Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Beatles Passover

Last night my family and I went out with some friends to the Pantages Theatre, where we took a musical journey back in time. For over two hours, the Broadway production of “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” took us through the tumultuous 1960’s and the great Beatles songs that came to define that decade. From the innocence of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to the provocative “Revolution” and the contemplative “Let It Be,” we danced, laughed, cried and “Twisted and Shouted” to the sounds and sights of a unique era in time.

Throughout the show, I could not help but reflect on the depth and meaning of the Beatles lyrics, and how relevant they still are in our generation. Themes like “All You Need Is Love” and “Give Peace A Chance” are not limited to the 1960’s, but are relevant to all people at any time who seek a life filled with love and peace. To put it in Beatles terminology, the themes and lyrics of Beatle’s songs are not just about “Yesterday,” but they are also about “today and tomorrow.”

So, too, with the upcoming Passover holiday and the Seder that we sit down to with our families this coming Monday night. The themes of Passover – freedom from slavery and oppression, faith in God through thick and thin, and the power of storytelling – are meaningful and relevant to all generations of Jews everywhere in the world. Recounting the Exodus from Egypt is not limited to the “Magical Mystery Tour” of the Ten Plagues and the Crossing of the Red Sea from our Egyptian past. It’s also about “The Long and Winding Road” of Jewish history – from Medieval Spain through 18th Century Poland, and from Nazi Germany to the Rise of Modern Israel – where we have experienced “Slavery and Freedom” again and again. We use the Exodus story as a framework for a narrative to tell and re-tell our collective history and our own stories to our children, hoping to inspire them to carry our traditions, ideas and values into the future.

In Every Generation” – these words appear all over the place in the Haggadah. They are the “tagline” to the whole Seder experience, conveying the relevance of the Passover story for all Jews at all times.

In every generation one is obligated to see oneself as if one had gone out of Egypt” – In this instance, the Haggadah seeks to include everyone seated around the table, openly declaring that the Passover story belongs to all Jews, irrespective of background or age group. It belongs to my ancestors that I have never met, it belongs to my parents, it belongs to my children, and it belongs to me – today, at the age of 46, and even 18 years from now, “When I’m 64.”

“In every generation our enemies try and destroy us, but the Holy One Blessed be He saves us from them” – This grim reality is a testimony to our survival. It’s a tribute to our willingness to overcome our enemies, even under the most extreme of circumstances. As my good friend Amos Oz pu it, “The Jewish people have survived for thousands of years because millions of Jews, over dozens of generations, have made personal decisions to uphold their identity. It’s also a reminder that we have gotten by with “a little help from Hashem.”

Chag Pesach Kasher V’Sameach