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The Exodus: A Personal Coming Out, In Every Generation
“In our tradition leaving Egypt wasn’t an historical event alone. In our tradition, it was a personal and existential leaving as well.
"בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ\עַצְמָהּ כְאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא\ה מִמִּצְרַיִם”
(In every generation a person must regard themselves as though they personally had gone out of Egypt)
Whenever we leave a narrow place, a place of constriction, painful servitude, a place where we are not authentically who we are, that leap taking, that transitioning, is an exodus. A freedom walk.
Rabbi David Ingber, Romemu
The tradition teaches us, that not only is coming out something that is acceptable in our tradition, but it is something to admire, to strive for, and to some extend, we have an obligation in every generation to take that leap, and Come Out!
הִגָּלֶה נָא וּפְרוֹס חֲבִיבִי עָלַי אֶת סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶךָ
Please, be revealed and spread the covering, beloved, Upon me, the shelter of your tranquility.
Yedid Nefesh - ידיד נפש
As we start the evening, let's keep this in mind. Let us understand that resistance in out tradition isn't merely acceptable, but an obligation. It is something that we have learned through thousands of years, and resistance is what gave us the power to overcome relentless oppression.
Let's continue on page 5
The JQ GLBT seder plate includes some special symbolic items including:
- An Orangewhich carries the seeds of rebirth and represents the diversity of the Jewish community as we increase inclusion.
- A Coconutfor the LGBT still in the closet and their struggle in coming out
- Sour Vegetablesfor the flavor of hatred and bigotry
- Fruit Saladfor our collective potential and recognition
- Flowers, Sticks and Stonesfor the path all of us as LGBT and Allies are on as we move through life and play our role in the development of our culture and commemoration of our history.
Lesbian: A woman who is primarily attracted to other women.
Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex (e.g. gay man, gay woman, gay person), “lesbian” is sometimes the preferred term for women who are attracted to women.
Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both people of their own gender and another gender. Also called “bi”.
Transgender: A frequently used umbrella term to refer to all people who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth or the binary gender system. This includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, genderqueer, drag kings, drag queens, two-spirit people, and others. Some transgender people feel they exist not within one of the two standard gender categories, but rather somewhere between, beyond, or outside of those two genders.
The traditional Haggadah lists ten plagues that afflicted the Egyptians. We live in a very different world, but Passover is a good time to remember that, even after our liberation from slavery in Egypt, there are still many challenges for us to meet. Here are ten “modern plagues”:
Inequity - Access to affordable housing, quality healthcare, nutritious food, good schools, and higher education is far from equal. The disparity between rich and poor is growing, and opportunities for upward mobility are limited.
Entitlement - Too many people consider themselves entitled to material comfort, economic security, and other privileges of middle-class life without hard work.
Fear - Fear of “the other” produces and reinforces xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, antisemitism, homophobia, and transphobia.
Greed - Profits are a higher priority than the safety of workers or the health of the environment. The top one percent of the American population controls 42% of the country’s financial wealth, while corporations send jobs off-shore and American workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively is threatened.
Distraction - In this age of constant connectedness, we are easily distracted by an unending barrage of information, much of it meaningless, with no way to discern what is important.
Distortion of reality - The media constructs and society accepts unrealistic expectations, leading to eating disorders and an unhealthy obsession with appearance for both men and women.
Unawareness - It is easy to be unaware of the consequences our consumer choices have for the environment and for workers at home and abroad. Do we know where or how our clothes are made? Where or how our food is produced? The working conditions? The impact on the environment?
Discrimination - While we celebrate our liberation from bondage in Egypt, too many people still suffer from discrimination. For example, blacks in the United States are imprisoned at more than five times the rate of whites, and Hispanics are locked up at nearly double the white rate. Women earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. At 61 cents to the dollar, the disparity is even more shocking in Jewish communal organization.
Silence - Every year, 4.8 million cases of domestic violence against American women are reported. We do not talk about things that are disturbing, such as rape, sex trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse, even though they happen every day in our own communities.
Feeling overwhelmed and disempowered - When faced with these modern “plagues,” how often do we doubt or question our own ability to make a difference? How often do we feel paralyzed because we do not know what to do to bring about change?
בְּכָל־דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָּב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת־עַצְמוֹ, כְּאִלּוּ הוּא יָצָא מִמִּצְרָֽיִם
B’chol dor vador chayav adam lirot et-atzmo, k’ilu hu yatzav mimitzrayim.
In every generation, everyone is obligated to see themselves as though they personally left Egypt.
The seder reminds us that it was not only our ancestors whom God redeemed; God redeemed us too along with them. That’s why the Torah says “God brought us out from there in order to lead us to and give us the land promised to our ancestors.”
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who redeemed us and our ancestors from Egypt, enabling us to reach this night and eat matzah and bitter herbs. May we continue to reach future holidays in peace and happiness.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
We praise God, Ruler of Everything, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Drink the second glass of wine!