As is often the case, Passover in 2019 begins on a date that carries historical meaning of various kinds, marking the anniversary of events that range from heinous to heroic, and are fraught with significance.
In modern times, the most famous Jewish event on 19 April has to be the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. Jewish leaders in the Ghetto had learned of the Nazi plan to round up the remaining 55,000-60,000 Jews residing in it for deportation to the Treblinka death camp. It was Passover in 1943, in fact, as it is in 2019, when on the 19th a Jewish force of about 750 armed fighters launched the battle. It took the Germans a month to suppress the uprising, a heroic and remarkable stand by the Warsaw Jews that raised the morale of Jews across Europe. About 7,000 Jews and 300 Germans were killed in the battle. The remaining Jews were captured and transported to the death camps.
This photo survived. It shows a man breaking matzah at the Pesach Seder. Right in the heart of the Warsaw Ghetto…
As the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was unfolding, Jews gathered for a Seder. For most of them, it would be their last.
— StandWithUs (@StandWithUs) April 19, 2019
The 19th of April has been an important date in American history as well, if sometimes for very painful reasons. The Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols took place on 19 April 1995. McVeigh reportedly chose that date because it was the anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian cult compound in Waco, Texas, on 19 April 1993.
On the other hand, 19 April 1775 was the date of the “shot heard round the world”: the day the American colonists launched the first battles of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord. Other things that led to good outcomes happened on 19 April; it was especially encouraging to learn from this site that comedian Shelly Berman married his wife Sarah on this date in 1947. If you grew up, as I did, with a vinyl LP recording of Shelly Berman’s comedy routines in your parents’ collection, and knew them by heart, you cannot but be pleased to learn this fact.
Speaking of new facts, who knew this one? It seems that during the Passover Seder, Persian Jews have a ritual of thwapping the Seder leader with green onions.
A Twitter tweep says this symbolizes striking back at the Pharoanic overlords whom the Jews were escaping in the march out of Egypt after the first Passover.
It remembers the lash of the task masters cat o nine tails in a playful way. My recollection is that it is directed against the Seder leader indicative of punching up
— Samuel Schwartz (@SamuelS99302917) April 19, 2019
For that reason, Passover is a time of celebration and joy. We always like to evoke the mood with a zesty “Dayeinu,” and this delightfully classical but suitably cheerful one, posted only a few weeks ago, is just the ticket.
As a final salute to Passover, a shout-out to Lenny Ben-David, who steps out of a phone booth in a red cape on occasion to curate antique photo collections from Israel and Jewish life. This week on Twitter he posted old photos from Israel in the 1890s showing farm workers under the supervision of a rabbi in the fields. He identifies the images as relating to Passover because of the rabbi’s presence.
Only 1 reason for rabbi’s supervision during harvesting. The wheat is for making special Passover “Matza Shmura,” & the process forbids contact w water.
What do these pics have to do w #Passover?
I found these pics in various collections. Lib of Congress captions 1st "Harvesting Jewish Colony."
Where, who, when not revealed.
Workers looks like small oriental field hands.
But note the rabbi under the umbrella. Why's he there? pic.twitter.com/wbpPc4w1QQ
— Lenny Ben-David (@lennybendavid) April 18, 2019
For all that Passover means to you, we here at Liberty Unyielding wish you a happy and kosher one.