Many of you will be at Passover Seders tonight. Those of you that won't, well, chalk it up to bad planning. A Seder features good stories, classic family arguments, a rich liturgy, four cups of wine--required by the service!--and often terrific food. Next year get started early finding Jews with extra space at their table.
No matter which version of the liturgy people use, we all tell the story of Exodus, of enslaved Jews challenging Pharaoh and liberating themselves, with God's help, from slavery. It's such a powerful story that enslaved African-Americans in this country made Exodus their favorite book of the Bible, and identified themselves as the modern "children of Israel." That's why Martin Luther King, Jr. was known as the Moses of his people.
At the Seder, the order of service asks participants to imagine themselves as participants in the Exodus, so as to make the story of liberation alive and powerful in our own time. And I've got a new version of Exodus for you to think about tonight.
All Jews--and non-Jews--hungry for peace in the Middle East will want to celebrate this week's birth of J-Street, a new advocacy and lobbying organization dedicated to real security for Israel through a negotiated settlement in the Middle East. J-Street is already helping to liberate American political dialogue on Israel and Palestine by challenging the Pharaoh of AIPAC, the powerful right-wing lobby that has all but shut down genuine political debate on U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
Full disclosure--my son Isaac Luria works as the web campaign manager for J-Street, and I couldn't be prouder! He and his colleagues have given us something important to talk about at tonight's Seder.
I hope you'll take a look at J-Street and watch its opening video. If we're every going to experience the Exodus from never-ending cycles of violence, this is the kind of effort that we need to talk about and contribute to.