Pesach Message from Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism
There’s a moment during the Ten Plagues which I find especially moving. Warned by his advisors that Egypt is ruined, Pharaoh appears to relent and asks: ‘Who is it who’s going?’ Moses replies:
We’ll go with our children and our elders, our sons and our daughters, our flocks and our cattle, for we’re holding a festival to God.Shemot 10:9
Everybody matters; no one may be left behind.
Hopefully, this spring and this Pesach herald an exodus for us too, – from lockdown and a year of pandemic. This will, and should be, slow and careful. For, like Moses, we want to take everyone together towards a better future.
Across our communities and at Masorti’s centre, with Noam and Marom, we’ve tried to think of everyone over the past months. We’ve learnt the new language of zoom. We’ve reached out to young people whose schooling, university experience and job-market entry has been turned upside down. We’ve striven to contact those shielding at home and in care homes. At the same time, we’ve been challenged to deepen our in-reach into our Jewish learning and resources of spirit, to find the resilience and humour to keep going and keep caring for our society and world.
Sadly, as we pass the anniversary of the first lockdown, we recognise that we’ve lost loved ones and that the past year has left grief in many hearts.
Yet, as has always been the Jewish way, we look towards the future with hope and determination. May this be a year in which we travel together, younger and older, towards being a more just and inclusive society, in the Jewish and the wider world. May we appreciate those who’ve looked after us, the medical teams, teachers, bus-drivers, food-providers. May we thank God for what has sustained us, the strength of the human spirit, the beauty and wonder of nature.
May this be a year of liberation, learning and hope.