From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With Gratitude 4/19/24

By Shelley Hubal

One-hundred-ninety-eight days. If, God forbid, the hostages are not freed by the first night of Passover, it will mark 198 days since their torture and captivity began. The hostages include young men and women with their whole lives in front of them, a baby, innocent children, grandparents, mothers, fathers, Jewish people, Arabs and Asians.

How can we say “dayeinu” when there are innocent people held by Hamas? How do we hold onto our faith when our hearts are broken for the loss of so many lives, both in Israel and Gaza? How do we maintain what makes us compassionate human beings when so much is breaking us apart? I wish I had good answers to these questions. What I do know is that resilience is woven into the fabric of the Jewish people, and telling the story of Passover is just one of the ways that helps us to remember our strength. 

Jonathan Polin and Rachel Goldberg, parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was taken hostage into Gaza on October 7, wrote the following in the introduction to a special haggadah created to honor the hostages: “When thinking back to last Passover, to our last Seder, it is unfathomable to imagine that we would be where we are now; as a family, as a nation, or as a people. But Hope is Mandatory. That is what it is to be part of the Jewish nation. We are a people who will never give up. We will keep going until we are free, all of us, in body and soul.”

Whether it is having an empty chair at your seder table, wearing the number “198” on your chest or reciting a special Mi Sheberach, I hope you will all find the strength to make this Passover especially meaningful. With a small glimmer of hope and a heavy heart, I will be praying for a miracle so that next year we will all be free. Chag sameach.