Happy Passover - Spring and Optimism
Spring is in the air. And so is optimism.
More than most past years, I feel the coming of spring this year. First, the weather outside is beautiful, the sky is blue and the trees seem to have begun budding overnight. From my porch, I can see crocus and daffodils in neighbor’s yards. More importantly, there seems to be renewed optimism that, although we still need to be vigilant, we are gaining some control over the pandemic. That, perhaps, in the coming months, things will continue to open up. Like a long icy winter finally over, we are waking up to renewal.
And with this renewal comes Passover. While we often focus on the social justice and community-building themes of Passover, it is also very much a Spring holiday. One of its names is Chag Aviv - or "Spring Holiday." In the ancient world, Passover marked the beginning of the harvest season. On our seder table, both the egg and the parsley remind us of Spring.
Before the Hebrew calendar was set by Rabbi Hillel and his disciples in the 4 Century CE, the ancient rabbinic court called the Sanhedrin would determine each year whether it was “Spring” enough for Passover to begin. If, after the Spring equinox passed, certain criteria were not met – the barley not ready to be harvested, the first fruits not ripened, the roads not passable yet after the winter rains – then Passover would be delayed by a full month. A second month of Adar would be added to the calendar and Passover would take place when it felt more seasonal.
This Passover, we are all taking an accounting of the world around us. Is it time yet to vaccinated? Is it time yet to travel? To see friends? To eat at restaurants outside? To gather together as a Beth Chai community? For some of those questions, the answer is still no, not yet. But, like the warming air heralding in Spring then Summer, we can feel change happening this Passover.
May your Passover be a refreshing time for renewal.
Rabbi Debbie Cohen
A few resources for your seder:
- Virtual backgrounds for your Seder: https://app.swivle.com/?r=us-east-1#/s/01eztfy8cw1wmhrgk876jbjbmr/unionforreformjudaism-1
- Miriam’s Song by Debbie Friedman – new video version featuring women from around the world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23R1JT5ywG0
- Guide with new readings focused on social justice and Passover during Covid: https://issuu.com/onetableshabbat/docs/onetablexpassover_2020_guide?fr=sODU1YjEwNzgzMzQ
- Readings on each part of the seder plus full Haggadot to download: https://www.haggadot.com/