The Iranian Attack Against Israel and Framing our Passover Seders

Note: I posted a few days ago information about the Passover Seder and Hagadah. In light of the Iranian attack against Israel on Motzei Shabbat, April 13, I expanded the introduction to include the following thoughts.

Pesach is a unique opportunity for family and friends to come together and bond with the people of Israel and with humanity as a whole. Since October 7, the people of Israel and the innocent among the Palestinians living in Gaza have suffered deeply. The unprecedented but anticipated attack upon Israel by Iran beginning on the evening of April 13 with hundreds of armed drones and guided missiles following Israel’s attack against an Iranian site in Syria two weeks ago that killed 7 leading Republican Guard commanders exacerbates our people’s worries for the lives and safety of our Israeli brothers and sisters and the threat of a wider war. Such a war would mean not only more death and destruction, but would constitute an existentially expanded threat to the people and State of Israel. Our Seders this year ought to reflect the circumstances in which we and the Jewish people are living today.

Each of us identifies in different ways: as Israelis and/or Diaspora Jews, as non-Jewish individuals who are part of Jewish families, as Zionists and non-Zionists, as political liberals and political conservatives, as universal humanitarians and as tribal loyalists, as part of a wider Jewish family inclusive of Jews in Israel and around the world and as individuals with a primary focus on rational enlightenment thinking, as human rights advocates and as supporters of Jewish and Israeli causes – or as some or all of the above. Whichever it is that we identify with most, there’s a place at the Seder table for everyone and everyone’s voice ought to be heard with respect and civility. The sage Shmuel framed the spirit in which our discussions this Pesach ought to be held when he said אילו ואילו דברי אלהים חיים – Eilu v’eilu divrei Elohim chayim (“These and those are the words of the living God”); if our words are expressed with love for the Jewish people and compassion, empathy, and the desire for justice for all peoples.

Throughout Jewish history, our people have lived with fear first as slaves to the Egyptian masters and then in many lands and eras in which we’ve been powerless and vulnerable to antisemitic attack. We’ve been schooled in the experience of oppression, subjugation, and violence. We know the heart of the stranger and what happens to vulnerable individuals and groups when evil powers oppress them. We’re taught that no one is secure if anyone lives in fear. No one is free until everyone is free.

One of the unique characteristics of Pesach is that in one event – the Exodus – the particular and the universal, the tribal and the humanitarian are experienced together. Consequently, the Jewish people understands that in history we have been both a people living apart and a people linked to the whole of humanity. Our interests and the interests of others necessarily intersect morally, spiritually, culturally, ethnically, nationally, and politically.

Hopefully, our Seders this year will give us an opportunity to reflect about the meaning of October 7, the Israel-Hamas war, the Iranian attack against Israel on April 13, the dramatic rise in antisemitism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Israel sentiment in our country and around the world, the right of our people to defend ourselves and live securely in our Homeland, and the right of the Palestinian people to live securely in their Homeland too and free from the yoke of a cruel Hamas, the brutality of radical extremist Islam, and free from Israeli occupation in the West Bank.

I pray for peace and the security of Israel, all peoples in the Middle East, and everywhere in our tortured, polarized, and violent world.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and a past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of 3 books - "From the West to the East - A Memoir of a Liberal American Rabbi" (2024), "Why Israel Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to the Next Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Revised edition 2023), and “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (2017). All are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren and he lives in Los Angeles.
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