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Ariel Stone

This Passover Is Not Different

I know it’s a controversial statement, but here we are: as it is said, two Jews (or more), three opinions, at least. Here’s a respectful, historically informed offering to balance out the exceptionalism being offered us in too many quarters as we approach an ancient ritual with what feels, to some of us, to be a unique sense of ….

well, what is it? what could possibly be unique to the Jewish people’s experience after so many years of sedarim, some celebrated in joy and abundance, and some in ghettos, some during the crusades and once a year even during pogroms and pandemics.

מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות?

How is this year’s Seder different from all other nights? It’s not. The Jewish people has experienced suffering and persecution just like the present, greater than the present, in the past.

The rituals of Pesakh are already enough if you know how to use them. Ten drops of wine from our cup of joy because others are suffering: Palestinians in Gaza, Hostages in Gaza, Palestians in the West Bank.

Death of the first-born: massacre of Israelis, many of whom were first in the peace movement

Opening the door to Elijah: reminding ourselves to open the door to hope and those prophets carrying it: Palestinian-Israeli peace movements insisting that now, even now, we can learn to live together.

We observe the Pesakh Seder as a community. This year may it remind us that although each of us is unique, none of us is exceptional; so, too, our suffering. So, barukh haShem, our joys, which are meant to be shared.

About the Author
Rabbi Ariel Stone has been Shir Tikvah’s spiritual leader since the congregation’s founding in 2002. A caring and vibrant leader, she is a knowledgeable teacher of Torah and a recognized scholar of Jewish mysticism. She is the first female rabbi to be the head of a congregation in the state of Oregon. She helped to create TischPDX, Hesed Shel Emet of Portland Oregon, Rachel's Well Portland Community Mikveh, and the Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance.