The last Jerusalem almond flurries flutter away as leaves bud forth. Inside, many of us scour our homes, businesses, cafés. Hasidic masters make a metaphor of Jewish spring cleaning. The point is to purge our hearts of excess leaven – self-absorption, indulgence, ego puffery. With President Obama in town on his mission to jump-start a renewed peace process, I take a moment to probe my meaning for Pesach-Passover this year.
Around us, Arab Spring has devolved into a threatening swell of violence as religious and political conservatism challenge the fresh spirit of revolution. Here, our new coalition is poised to tackle a new social agenda. Change is in the air.
In the dignified chamber of our Knesset, our new secular female MK, Ruth Calderon interpreted a talmudic passage about how the roof collapsed beneath a yeshiva student killing him when the spouse he neglected shed a tear on Yom Kippur (Ketubot 62b). The choice of text is auspicious. One key point on the agenda of Yesh Atid -There is a Future is to share the responsibilities for our security and sustenance more fairly, to enlist the ultra-Orthodox yeshiva communities and initiate them into the values of modern Israeli culture.
Women becoming fuller, more active, visible participants and leaders in the public sector – particularly in the religious domain – is one of the flowers of Israel Spring. Women of the Wall are early bloomers. For nearly 25 years, we have been praying – to actualize the promises of equality, freedom, and dignity for all. Any domain exempt from our fundamental ethical commitments undermines their validity everywhere. We must hold every institution accountable for the equal humanity of women and men, particularly where we aspire to the sacred.
As the dark clouds of religious fundamentalism cast shadows over the hard-won ethical principles of Western civil society, we need to fertilize the ground for liberation. Passover is one of the great contributions of the Jewish People to humanity; the story has inspired most of the social change movements in the Judeo-Christian world. One of the most-observed rituals among the Jewish People, the seder table initiates generation after generation into the unrelenting drive to freedom from oppression.
This Passover seder evening, before you dip fresh greens into salt water, I invite you to recite an intention together – for Israel Spring. Please download and print it here.