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At sundown on March 27, Jewish families all over Montreal and around the world will sit down to celebrate the first Passover Seder. As we celebrate a second Passover abiding by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we must continue to be mindful of Pikuach Nefesh: our obligation to safeguard life and health above all else.
In keeping with tradition passed from generation to generation, the youngest person present will recite the Ma Nishtana—the Four Questions. This year, as we ask why this night is different from all other nights, we have many new answers. A year into the pandemic, what we at first imagined was a short-term crisis has become a new normal, and we, as a community, have adapted in incredible ways.
The holiday of Pesach provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon the bonds that unite us and the boundaries that separate us—the interplay between the concepts of freedom and deprivation, humility and gratitude. The story of the exodus from Egypt is a story of resilience that imparts lessons about the values of community and connectedness, which make freedom worthwhile.
The miracle of Passover provides valuable tools for surviving the pandemic. It teaches us patience and endurance—to trust that our current situation will get better—and to remember past generations who suffered through inexplicable tragedy and emerged stronger than ever before.
Eventually this pandemic will pass over us and we will emerge united, stronger, and more resilient, with a renewed commitment to our communal future.
With springtime upon us and the vaccination program well underway in our province, many of us have already begun to feel a renewed sense of optimism and promise for more normal days ahead. It is my hope that we are all able to find some joy and meaning in this holiday. Though we are not surrounded by extended family and friends and are still faced with the enormity of the crisis, the story of Passover provides strength and reminds us to value every moment that we are together. It inspires our community to push forward, to overcome, and to survive.
Wishing you and your loved ones a meaningful, safe, and healthy Passover. May we celebrate as we have in years past—next year in Jerusalem.
Chag Sameach V'kasher
President, Federation CJA