On Passover This is The Hope
At face value, Passover is a simple story with a message just like most other Jewish holidays; we faced prejudice, and they tried to get rid of us and failed, so we eat and drink to mark the occasion. While the details of who “they” are, what “they” did, how “they” tried to get rid of us, and how we survived vary from holiday to holiday, it always ends the same way, we survived. If you take a closer look, you will find that over time Jews survived through a sort of stubborn, unselfish commitment to peoplehood, and of course hope.
Hope, a concept that has seemed so fleeting for many over the past year, is at the core every major Jewish holiday and is a feeling we all depend on to keep going. This year has certainly been no exception. When the world shut down, schools closed, and recreational activities were cancelled, we held out hope that camp would still be. Last Pesach, we were full of hope that the pandemic would be short lived and launched our Stay Home So We Can Go Home campaign. As the future became clearer and we made the decision to not run our 99th season, we lost a little bit of hope, but as we crafted what would become Chi Family Getaway, the sense of hope returned. As we greeted alumni, campers, and families to Chi each week, the Stay Home So We Can Go Home mantra rang true in a way we had never expected. The success of last summer taught us so much and it is those lessons we used to start the planning of our 100th summer, which brings with it even more hope. Now, here we are with less than 100 days to go until we start our centennial summer! While we know Covid-19 will have an impact on our schedule, meals, program and more, we are full of hope that the Camp Chi Magic will have a greater impact than ever before this summer. Hope is what helps us overcome obstacles in the way of achieving our goals.
During Passover, we recount the tale of being slaves, God choosing Moses and Aaron to stand up to Pharaoh and free the Israelites, the plagues, and eventually the exodus to the promised land. We are commanded to retell this story each year on Passover. And it must be told as an act of reflection on the past, commitment to the present, and faith and hope for the future.
Passover commands us to not just tell the story, but to not let it happen again. Winston Churchill wrote, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” As we commit to the present and thus the future, we have the chance to look both internally and at the world around us. Upon doing so, we will see that even though we tell a story from long ago, the message continues to ring true today. There is still prejudice, oppression, and violence against Jews and many other groups as well, and it is not waning. Sadly, there is no shortage of examples of this hatred and bigotry even the past few months, let alone the past year. Just as the Jews at the time of the exodus wandered in the desert to get to the promised land, today’s Jews have an obligation to help those who are facing prejudice, are oppressed or enslaved. It is our duty to help them to be respected as free people, as human beings equal to all other human beings.
This year when we gather for another round of virtual seders, being together yet apart, consider adding in a new song, a Camp Chi favorite whose message can help spread hope for this season, because we all know, “this is the hope, the hope is still real.”