Pictures of great-grandparents lining the staircase wall. Souvenirs from our most recent vacation. Shabbat table linens crocheted by our relatives decades before our birth. Lavender and jasmine plants whose smell lets us know we are home. A well-seasoned cast-iron skillet passed down through generations. These objects create our homes and make us who we are not just through their presence in our lives but also through the stories they contain, the memories they conjure, and the comfort and familiarity they bring us. These possessions become part of us, part of the story of who we are in the world. When we walk in the front door of our home and look at the objects that surround us, we know that we are home, that we are rooted.
What happens if those objects are taken away? What happens if we must decide quickly, in the dark of the night or without warning in the middle of the afternoon, what to fit in a single backpack as we leave home? This is the decision that those fleeing violence and persecution have faced since biblical times and that they still face today. Having left with only what they can carry, how will they continue to find comfort and familiarity? How will they feel a connection to their own memories without the possessions that link them to their histories and to their lives?
OUR JEWISH ANCESTORS
Leader continues reading aloud:
We do not know much about what our biblical ancestors took with them when they went forth from Egypt. The Haggadah tells us only that “they baked unleavened cakes of dough ( matzot ) since they had been driven from Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.”
Today, we are commanded: “Remember the day on which you went forth from Egypt, from the house of bondage, and how God freed you with a mighty hand.” Imagine that you were there when our ancient Israelite ancestors left home with only unrisen bread. What else might you have brought with you? What comfort or memory would these objects bring you in your new homeland?
After the leader reads the passage above, choose one of these two options:
Go around the table and have participants offer their individual answers to the two questions above.
Build a “modern midrash” as a group. The rst participant begins by answering the questions above (what objects did the ancient Israelites bring and what comfort and memories did the objects hold). The other participants will build on the responses of those who answered before them to create a cohesive group narrative.
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