As we sit with families and friends for the Passover Seder, we rightly celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people. “Liberation” means the legendary emergence from slavery in Egypt, of course, but also the story of the Jewish people’s national liberation, which led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
In the wake of centuries of persecution suffered by the Jewish people, Israel’s establishment was in keeping with the first of Rabbi Hillel’s great ethical guidelines – “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” But, however important, the many aspects of statehood – territory, a flag, a currency, a government, an army – do little to answer Hillel’s inseparable follow-up question, “And if I am only for myself, then what am I?”
For progressive Zionists, Passover is a time when we are challenged to reconcile the tension in Hillel’s dualism: We celebrate national liberation as a Jewish success story, even as we realize today that Israel’s creation was also a Naqba, a catastrophe, for others.
So as we rejoice over our own liberation, we are also concerned: If the Palestinian people are unable to achieve their national liberation; and if Israel fails to become a shared society, in which all its citizens enjoy an equal degree of freedom, then what kind of a country will it become in the years ahead?
Partners for Progressive Israel maintains an ardent hope and a firm belief that, with the help and support of its friends around the world, Israel can still achieve the important balance advocated by R. Hillel – b’mhera b’yameinu (swiftly and in our lifetime).
The Partners for Progressive Israel board and staff wish you a meaningful and joyous Festival of Freedom!