One of the most treasured parts of Pesach for me is the mitzvah of inviting others to join you at your Seder. Now, I have not hosted one myself but I have been honored to be at the table of others' for seders. Judaism is as much about our rituals and traditions as it is about people. There is a human call, a human answer to a cry that echoes through our services and prayers. When most people talk about Judaism, they think of "Jewish guilt." I think of Jewish kindness. I think about how there are stories in the Bible of acts of great kindness and hospitality. On Pesach, we talk about how this night is different from all other nights. Indeed, it is and should be.

This year, Pesach begins in April which is sexual assault awareness month. It is a month to bring about the awareness that even in our Jewish communities, these horrible crimes happen. As a survivor, I feel this month's weight on my shoulders. I feel the load of hurt, loss of a sense of safety and lost of trust that comes with experiencing what I went through. I don't know what they went through in Egypt but I feel the taste of it on my tongue this year. I feel the tears on my cheeks. I look forward to a day when there is peace and security. This night must be different for me and for others like me. We must look for ways to prevent sexual assault and ways to support the survivors in our lives. Or survivors in our geographical area. There are plenty of ways to get involved in helping survivors and raising awareness.

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This Pesach, there is another way to make the night different from all others, I think of others who are struggling through those narrow places. I think of people with disabilities- whether visible or invisible. Often having a disability means being left out of the group. For me, I can pass as able bodied and neuro-typical. But underneath this outer shell is someone who needs that extra help to be included. As someone with major depression and social anxiety, it can be difficult to make it through a Seder. The fears of messing up, the pressure of acting "normal", all the interactions and parts of the seder can be very overwhelming. I think of people who might need special accommodations at seder tables. It can be hard at times to include others who are different, but it is important to do it. I think of people who do not have food and will be going hungry during Pesach. Who stomachs will be growling as we feast. Or those without homes or families. Of Jews who want to partake in the Seder, in our traditions but do not have the resources to do so. I think of those who have different beliefs or politics or traditions than I. Surely they need a seat to. Let's make this night different, let's open a seat up at the table for new people.


This past year has taught out country a lot about how we treat and view those who are different than us. That cannot be a lesson left in other areas of our lives. It is a lesson that must be carried over into our faith. During the seder, we remember the suffering of our ancestors because of how they were different. We read about how they were mistreated, enslaved and losing hope. In our time now, there is still slavery going on. Slavery on multiple different levels. People enslaved in their countries, human trafficking, people enslaved by debt and by addictions. This night can be different as we discuss ways that people are still in bondage today and how we can make a difference.

Just as we end our seder on a high note, as we think of a time that is to come when good things happen and peace reigns, we have to get up from the table and work towards that end. We cannot simply hope for that day and leave with full bellies to go about our days as before. This night must be truly different from all other nights. This night we must remember the past and remember others. Just as we recall the pain our people went through, we have to go beyond ourselves and see the pain around us. Intentionally make this night different from all other nights.
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