Passover and Lessons in Empathy

andrea Curriculum, Jewish Day School, Jewish Holidays, Jewish Learning

You should not wrong a stranger…for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Our seder demands us to demonstrate empathy and to imagine that we, ourselves, left Egypt. And truth be told, it’s not all that hard to see ourselves in the shoes of Israelites.

As Jews, many of us has felt like “a stranger” at one time or another. Sometimes, it is when we are faced with our minority status. Other times, we feel like strangers when we feel marginalized within our own Jewish community.

Passover reminds us that by engaging in empathy, we fashion our behavior. By imagining ourselves as slaves, we are motivated to treat others gently. We share a collective memory of the tears, of mortar, of bitterness and of the joy of redemption.

Mirowitz students have spent the past several weeks stepping in the shoes of the Israelites and those who are treated as strangers.

They have explored the meaning of our multi-sensory Passover symbols and created their own interpretations of the Haggadah.

They have written letters from the perspective of the Israelites who followed Moshe through the Sea of Reeds. Today, seventh graders discussed bigotry against Asian Americans and our sacred obligation to remember that we once were treated as strangers, too.

During your seder, ask your children why the ceremony demands of us to “see ourselves as though we left Egypt,” and why is it important that we do so.

I hope that the lessons your children have learned these past several weeks enhance your Passover seders with meaningful conversation, thoughtful exploration, kindness and gratitude.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

 

Morah Cheryl