It is very likely that you are reading this in the Diaspora, a word which here means “everywhere in the universe except Israel.” Even though Israel is designated as the Jewish homeland, most Jews live in the Diaspora, for any number of good or bad reasons. Whatever your reasons are for living in the Diaspora, to some extent Israel is still your home tonight, for when you read the story of Passover and think about the journey from slavery to freedom, you accompany those Jewish slaves on that journey, and part of their struggle stays with you, the way the heroes of any good story stay with you long after you are done reading. Their journey ends in Jerusalem, a place of freedom and safety for the Jewish people, and so we end the seder with the words “Next year in Jerusalem,” acknowledging their longing for a home and their satisfaction at finally finding one. Even if you do not believe you will celebrate Passover next year in Jerusalem, you may say these worlds and think of your own home, which I hope is one of freedom and safety, and the journeys of all the people in the world, which are often difficult and treacherous, as they try to find homes for themselves. Next year, we hope everyone in the world has freedom and safety and can celebrate holidays in a home full of fellow travelers who wish them well, just as everyone at your Passover table wishes you well, even the person you like the least. Let us be grateful for the homes we have, and hopeful for the homes of others, this year in the Diaspora, and next year in Jerusalem.
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