[Yiddish for: In Struggle]
by Margot Meitner
Passover is my favorite chag (holiday). It’s the one in which I have always taken the opportunity to make a STATEMENT: Sometimes a political statement about my personal life; other times a personal statement about my political life. There was the time I plopped an orange on the Seder plate (representing the role of women in Judaism), or the time I nervously placed a crust of bread there (representing Queers in Judaism). There was the time I led the Seder in lieu of my father and my uncle (my budding feminism); the time I forced my family to be filmed on Passover (the budding documentary filmmaker); and the time I kept asking questions about my family’s experience in the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust).
Who can forget the interracial and interfaith seders, the union seder, and the sweatshop liberation seder? And then there was the time I contaminated my local Bay Area vegan seder with my contribution of gefilte fish (my sassy New Yorker intolerance for West Coast new ageism, which I have since succumbed to). The story of Exodus that we recount at Passover has evolved into a spiritual model that inspires my statement- making (aka, my progressive political work).
The Exodus story of liberation depicts the centrality of the Divine concern for the oppressed. Moving away from a source of oppression seems to be the immediate goal. But the beautiful thing about the Exodus story is that we wander through the desert never to quite reach Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel)—our destination. This forces us to focus more on the journey and the struggle. I have come to accept that the world will never be the one I hope for in my lifetime. But heartbreaking as it sometimes is to know that I will never reach my destination, it is the value that Exodus places on the journey and the struggle that sustains my political work. It is my own Eretz Yisrael—my vision of love, peace, and justice that guides me and enables me, each Passover, to continue to make a STATEMENT.
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