People find meaning in Passover for so many reasons. Some have a favorite section of the Haggadah or even a specific passage that holds extra special meaning to them. Maybe a portion of the ritual meal evokes a particular family memory or inspires them in profound ways. Not only do I have these “favorites” too, but I also have a favorite phrase. Actually, it’s barely even a real word; it’s more or less a conjunction: “Ke’ilu” (as if).
בְּכָל דּוֹר וָדוֹר חַיָב אָדָם לִרְאוֹת אֶת עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלוּ הוּא יֶָָצֶָא מִמִּצְרַָים
In every generation one is obligated to see oneself as if they personally went out from Egypt.
As educators, we know the strength of constructing educational experiences that enable learners to think and feel as if they were transported in time and space to imagine how they would have reacted to a different set of circumstances. This year our learners don’t need to stretch their imagination too much to think about being afflicted by a plague and losing a sense of freedom.
I always find it interesting, too, that the passage does not ask us to imagine what it was like to be slaves. The passage asks as us to feel what it was like to come out the other side of slavery.
So, perhaps it’s even more incumbent upon all of us this year to take ourselves out of the present reality, to actively design part of the Passover experience so that every participant can think and feel “as if” they were emerging from Egypt. As we celebrate a Passover like no other, this part of the Seder especially can be quite powerful.
In this difficult and challenging moment, we too at The Jewish Education Project are acutely aware of the seemingly ever-present fear and uncertainties. But at the same time, we are preparing to come out stronger on the other side of this pandemic, ke’ilu (as if) we came out of Egypt. Today, as then, our community will reach that freedom and will celebrate, together.
We wish you a healthy, peaceful, and meaningful holiday.
David Bryfman is the CEO of The Jewish Education Project.