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Celebrated Jewish Passover with the Jaffee – Moss family in Cape Town.

First time ever with the kippah on – I most honestly confess that I thought no one would ever see me in this one.

But in this very generous and progressive family I bore it with head high. The traditional meal was long and interspersed with readings from the Torah that gave the different dishes their symbolic meanings. Host Georgina Jaffee had put all the readings in new contexts which landed them in today’s South African and global reality without deviating from the overriding theme of “Liberation” – which is what Pesach is all about. After every reading discussions followed in a high and open-minded spirit.

Here are some of my reflections after sharing the night and the thoughts with my new Jewish friends:

When King David encouraged us to “Sing a new song unto the Lord!” he asks us to sing a song that he did not sing, he asks us to renew the tradition. In order for us to be true to King David’s tradition we have to break it. In this paradox lies a great source of freedom and joy. All the great patriarchs of all religions were ground-breakers. If we want to follow them we have to be prepared to break new ground as well.

In the Passover meal, which is staged like a dialogue between adults and children teaching the young ones the traditions, the reoccurring theme expressed through the meal is that the children of Israel have been slaves in Egypt and released. “Today we taste the bitter herb and remember the bitterness of our slavery… Only when the children of Israel realized the bitterness of slavery were they able to begin their struggle towards freedom”.
But here lies another contradiction. Holding on to grievances does not lead to liberation. Letting go of grievances does. Holding on to grievances leads to more bitterness. Letting go leads to freedom.
I feel so inspired by the Moss-Jaffee family’s warm invitation to share a sacred meal with somebody with another faith. That is a wonderful tradition that I want to follow by inviting others! And by teaching our children not to hold on to grievances, but rather to celebrate their freedom - and multiplying it – we’ll be learning to generously share the fruits of forgiveness!


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