Passover 5771 may be past, but its lessons return in last week’s parashah (B’ha’alot’kha). Of all our holidays, Passover ranks supreme in that we were delivered from Egypt specifically with Passover in mind. Whatever else we do as Jews follows from this singular event in our past. In Temple days, therefore, the Passover sacrifice was the sole calendrical obligation whose purposeful neglect merited a form of capital punishment called karet – the divine sentence of being “cut off” from family ties after we die.
This year, let's move beyond wasteful seder conversation dedicated solely to nostalgia, boredom and pediatrics. Let's go around the table and ask, "What question might keep us up in productive conversation all night long, if necessary?" We'd better have one; we no longer have a tamid to atone for us, if we don't.
From The Reconstructionist, Spring 1995 Reprinted with permission.
In any discussion of community and contemporary American Jewry, it is essential that we pay attention to the wide context in which we live. Too often, we seem to forget that the complex realities of Jewish life today did not arise in a vacuum, that we are profoundly influenced by the currents of modern American culture.
You would think that in a city with 519,000 Jews and at least 175 synagogues of all different strains, Judith --- she requested her last name not be used --- would be able to pick a place of worship to spend the High Holidays. But she can't. ``I have no idea where I'm going,'' she said. ``I just haven't found the place.''