Refugees, Then and Now

Picture drawn by an immigrant child detained at the Tornillo tent city, Tornillo, Tex., January 2019, shortly before the facility was closed. Photograph by Justin Hamel.

Hearts beating like drums. Hands grasping at precious objects in the dark. My ancestors fled their oppressors under the cover of night. They packed light, bringing only sustenance for the journey ahead, unrisen cakes of dough. What could not be tied to their backs was etched across their hearts and on their souls: joy and pain, hope and trauma, uncertainty and faith. Bite by bite, they trusted that the bread of their affliction would become the bread of their liberation.

At the Passover seder, I step back into that experience. I eat the bread of affliction to remember their journey, memories etched across my own heart and soul like the generations before me. And yet, the journey to liberation is far from over.

Today, more than 70 million souls still wander the earth fleeing violence and persecution. From Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar, Colombia – from every corner of the earth – today’s refugees make perilous journeys almost as dangerous as the conflicts they flee. In the name of our ancestors, let us raise the Jewish community’s voice in saying that we want the doors of our country to remain open to refugees and asylum seekers. We will bear witness as they write the next chapter of their stories in safety and with dignity.

- Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, Rabbi-in-Residence, HIAS

haggadah Section: -- Exodus Story
Source: The Other Side of the River, The Other Side of the Sea