Passover’s Message of Inclusion

Passover is upon us. During these eight days, we remember our time as slaves in Egypt and celebrate our eventual liberation. We also remember what it was like to be a stranger when we were scattered across the globe, wandering with no sense of belonging. That’s why on this holiday we make an extra effort to invite people who may not have another place to go for Seder.

But this practice of inclusion doesn’t have to be limited to one holiday. That’s the message of a new op-ed in the New York Jewish Week by Adam Bronfman, managing director of the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, and JOI’s Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky. They write that at Passover, “as we commemorate our own freedom from disenfranchisement, how are we also ensuring that all who wish to be a part of the Jewish community are included, as congregants, members, and even leaders?”

They make the point that in many intermarriages, the spouse who is not Jewish is an equal contributor to raising a Jewish family. This means they should have full rights within the Jewish community – but too often the spouse is “officially excluded” as a member of a synagogue or congregation. For what reason? “After all,” they write, “what have these individuals ever done for the Jewish people, other than give up passing on their own family’s faith tradition to raise their children as Jews (not to mention countless hours of preparation and synagogue involvement, and thousands of dollars in dues and tuition)?”

That’s why it’s so important to not only honor these spouses for their sacrifice, but welcome them fully as members in our Jewish family. This Passover, they write, we can continue the Passover tradition of celebrating freedom by “creating policies that include and officially empower all.”

Happy Passover!


  1. Inclusion?

    ‘Pour out Your wrath upon the nations that do not acknowledge You, and upon the kingdoms that do not call upon Your Name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Pour out Your indignation upon them, and let the wrath of Your anger overtake them. Pursue them with anger, and destroy them from beneath the heavens of the Lord.’

    Boy, that felt good.

    You were saying?

    Comment by Dave — April 19, 2009 @ 10:45 am

  2. What do you want, Dave? Do you want the children of intermarriage to be lost forever? Even the ones who are still Jews according to halacha? I will never understand people who complain about assimilation but do everything in their power to exclude people like me. Here I am - the child of a Jewish woman - with my own babies, even! Who wants us? Because the branch of Judaism that decides not to be a jerk to my family is the one I’ll participate in. And if they all decide exclusivity is more important than perpetuating Judaism, who’s fault will it be if American Judaism goes the way of the dinosaur? Not mine. Thanks for caring.

    Comment by Sara — April 19, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

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