15/16 April 2022, 14/15 Nisan 5782

Min hameitzar karati Yah anani bemerkhav-yah, we read in Psalms 118:5, “I’m calling out to You from a narrow, a constricted place; respond to me with spaciousness.”

How do we get from our own meitzar/constriction to merkhav-yah/a spacious, expansive place of the spirit?

This is always relevant but especially now for Passover, known as the  Season of Freedom Z’man Cheruteinu. The idea of expansion and redemption whether personal or collective is the blood that pumps through Pesach. Six months from Yom Kippur-a half way point of the year, we consider what transformations are possible.

 For each one of us.

For our households, families, and those we love.

For our Jewish faith, identity and relationship to this Pesach, the first seder together in the synagogue for three years.

Our attitudes to prayer, to community to responding to each other and our congregation.

Our anguish and hope for those not safe – fleeing Ukraine with plastic shopping bags holding their lives, languishing in Afghanistan under a restrictive and punishing regime, the Uighar Muslims in China still persecuted and tormented for their faith and ethnicity. The recent deaths in Israel and the struggle for peace safety and security for all in Israel and the Palestinian territories. There are many, many ‘Pharaohs’ still. And this Passover we are so conscious of them.

When the Seder opens with the words Let All Who are Hungry Come and Eat... let us be reminded of our obligation to care for other. As we add sunflower seeds to our Seder plates. We are poised to welcome families and households fleeing from Ukraine. We continue to work towards a better settling of Afghanis and moving them out of their bridging hotels (some still there almost a year and some longer).

And many of us will attend Barnet Citizens Assembly with the Leader of the Council and neighbouring institutions as we commit to improving life in our wider community too.

Passover calls us to recall our Jewish collective identity. The diverse family of Jews we belong to as we tell our stories this Friday and Saturday nights. I like the reminder that all we do as Jews -the spiritual soul seeking, the building of community, the justice and kindness we want to build in the world- all of it is inspired by this Passover moment.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Sameah
Rabbi Rebecca