It is that time of year again. The period where we clean our homes for Passover. We spend time buying the right food and making sure we have matzoh for the holiday. It is also the time where we make sure that we have the right spiritual food. The Seder is a fine culinary experience where we drink four cups of wine, eat flat bread and literally consume food fit for a king. The Seder is also the night where we attempt to intellectually stimulate Jews of all ages around our table. We reminisce about how, when all seemed lost, the Almighty heard our prayers, rescuing us from tyranny and oppression.
This journey from bondage to freedom has influenced the world more than any other story ever told. So many freedom fighters throughout the ages have turned to the vision of Moses’s courage as a compass towards victory. Moses was a Prince of Egypt. He could have led a lavish existence filled with gold and silver. He left it all behind to fight against immorality and slavery. His outstanding courage was buoyed by the Almighty’s all embracing love. It’s a story, if told correctly, which leaves us all breathless.
As such, there is no more appropriate holiday for us to bring to the United Nations. It is a story of fighting against all odds for what is right. It is a story of good triumphing over evil. It is the story of the Jewish people. Once again, Aish partnered with Israel’s outstanding UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan. I said in my opening remarks to the UN Ambassadors, that although he is known as Ambassador Erdan to the world, on WhatsApp I address him as “brother.” Ambassador Erdan is one of the most dynamic, driven Jewish leaders I know, with a heart of gold. I have been blessed to be his partner over the years and I treasure our friendship.
Last year we were fortunate that Rabbi Etiel Goldwicht, co-Director of Aish Israel, was in America with his family for Passover so he was able to conduct the ‘mock Seder.’ He was so good that we knew no one else could lead this year’s special Seder. Rabbi Goldwicht flew to New York for less than a day to spiritually rock the UN. Many of the ambassadors have been to Aish on their trips to Israel so they have become part of our Aish family. It was touching that Ukrainian Ambassador Sergio Kyslytsya publicly thanked me for traveling to Kiev and participating in relief work there.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield kicked off our Seder by reading the prayer describing the Matzoh:
“This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All those who are hungry, let them enter and eat. All who are in need, let them come celebrate the Passover. Now we are here. Next year in the land of Israel. This year we are enslaved. Next year we will be free.”
Immediately Rabbi Goldwicht instructed all the attendees to turn to their neighbors and discuss what they are personally ‘enslaved’ to and how to break those bonds. The conversations were hugely moving. Work and cell phones were on the top of those lists. Ambassadors spoke personally about the need to give more time to their families. In a building where every conversation is guarded, it was amazing to see folks talking plainly and personally.
As I was walking out with Rabbi Goldwicht to rush him back to the airport, one of the ambassadors stopped us. He said that he had learned more about Judaism and himself in those two hours than he had during his previous decades of life. That type of feedback makes it all worth it. Aish’s mission is to show the world how Jewish wisdom can enhance and elevate a person’s life. Mission accomplished.
My friends, we have a few days left until we gather around the Seder table. We owe it to our families and ourselves to truly prepare for this experience. At aish.com, we have prepared for you a virtual table filled with knowledge. Come visit us online and use Jewish wisdom to build a bond to the next generation. We must connect our hearts to each other. Our souls must be interlocked, basking in the Almighty’s goodness. We must become one family.
From the bottom of my heart filled with love for you all, I wish you all a sweet, meaningful, spirituality uplifting, inspirational, fantastic Passover.