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A different Passover — two Denverites reflect


The Passover Haggadah, full of the story of persecution, perseverance and deliverance, will no doubt take on a new relevance when the book opens on April 22.

L-r: Linda Foster, JFS; Miri Kornfeld, StandWithUs

L-r: Linda Foster, JFS; Miri Kornfeld, StandWithUs

Barely past the six-month anniversary of Hamas’ invasion of Israel, Passover gatherings will commence with the agonizing overtones stemming from the events of Oct. 7.

“On one hand it’s going to have a different tone, but on the other hand, it’s the same tone that’s followed the Jewish people since we’ve been Jewish people,” says Miri Kornfeld, Colorado director of StandWithUs.

“Every generation has felt someone or some nation that rises up and tries to kill us,” says Kornfeld. “That is just our unfortunate thing that follows us as the Jewish people.

“We talked a lot during Purim that it was Haman, and now it is Hamas, which is just one letter different.

“We commemorate the exodus from Egypt and the Egyptians attempt to subdue or even annihilate Jewish people through hard work and what not.”

A variety of groups have created Haggadah supplements that address the Israel-Hamas conflict.

One such supplement was created by the Academy for Jewish Religion, called Seder Interrupted. The 157-page work starts with the proclamation “I am the seder, but my heart is in October.”

The supplement asks readers to think about the following questions, in addition to The Four Questions:

“What is the definition of freedom this year? Are we still reeling from the horrors of Oct. 7? What will we be thinking during Shefoch Hamatcha with its call for G-d’s anger against our enemies?”

“I think about all the people we’re serving here,” says Linda Foster, CEO of Jewish Family Service of Colorado. “There are migrants who are coming from Venezuela, which meant most of them have been through such horrific situations.

“Then you have what’s going on in Israel and Ukraine and in all different parts of the world. There is so much around freedom, and how freedom becomes more meaningful. That’s what the seder is all about.

“If you think about what’s going on in the world and locally,” said Foster, “all the challenges and all of the people who have been oppressed, the seder represents what everyone is experiencing.”

Kornfeld’s seder includes 10 people.

“The major difference this year is that there is not a single person who is going to be sitting around a seder table this year who is not affected in some way by Oct. 7,” says Kornfeld, “be it their immediate family members or a friend of a friend who were massacred or are being held hostage.

“The Jewish people are all connected. Even if we have zero immediate family in Israel, there are brothers and sisters from across the pond.

“We’ve all experienced some sort of fear of being a Jew as a result of October 7, no matter where you live. All of this is more in the front of our minds as we talk about our history at the seder.”
Kornfeld sees Passover as a time when Jews normally reflect not only about the exodus from Egypt, but also the Holocaust.

“That was the older generation’s existential issue,” says Kornfeld. “Now we have our generation’s existential issue, which is Oct. 7. So, how will the seder be different?

“Generational trauma is something that will live with the Jewish people forever. The immediate feeling of the Holocaust, I think, is on the verge of heading out the door, simply because the Holocaust survivor generation is dying off.

“We got traumatized anew.”

Foster’s seder table, which will seat about 10 this year, includes a mix of faiths and perspectives.

“We always invite friends who aren’t Jewish and it’s very meaningful to them,” says Foster. “We have family and then we have friends.

“It’s always very meaningful.”

This, at a time when there is more varied meaning than ever.

Copyright © 2024 by the Intermountain Jewish  News

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IJN Staff Writer | [email protected]

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