Last year, when Passover started, the COVID-19 lockdown was still young, and not nearly as many people had become jaded and cynical about the torrent of information and warnings from government and health authorities around the globe.
The year since then might go down in the record books as an “annus horribilis,” as Queen Elizabeth II called the year 1992, when the marriages of her children Charles, Anne, and Andrew all broke up, and a major fire hit Windsor Castle. Some Americans hoped 2021 would be an improvement over 2020, but so far that hope has not been requited. If anything, 2021 has seemed to go even further off the rails.
But Passover is an opportunity to reflect on continuity, provision, and the resurgence of hope in a chaotic world. Next week, in the culminating seder ritual, Jews around the world will ask the four questions they have asked under the same stars for millennia, and receive the same answers. The question “How is this night different from all other nights?” evokes a sense of singularity – but comfort and promise lie in the fact that it has been asked and unfailingly answered annually for more than 3,000 years.
It undoubtedly has some life left to it. As more of the world each day reopens, reassesses, resumes daily life from the strange COVID interruption, I see Jewish friends planning Passover gatherings big and small. Let the “passover” reflect the gratitude of many in 2021 for what has been survived and overcome. Let it be a token of power and hope for what has still to be dealt with. If we had merely survived, it would have sufficed. But we have reason, always, to hope for more.
A few musical selections (somewhat unusual ones this time). First up, the Rana Choir singing “Chad Gadya,” a popular holiday carol similar to the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but in this version with something of an acerbic twist at the end. The audience liked it.
A (mostly) instrumental “Dayenu,” with acoustics that could have been better but still with a mellow show-tune vibe.
And an affecting “Shema Israel,” just because I like this one, and the boys’ choir sing their hearts out, just as the Shema is supposed to be rendered. (It’s a Jewish choir, although named the Syrian Boys Choir.) As the man said — well, as many men have said, Vince Lombardi included, about sports and life — “It all comes down to this.”
Happy Passover and Chag Sameach Pesach from Liberty Unyielding.