A feast of remembering and recommitment

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It's no surprise that studies have shown the Passover seder is one of the most observed traditions in the lives of Jewish people everywhere. Even Jews who don't participate in any other holiday or attend synagogue look forward to a seder.

What makes this night different from all others is not just the matzah or even the special feast. It is the sense of connection to our heritage, and the recognition that the ancient drama is played out, once again, around a dining room table in the warmth of a Jewish home.

As close friends and family come together, they dine on foods that reveal the journey of our people, not only out of slavery in Egypt but out of oppression in Europe and other lands to safer shores. Passover is a time to remember where we've been as a people, and to dream of a more ideal world.

The seder is a lot like reading a storybook to our children. Except at the seder we hope the children — as well as everyone else around the table — stay awake until the evening is over. The story, after all, is our story, and it is a work in progress.

While we wait impatiently for the meal to be served, we talk of liberation, of freedom, both collective and personal. We tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land, and often draw comparisons to other journeys, other liberations.

For some, that may mean breaking the chains of a personal bondage or addiction that has hindered our enjoyment of life. For others, it may mean recognizing that we as Jews need to recommit ourselves to ensuring that no people should have to live under the yoke of oppression.

Not surprisingly, the beauty of the seder and its message of liberation also attract many non-Jews. Inevitably, if non-Jews go to one seder, they will want to attend one every year.

There is something special about this holiday and something special about the seder. May your Passover holiday be one of personal liberation, spiritual significance and joy.