Happy Passover from Leslie Crane

If you ask my children what is their favorite Jewish Holiday, hands down all three would say: Passover. Right now I am in the midst of the hustle and bustle of preparation for the holiday; cleaning, shopping and menu planning.  I would like to share my thoughts as we get closer to the first night of Pesach.

As we once again gather around tables with family and friends to retell the story of our liberation, our Seders begin with the words; “In every generation, each person should feel as though he or she was redeemed from Egypt.” While most holidays recognize and celebrate something significant in the past, Passover reminds us that this is something we participated in, and continue to experience. We should not only appreciate our blessings, but recognize what we need to do to end the “slaveries” and challenges of today. 

On Passover we read “let all who are hungry come and eat.” Last week I was fortunate to participate in a Hunger Seder sponsored by our Federation’s Community Relations committee to help raise awareness about hunger in our community. Clergy and other leaders in Jewish Rochester came together to learn and to make a pledge to do more for those who experience hunger.

“Let all who are needy come and observe Pesach with us.” Today those Jews include the growing number of elderly, children, and families in war-torn Ukraine who have nowhere to turn but to our global partners; the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) brings food, medicine, and social support. Our Seders are meant to be wake-up calls and touch our emotions. It reminds us that our actions make a significant difference in the lives of others.

Our Federation has made a strong commitment to address issues of inclusion, under the direction of Jewish Education Services, of individuals with special needs in our Jewish community. Inclusion is a mind-set, not an accommodation. Inclusion is about including those with physical disabilities as well as those with invisible disabilities. Finally we must remember that inclusion is not a fad. It is not going away. This Passover, as we read about the four children let us remember we are each differently abled; this adds richness to our community.

After the many hours of cooking and running to the grocery store at least 100 times, I enjoy sitting down at my Seder thinking about how this holiday is being celebrated around the world. Every year before the first Seder I receive phone calls and e-mail messages from our friends in Modi’in, Israel. This is a very special connection and partnership. The “family” has grown over the years from Rochester to Modi’in with Federation programs for teachers, teens, and young professionals. Passover is a time for connection as we wish each other a Chag Sameach.

On Passover we tell the oldest and best story we have, as we have always done. We are told to make it come alive, especially to our children.  Our Federation hosted an interactive musical program with ShirLaLa on April 17th  to prepare our children for Passover with music and dance.  What a beautiful opportunity!

As each of you retell the Passover story this year, my hope is that you think of the ways we have been redeemed and of all the great work our Federation does at home and abroad.

From my house to all of yours, wishing you a Chag Sameach!

Leslie Crane
President, Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester 

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