A Passover Message from Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner
Members of the extended Atlanta Jewish community expresses their thoughts about the 2023 Passover holiday, using the prompt, "Unity Creates Community."
“Unity creates community or does community create unity?”
One of the beautiful aspects of the Pesach narrative is that this is our Jewish community’s group spiritual experience. An experience that focused on the forging of us from a rag tag group of “strangers in a strange land” into a community unified by a common experience.
Yitzeyat Mitzrayim wasn’t just the story of some of us, it was the story of all of us. I often wonder what the individual conversations might have been like; was the community divided over leaving? What were the exchanges like between the parents and their children? And the conversations between spouses? Yet, Torah isn’t interested in sharing what most certainly would have been a divided community with varied opinions over the when, ifs, and how’s of an Exodus.
What Torah describes is the sacred experience of the Israelite community at a particular moment. A moment when we move, act, and respond in unison-na’aseh v’nishma- “we will do, and we will hear.”
Unity creating community and community responding in unity.
The exodus was, and still remains, the unifying event which birthed us- forged us- into a people, “Am Yisrael.”
Today, while our community may, at times, feel less unified, divided along religious, political, or spiritual lines, still the ritual of Pesach observance melts away those lines and brings us all back to the Oneness and unity of our community. No matter where we live, Atlanta or Tel Aviv, Kenya, Cape Town, Hong Kong, or Buenos Aires, when we gather with family and friends, to eat, laugh, rejoice and “to see ourselves as personally redeemed from Mitzrayim” recalling the Exodus, we are all reunited, one sacred community-Am Yisrael!
A Zissen Pesach to all.
Alexandria Shuval-Weiner is president Atlanta Rabbinical Association and senior rabbi Temple Beth Tikvah.