This Sunday, thirty days after Passover begins, there is another holiday – one almost no one has heard of. This holiday is called “Pesach Sheni” – second Passover- and has no celebrations, no special services, no seder. Yet, perhaps we should consider reviving it.
Originally, it appears in the Bible because there were a number of people who were, for reasons out of their control, unable to celebrate the Passover a year after leaving Egypt. Upset that they would be unable to celebrate, they complained to Moses, and were instructed to observe it a month later, just for one day.
Second Passover is the holiday of second chances.
Last week, I received an email from Tikkun Magazine crowing, “Major American Jewish Leader Changes his
Mind About Israel.” Rabbi David Gordis, who has served in an astonishing number of major American Jewish
institutions, reflected on his years of love and advocacy for Israel, and on the rightward trend in Israeli
policies. He wrote, “sadly, after a life and career devoted to Jewish community and Israel, I conclude that in
every important way: Israel has failed to realize its promise for me. A noble experiment, but a failure.”
My heart sank. Many of us engaged in advocacy for Israel no doubt share Rabbi Gordis’ discontent with the trajectory of public affairs in Israel. Clearly there is reason to be troubled. Extremism has become embedded throughout every level of Israeli society. The occupation, and the racism that has grown from it, are alarming.
But, while I am sympathetic to your feelings of near-despair, Rabbi Gordis, I beseech you: don’t give up; Israel can’t afford to lose you.
APN's Rabbi Alana Suskin and her co-panelist Dov Waxman speak at Open Hillel's teach-in about the Jewish tradition of dissent and the changing views of Israel as regards the occupation among American Jews
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Sunday night, September 27th, the Jewish holiday of Sukkot began. During the week-long holiday, Jews build a special kind of home to dwell in for the week, called a sukkah. The sukkah is a deliberately temporary house, which can have no more than one permanent wall, and whose roof must be open to the sky, covered only partially by natural materials such as branches. Over the course of the week, the Sukkah is supposed to be one’s home: to eat meals in, to celebrate, and even to sleep in.
On Wednesday (Sept. 23) as Jews end their Yom Kippur fast, Muslims will begin the Eid al-Adha holiday. Imam Haytham Younis and Rabbi Alana Suskin met for coffee and then exchanged the following email dialogue about the two holidays’ convergence and the meaning of a shared story that lies at the intersection of both faiths.
Suskin: It is a rare occurrence for Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) and Eid al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice) to fall back-to-back, but seems appropriate somehow. Just a week ago, on Rosh Hashanah, we read the Torah portion relating the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son — the Jewish perspective of the same story that underlies Eid al-Adha. For Jews, this is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac at God’s command (stopped, of course, at the last moment, by an angel sent by God).
Younis: Yes. Eid al-Adha similarly commemorates the obedience of Abraham and his son to the command of God in fulfilling the sacrifice, as well as the observance of the pilgrimage to the House of God (the Kaaba) in Mecca, which, we believe, was established by Abraham. According to the Quran, the son involved in the sacrifice however, was Ishmael, not Isaac.
Beginning tonight and continuing through Wednesday night, the holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will be observed by Jews throughout the world. Throughout the season leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews engage in the accounting of one's soul -cheshbon hanefesh: we examine our behavior, taking an honest measure of ourselves and our community in the year that has passed. This self-reflection reaches its pinnacle on Yom Kippur.