Sherwin Pomerantz

Day 199 – As We Approach the Onset of Passover

Tonight, as the 199th day of Israel’s war with Hamas comes to an end, we will sit down to the Seder meal that ushers in the eight-day observance of the holiday of Passover (Pesach in Hebrew).  While that is how most people refer to it, the holiday has four names, one of which, in Hebrew is Z’man Cherutainu, or the season of our freedom, given the fact that the story told at the Seder is the story of the exodus from Egypt.

This year, when we begin the Seder, it will be a real challenge to see ourselves as enjoying freedom.  Here in Israel, we have been embroiled for over six months in a war that began with an attempt by our enemy to destroy us.  We will read tonight that in every generation our enemies will rise up and attempt to destroy us, the Jewish people, but this year we are living it.   So, when we recite those words as have generations before us, they will have piercing meaning as we recall the worst one-day massacre of our people since the Holocaust, a day when over 1,200 of our best and brightest had their lives snuffed out while hundreds of others, yet alive, will have suffered physical and/or mental damage as well.

Simultaneously we are experiencing the exponential rise of antisemitism across the world in the face of demonstrations calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and the annihilation of Jews.  Things got so bad on university campuses in America, that earlier this week the rabbi at New York’s Columbia University advised the 5,000 Jewish students enrolled there to go home as quicky as possible, as the university and the municipal police could not guarantee their safety.  1930s Europe in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Who would have thought?

How do we celebrate as free people in the face of seemingly so much of the world being anxious, once again, to see Jews, who make up 0.2% of the world’s population, as the cause of all the world’s problems and for whom our destruction is the only (dare I say “final”) solution?

The answer is simply that even in the face of these obnoxious and dangerous threats and actions, we see the hand of God reaching out to protect us.  What we here in Israel witnessed 10 days ago when Iran launched over 350 rockets, missiles, drones and other assorted armaments against us, 99.9% of which we destroyed, was a miracle on the level of the crossing of the Reed Sea, which is the story we will tell tonight at the Seder.

Recognized experts in the defense sector readily admit that it was statistically impossible for all of the elements that came together a week ago Saturday night to have done so without at least some mission failures.  Yet there were none, zero, nada…..not a one.  Even countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, who would normally not lift a finger to help us, did so as part of a coalition that included the US, France and the UK as well.  Truth be told, some of my most atheistic friends reluctantly admitted that divine intervention is the only explanation for our good fortune that night.

So, we will gather this evening remembering with sadness those we have lost this past year to people and movements who yearn to see us dead.  But we will remain hopeful for a better future, secure in the knowledge that just as we have maintained our faith for 3,500 years in the face of an almost constant threat to our survival, our enemies of old are no longer around.  Therefore, we will continue to outlive our current enemies as well for we believe that God is with us

May the promise of freedom so elemental to the Passover holiday be fully realized in our lifetimes, and may our enemies of today fail in their efforts, as those in the past have failed.   Am Yisrael Chai…..The People of Israel live!!!!

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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