“Every year, when my family sits down at the Passover seder table, we talk about the stranger…
Over four cups of wine, we always reflect on who, currently, languishes in a metaphorical Egypt: Afghans one year, Syrian refugees the next, then Uyghurs. This holiday, we’ll likely talk about Ukrainian families that went from living their lives to running for their lives.
But as Passover approaches, I’m replaying a conversation I had with Dov Linzer, an Orthodox rabbi with whom I used to co-host a podcast about the Torah portion of the week. He told me that the key line about empathizing with the stranger isn’t mentioned in his Haggadah at all. He was startled that the chief mandate I had absorbed is to think about who is in trouble now, because Jews once were in trouble ourselves.”
Abigail Pogrebin is on the Board of Directors of The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, the author of My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew, and a former president of Central Synagogue in New York.