We begin the Seder by eating the karpas, a fresh green sprig. With it, we ingest the resolute force of new life.

We dip the karpas in salt water to commemorate the tears that the Jews cried when enslaved in Egypt.

So, dipping the karpas in the salt water suggests the possibility of growth and renewal even in the midst of difficult times.

Stories of Soviet Jews keeping forbidden Jewish traditions and culture alive during Soviet repression exemplify this. Learning and teaching Hebrew (see photograph), putting on Purimspiels, secretly organizing Shabbat and actively participating in the underground movement of samizdat, illegally publishing both religious and secular Jewish literature despite the threat and sometimes reality of imprisonment or worse.

In these ways, even in the midst of oppression, these Soviet Jews kept seeds of their culture alive.

Although Soviet Jewish history is certainly full of suffering both under the Russian Empire and during the Soviet Union, we are now blessed to have the freedom to celebrate our identity and the opportunity to participate in a re-birth of Jewish life.

haggadah Section: Karpas