redemption. Traditionally, we then recite the ten plagues; this year, we list ten modern plagues (starting with settlement expansion)- those that we have yet to overcome.
Each year at Passover, Jews read this line in the haggadah, "In every generation a person is obligated to see themselves as if they had left Egypt." Why? Because each of us should understand that in our generation, just as in our ancestors' generation, the status quo is not inevitable. Societies founded on inequality, on domination of others, on ruling those who do not wish to be ruled cannot, in the arc of history, last. In every generation there is a wrong to be righted. Today, it is in our hands to right it.
This year, you can add flavor to your seder by sharing this thoughtful reflection by Rabbi Toba Spitzer. Rabbi Spitzer, who is the recipient of Americans for Peace Now’s 2015 Elizabeth Wyner Mark Peace Award, has graciously contributed our 14th haggadah insert. In it, she reminds us of the costs for freedom, and asks us to make an honest reckoning, an acknowledgment, and perhaps a commitment to make some kind of repair to those who are affected by the privileges we enjoy.
Since 2001, Americans for Peace Now has asked rabbis from the extended APN family to contribute reflections on the haggadah: that story which has for centuries been understood as the archetype of liberation. Many of us have made these reflections a permanent part of our seder - we hope you will, too. You can find them here.
May we all enjoy a sweet and liberating Passover,
President and CEO,
Americans for Peace Now
Submitted by Rabbi Toba Spitzer (2015)
Rabbi Spitzer is recipient of Americans for Peace Now’s 2015 Elizabeth Wyner Mark Peace Award
To be read just before the recitation of the ten plagues.
Sunday, March 15th, 11:30am at Westmoreland Congregational UCC
APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin spoke with Ambassador Warren Clark, Commissioner Mai Abdulrahman, with the panel moderated by Alton Frye.
The Torah forbids the cutting down of fruitful trees, even during a time of war. The basis for this law appears in the book of Deuteronomy, with the verse adding rhetorically, “Is the tree of the field a man that you should make war upon it?”
Recently, many were dismayed to discover (as reported in the
Forward and +972) that
the iconic photo of two young boys, seemingly an Israeli-Jewish child and a Palestinian-Muslim child, was a
posed photo taken for the Canadian magazine Maclean’s.
Yes, that photo was staged, but there's no need to indulge in the despairing laments echoing around the internet: there are plenty of real pictures, of real people - Palestinian and Israeli (and two Jewish-Americans, in day five's picture - APN's own Lara Friedman, and in day seven's picture, APN Founder Mark Rosenblum), Jewish, Christian, and Muslim - working for a brighter future. In the spirit of Chanukah, we shared a picture a day on Facebook and twitter for each of the eight days of Chanukah - - of real, genuine partners for peace.
Well, the internet exploded: hundreds of shares, thousands of likes. It seems that there is a hunger for hope.
your help, we can provide that hope.
This is the work we do
These people are real, these pictures are real
Share them and join us in building a peaceful future.
Thank you for joining us in Boston for The What Would Leibel Do (WWLD)? Awards Dinner
honoring Sidney Topol with The Leonard Fein Justice Award and Rabbi Toba Spitzer with The
Elizabeth Wyner Mark Peace Award
on Sunday, January 11, 2015.
We appreciate your presence!
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...Keep the status quo
By tradition, the binding of Isaac – the Akedah – which occurs in this week’s Torah portion, is held to have taken place on the site known today as the Temple Mount. During the last few days, as tensions in Jerusalem reached new heights over the Temple Mount, I have been reading the portion and thinking about the meaning the Temple Mount has for Jews – and about how sad it is that, rather than respecting it as a place of peace, sacred to both Muslims and Jews, extremists on both sides choose this site to fan the flames of holy war.