The story of Passover is a story Jewish refugees. HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) has put together a downloadable 2017 Haggadah supplement which brings home the parallels at this special time of the year.
Hat-Tip to Meredith Lopez, Shomrei Emunah Refugee Committee
Throughout our history, violence and persecution have driven the Jewish people to wander in search of a safe place to call home. We are a refugee people. At the Passover Seder, we gather to retell the story of our original wandering and the freedom we found. But we do not just retell the story. We are commanded to imagine ourselves as though we, personally, went forth from Egypt – to imagine the experience of being victimized because of who we are, of being enslaved, and of being freed.
As we step into this historical experience, we cannot help but draw to mind the 65 million displaced people and refugees around the world today fleeing violence and persecution, searching for protection. Like our ancestors, today’s refugees experience displacement, uncertainty, lack of resources, and the complete disruption of their lives.
As we sing the traditional “Dayeinu” at the Passover Seder, we express appreciation even for incomplete blessings. We are reminded that, in the face of uncertainty, we can cultivate gratitude for life’s small miracles and we can find abundance amidst brokenness. Just as the story of our own people’s wandering teaches us these lessons time and time again, so, too, do the stories of today’s refugees. The meager possessions they bring with them as they flee reflect the reality of rebuilding a life from so very little.
For Sajida, the necklace her best friend gave her to remember her childhood in Syria – Dayeinu: it would have been enough.
For Muhammed, scrolling through the list of numbers on his cell phone, his only connection to the people he has known his whole life – Dayeinu: it would have been enough.
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