Today is the eve of Passover, one of the major Jewish holidays.
I am not a religious person, and since almost all of our holidays, and Passover in particular, are heavily infused with religious stories and messages, I often avoid celebrating them in the deep sense of the word. Sure, I enjoy the time with my family, the vacation, and sometimes (depending on the holiday) the food. But I mostly ignore the mythology of the holiday. I just don’t feel these are my stories to tell.
This year is different.
For the first time in my life, Passover gets a real meaning, not because I started to believe in the mythology, but because what we celebrate is at risk. Globally.
Passover is celebrating freedom. It’s about the fight for freedom against all odds. Even if it takes decades and centuries, people will find their way to freedom. Freedom is our natural state of existence.
This year is different because our freedom is at risk. Democracy is at risk. Not a theoretical risk but a very tangible one. Many people in Israel, including my family and me, fear a dark future and a real danger to many things we take for granted. We fear a future in which we are not free. And what makes it worse is that this fear is tearing our nation apart from within and is used by cynical politicians to realize this very same future we fear of.
We are not alone in this. I don’t know if I can call it a global trend, but in many countries, things are changing. Less freedom, more restriction, and fewer people controlling essential aspects of the lives of others. From banning books in schools and libraries to LGBT rights to physical violence and real risk to personal safety: we now have to fight for things we took for granted or at least thought were on a sure path to becoming undeniably accepted. It seems like nothing is anymore.
But freedom finds its way. It may take time. It will be a struggle. But there’s no other option. People are not meant to be enslaved. Not physically nor mentally. Our minds are designed to think, not blindly comply. We were born to express ourselves, not obey.
As we celebrate Passover today, I have only one wish. A wish I never thought I’d have to make. A wish others have made for their entire lives.
May we never lose our freedom.
Our freedom to read, to write, and to think.
Our freedom to act, to care, and to love.
Our freedom to believe and to challenge.
Our freedom to change.
Our freedom to be.
May we be strong enough to fight for our freedom.
May we be wise enough never to take it for granted.