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Roosevelt Island jewish congregation

Our Temple in the Cultural Center

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A SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM RABBI JOEL: 

 

In each and every generation, one is obligated to regard themselves as though they personally came out of Egypt (Mitzrayim).

 

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Let’s be honest. Most years as we read this line from our Haggadah, it’s a bit difficult to imagine that we personally experience the Exodus from Egypt. Yes, we all have challenges and difficulties in our lives.  Fortunately however, very few of us could relate to perhaps the most painful part of our people’s struggles in Egypt: the fear, and the uncertainty of living in an era where the future seemed so precarious and uncertain.

 

The past year has made Mitrayim — the Hebrew word for “Egypt" that literally means “narrow place” — perhaps a bit easier to envision.  A year ago on Passover, we did not know the extent and duration of this horrible pandemic.  We were uncertain as to how it would impact ourselves, our family, friends, community and the broader world.  The pain, suffering and dislocation of the past year has been unbearable, and has shaken us to our core…  and we have felt the agony of the Israelites who “cried out to Adonai, God of our ancestors.” (Deut. 26:7)

 

Yet, as we enter our second Passover of the pandemic, with new knowledge, miraculous vaccinations and gradual re-openings, we can feel that salvation is near.  We can now relate to the joy of the second half of this verse:  “… and Adonai heard our voices, and saw our affliction, our toil and oppression.”

 

Each year, we do our best to imagine our own personal Exodus, and we do so by re-telling the original story.  Yet we continuously add to this story by recounting other difficulties that we have overcome.  We all look forward to the years — not too far in the future — when stories from the time of the pandemic will also be added to our collective memories.  Then we will celebrate the holiday, remembering and re-telling how we — personally — lived through a time of going “from slavery into freedom, from sorrow to joy, from mourning to festivity, from darkness into great light, and from servitude into redemption.”   Then we will also “sing a new song” with a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation.

 

Harriet and I wish you and your loved ones a zissen pesach, a sweet, joyous, kosher Passover!

 

Rabbi Joel Shaiman

 

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Joel Shaiman, Rabbi -- Nina Lublin, President --  Steve Kaufman, Treasurer -- Contact Information