Gayle and I shopped for Passover foods for a couple of years in Midwood, Brooklyn. It was easy to get there, and the stores were fabulous. There was Pomegranate. There was Oh Nuts, in the shadow of the Q train station. There was a fishmonger, and one day Gayle and I entered the store to get ingredients for gefilte fish. I was the third person in line to pay.
The proprietress said to the first person, “Chag sameach v’kasher,” meaning, “Have a joyous and kosher holiday.” The proprietress said to the second person, “Chag sameach v’kasher.” When it was my turn, she said, “Chag sameach.”
I was insulted. She probably knew the first two people, and she probably knew them as observant Jews. She definitely did not know me, but I think that she was obligated to give me the benefit of the doubt.
I clean my kitchen, and all areas where food is reasonably taken. We have separate plates, glasses, utensils, pots and pans, that we have accumulated during the past 45 years. But if you do not clean your kitchen, if you do not have separate plates, glasses, utensils, pots and pans, the holiday means the same thing to you as it means to me.
The timeless story of freedom from slavery. It never gets old. There are now people living in slavery, but more people around the globe are oppressed. Myanmar comes to mind. China’s suppression of Uyghur population comes to mind. Boko Haram comes to mind. Syria’s civil war comes to mind.
As Jews, we should strive to eliminate oppression anywhere in the world. Our tradition tells that our ancestors were enslaved by the Egyptians, and every year we tell the story anew. It doesn’t matter that the story is probably not true, but we feel like slaves every year. Every year, we get liberated from slavery and what good does it do if we don’t act on it?
Most of us are not heads of state who can set policy. Most of us are little people. But even little people can raise their voices by writing to their elected officials, attending protest rallies, or by not tolerating oppression.
Passover is yearly reminder that we are a free people and came from slavery. Let’s not waste it.