One of the purposes of the Passover seder is to teach our children the story of how the Jewish people came to be. Passover is a history lesson taught not by impersonal teachers in a sterile classroom, but by our families seated around the dining room table. When done correctly, the Passover seder should instill a sense of pride. Because with knowing who we are, we should feel proud to be Jews.
Passover commemorates the departure of the Jewish people from Egypt some 3,000 years ago and marks the birth of a nation. This is as much a celebration of our spiritual freedom as it is a jubilation of our physical liberation from slavery.
The Los Angeles Times recently ran a story, "A Clouded View of U.S. Jews" (Oct. 9, 2002), which related the results of conflicting polls taken to determine Jewish population numbers in America. One study claimed numbers dipped slightly to 5.2 million, while a second poll claimed the Jewish population increased to 6.7 million.
Reactions to the Times' numbers were as diverse as the respondents. Some called for an increase in Jewish education and outreach, while others proposed we should increase our numbers by abandoning the traditional reticence to proselytizing and put more resources into embracing potential Jews. I couldn't disagree more.
For three years, I lived in an apartment in Jerusalem next to a bus stop. The rhythm of my life quickly adapted to the bus schedule. Just by looking out my bedroom window, I knew exactly when to leave the house in order to catch the bus.
When I returned to California, I assumed my life's association with buses would end. But this was not to be. I live in a neighborhood where buses abound. And they're just as loud as those of Jerusalem. But the associations couldn't be more different.
For three years, I lived in an apartment in Jerusalem next to a bus stop. The rhythm of my life quickly adapted to the bus schedule.
I found a job! After spending three years in Jerusalem, I am now gainfully employed in Orange County. I'm also in deep culture shock. Before moving to Israel I had lived in Los Angeles, where Jews abounded at each of my jobs. I rarely interacted with non-Jews in Israel, much less worked with them.
Sitting on a plane traveling from Israel, via Canada, to Los Angeles, I couldn't help but over hear the conversations
floating on the air around me. I had been living in Jerusalem the past three years and was returning home to Southern California. My friends in Israel warned me I should prepare myself for a dose of culture shock. I had no idea it would start before the plane had even touched ground.