Tomorrow (Friday) and on Saturday, Jews around Australia will sit down with our families and friends at seders to celebrate the freedom of our ancestors from slavery in Egypt.
We will do so as citizens of a free and democratic nation; a nation where we can practise our faith and our customs without fear of sanction; a nation to which our people can contribute and have proudly contributed; and a nation where, in five weeks time, we will have the privilege of choosing who our leaders are for the next three years.
After two years of pandemic upheaval, we will also do so finally free of COVID restrictions, although with the virus still circulating, we urge all in our community to exercise common sense and caution if they or any family members are suffering from any respiratory symptoms.
As we celebrate our freedom, our thoughts turn to those who are not free.
Just one year ago, Ukrainian Jews sat at their own seders as a free people. They gathered in their homes, shules and community centres just as we do. Their children sang Ma Nishtana, just like ours will.
But this Pesach, those Ukrainian Jews that haven’t fled will likely be taking refuge in basements and bomb shelters, consoling those very children.
Our thoughts are with all the people of Ukraine – Jews and non-Jews – who have lost love ones, livelihoods, homes and communities due to the devastating war inflicted by Russia, a war that we pray will end soon.
At this time we also think of our brothers and sisters in Israel who have lost their lives or loved ones in the recent spate of terror attacks.
The destination of our forefathers who left Egypt all those generations ago, Israel is perhaps the ultimate expression of the freedom of our people. Yet the newly empty seats at too many seders this year are a painful reminder of the cost of that freedom.
Hence as we sing “next year in Jerusalem” at the conclusion of our seders this year, let’s also pray for a time when the land of Israel is free from senseless terror.
We wish all our readers a happy and kosher Pesach.