Passover is a holiday that is filled with wonderful memories of family, tradition, and a great meal. Like many other people I have warm memories of my family’s Passover Seder. We lived in Albany NY and my aunts and uncles and cousins would come from New York City as well as Rochester for the Seder. When I was very young my grandfather led the Seder. This was followed by my uncle who was a rabbi. What I remember most was the dinner. My grandmother’s knishes, matzo balls, chopped liver and tzimmus accompanied a sumptuous meal with something called “compote” for desert. Of course a highlight of the Seder was searching for the afikomen. Another uncle of mine – not the rabbi – was in charge of hiding the afikomen (probably because the Seder was always at his home.) He was quite creative – the two most memorable hiding spots were a toaster and in a paper bag taped to the underside of the table. The combination of family, tradition, and a great meal gave me a wonderful sense of belonging, identity and security. I knew who I was.
The first words that Moses spoke to God were “Who am I”? Each year the Passover Seder answers that question for us. We read in the Haggadah that we are obligated to feel as if we ourselves were being redeemed from Egypt as the Torah tells us: you shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exo 13:8). At the Seder we remember that we are part of something larger than ourselves. We are part of something that is identifiable. We are part of something that has a continuous history. We have a responsibility to pass down these values to each succeeding generation. Granted, we need to pass down more than a tradition filled with great memories. But may I suggest that we have a responsibility to pass down no less than this great tradition. Do not underestimate the power of tradition in remembering who you are. God delivered us as a people and there is a calling upon us as a people.We are living in a day of great assimilation of our people. The Seder serves as a way to keep that from happening. The Seder is a holy act of remembrance of what God has done for us; it is a remembrance of our identification with him and the covenant that he made with our ancestors. It is also a reminder that we are called to maintain this identity perpetually. This “remembering” takes place within a very physical vehicle – family, tradition and a meal. They are like a building that we call “home.” It is here that the remembering takes place and gives us a sense of belonging – a sense of identity – a sense of security. This is true for us as a messianic Jewish families and communities andall who identify with us. At our Seder, we have a responsibility to pass down this rich history, tradition and calling to our children including trusting in Messiah Yeshua. At our Seder we remember our own experience of deliverance in Messiah as part of the great history of our covenantal relationship with God. As Yeshua said, “As often as you do this, do it in remembrance of me.”
Even though those great family Passover Seders of my youth exist only in my memory I can still say that when we have our Passover Seder today as a family and as a messianic community, the combination of family, tradition, and a great meal still give me a great sense of belonging, identity and security. I know who I am.