University of Haifa International School Student Blog
In a sense, I celebrated Passover a week late. Though I participated in a Passover Seder during the same time as everyone else, it was only a week later, when I arrived back in Israel after traveling abroad, that I understood the meaning of Passover in a different way.
Passover is a time to commemorate the story of liberation for the Jewish people. But it is also about the significance of Eretz Israel, the land of Israel, for the Jewish people. As we discussed in my Biblical Theology class, the psychological and physical process of leaving Egypt and arriving at Israel shaped the slaves into a unified and freed Jewish people.
I came to appreciate the importance of the modern State of Israel as it relates to the Passover story when I arrived in Israel after traveling to Berlin on my own. Aside from meeting up with a German Haifa International Student from first semester and a friend who I studied with in the US , I traveled alone, spending most of my days visiting the sites and walking around the city. While I am not comparing my wandering in Berlin to the Exodus, the idea of traveling to a new place and returning to Israel during Passover break allowed me to reflect upon the Holiday in a new way.
I explored the connection between the Jewish Homeland and the Passover story, asking, “Does the founding of the modern Jewish State mark the final stage of liberation from Egypt? ” Though this question was raised in my Biblical Theoloy class, my time abroad allowed me to formlate my own opinion. I came to the belief that Israel is one of the final stages of liberation, and marks another level of the Jewish redemption from Egypt. Though the future of the Jewish people’s redemptive story is yet to be told, the founding of Israel is an important step from slavery to a freed people. So, Passover is a time to remember the experience of slavery, but it can also be about recognizing the importance of Israel and the metaphorcial signifance of escaping slavery to become a people with a National culture.
Sure, Israeli culture at times can be a bit too up close and personal. People butt into conversations, cut in line, and push to get on the bus. But this in-your-face, “chutzpa” culture also reflects the sense that Israeli society is one big family, who all live, breathe, and struggle together to come a long way. After all, some believe Israel is the only place where Jews can truly live as one big family.
In upcoming Seders, I hope to not only commemorate the plights of the past in Egypt, but also the future of the Jewish people in the State of Israel. The phrase recited annually, “Next year in Jerusalem,” then, not only expresses a personal hope about where to celebrate Passover in the coming year, but is also a testament to the importance of Israel as a pivotal role in the Jewish people’s collective narrative.
Post by Ari. To read about another student’s Passover in Jerusalm, please visit, Jessie’s blog post, http://jessiebrecher.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/next-year-in-jerusalem-for-real-this-time/