With Our Children and Our Elders We Will Go…

As the last rains dry out, our innate sense of optimism reawakens alongside the signs of spring. Aviv higiya, Pesach ba; spring has arrived, Passover is coming! Like any good Jewish milestone, the Exodus would not have been achieved without some grand negotiations (a few miracles, too, but let’s leave those aside for now). 

Moses tells Pharaoh that his people would like to go worship their God in the wilderness. Proudly he says, “With our children and our elders we will go…” (Exodus 10:9). 

“Sure, send the men,” says Pharaoh. 

Unwilling to leave anyone behind, negotiations falter, and the land of Egypt is afflicted with locusts, darkness, and death. When the moment of freedom arrives, everyone: men, women, elders, boys, girls (and animals, hastily baked bread, and G-d sanctioned contraband) filed out of Egypt.

Unwilling to leave anyone behind.

On the Shabbat before Purim, we actively remember what Amalek did to our nation after they left Egypt. Amalek attacked from behind, preying on the weak and unprotected who straggled in the back.

As a nation, we are duty bound not only to remember this particular incident in time, but also to erase those perverse values which characterized Amalek. To do this, we strive to create a society in which we prioritize the care of the weak among us.

Naturally, when the pandemic began we mobilized our society to protect the elderly and physically vulnerable. In doing so, our children lost months of on-campus schooling. They celebrated milestones without their grandparents. They missed out on a year of social, academic, and religious development. Through their frustration and tears we explained to them that we are doing this to take care of others.

Unwilling to leave anyone behind.

We have finally reached a point where our world is starting to open again, an Exodus of sorts. On Shabbat morning, I prayed outside with my teenage son and smiled as I watched the elders of my community joyfully enter our synagogue for the first time in many, many months.  

However, our children are being left out of this beautiful awakening. They are left watching from the sidelines as people enter synagogues, malls, and restaurants. They watch as the world starts up again, seemingly without them. They watch as those whom they stayed home to protect move on without a passing glance.

We have left the children behind.

As Moses made clear to Pharaoh, we are not willing to leave any single element of our nation behind. Men, women, elders, sons and daughters (even the sheep!) are all integral to our character as a nation. We stand up to Amalek by ensuring the physical and psychological well-being of the members of our community so that our nation as a whole can progress. 

To date, nearly 90 percent of the senior citizens of Israel (age 60+) have received their first dose of the vaccine. This protection should afford us ample opportunity to allow our children to participate in educational, social and religious activities. Our children sacrificed so much over the past year in order to ensure the safety of others. Now, we must take care of their needs and bring them back into the throngs of daily life.

With our children and our elders we will go…

About the Author
Sarah Golubtchik is Jewish educator who works with students of all ages. She holds a Master's degree in Education and is a graduate of the Morot L'Halakha program at Matan HaSharon. Sarah is passionate about all aspects of education, in Israel and abroad. She lives with her family in Ra'anana.
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