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Freedom Today, Post 4

THE MOMENTUM OF PASSOVER By Rabbi Meir Bargeron, Congregation Achduth Vesholom, Fort Wayne

The story of Yetzi’at Mitzrayim, also called the Exodus, is one of the most significant events in Jewish history. Moses, with God’s help, broke Pharaoh’s hold on the enslaved Israelites and led them to freedom.

We are commanded to tell and hear this story during our Pesach festival, and the story continues beyond what we read in our haggadot. For the Israelites, there was much uncertainty as they crossed the Sea of Reeds, received the Revelation from God through Moses, and entered into an eternal covenant with the Divine.

While there was uncertainty, anxiety, and even dissent (remember the Golden Calf?!) as the Israelites began their journey to the Promised Land, there was also powerful momentum – they were moving forward. The Exodus is so deeply rooted in Jewish memory that when we gather around seder tables, we say, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt. And Adonai, our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched forearm.” We are the enslaved and they are us.

The Passover story is one of hope and redemption, reminding us that no matter how dire our circumstances may seem, there is always a way forward towards freedom. However, while the Passover story represents a powerful symbol of forward momentum towards freedom, the reality is that many people continue to experience oppression and injustice in our world today. The Indiana Legislature passed SB 1, a law that will ban abortion, putting Hoosiers’ health and safety at risk. Citizens in many states across the country have lost the right to access abortion care. This is a tremendous loss of personal autonomy, which is the root of freedom.

As I write this, abortion remains legal in Indiana, only because the abortion ban has been temporarily blocked in state court while litigation proceeds. Organizations such as Hoosier Jews for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women and the American Civil Liberties Union are working diligently to make sure that Hoosiers never lose the right to abortion care. These and other worthy organizations that are fighting for reproductive justice deserve our support and assistance.

The Passover story teaches us that there is always a path forward towards freedom, even in the face of great adversity. However, we must remember that the struggle for justice is ongoing, and we must act. By doing so, we can continue the Israelites' journey towards the Promised Land, a world where all people are free to make choices about their bodies, their families, and their futures.

Kadima, let us move forward!

Rabbi Meir Bargeron, MSW is the spiritual leader of Congregation Achduth Vesholom in Fort Wayne, the oldest Jewish congregation in Indiana. Rabbi Bargeron serves as Co-Chair of the Indiana Board of Rabbis, as well as on the Honorary Board of Heartland Sings, Inc. Prior to his rabbinic ordination, Rabbi Bargeron worked as a clinical social worker in the nonprofit sector and in private practice.

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