Newsletter Article - 04/22 -- Posted by hazzanmenes


This April may be called spiritual awareness month! There are religious holidays and days of commemoration for a variety of faiths, not the least of which is Pesach (Passover) , the 8 day Feast of Unleavened Bread. The month also includes Ramadan (Islam), Easter (both Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox), and Yom HaShoah. While there may be rejoicing at times, in general it is a month of contemplating the connections we have with the transcendent and how a greater power impacts the relationships between people.

Passover is a foundational story of the Jewish people. On a religious level, it speaks to the partnership between Jews and God, but on an ethical level it builds the resistance to oppression into the framework of Judaism. We were slaves, we know what this does to our soul, and it is wrong. Yet we were also taught that redemption comes with a price. Redemption from tyranny means that someone - even our enemies - will be hurt. It means that we must give up something whether it be material comfort or our routine lifestyle in order to change the narrative. Redemption requires that we identify our enemies and clarify evil. Redemption from slavery was required in advance of receiving the Torah, and it is one of the shared experiences binding Jews together.

Yom HaShoah uGevurah is about redemption as well. It is a recognition that the evil that enslaved us continues and requires the heroic acts - gevurot - for redemption. Those of us here today must recognize that the resistance to oppression is a global matter and we all share in the task. Redemption in Judaism is a very real concept, but it can also represent a more symbolic rescue from pain and oppression. Here, at Louis Brier we are all heroes taking a stand against oppression, simply by being people of peace, staying strong in the face of pain.