Editor's Corner

Freedom Festival

The hardest thing about publishing a monthly magazine is that we sometimes have to go to press without knowing the answer to the question that will be foremost on the readers’ minds when the issue actually comes out. Because the Israeli elections take place on March 28, our readers will know the outcome of the elections before they can read about them on these pages.

To predict the outcome of the election without actually knowing feels like reviewing a book or movie without reading it. Although the pundits have ideas about the winners, we prefer not to be wrong.

Instead, the April issue focuses on a book every Jew has read countless times and the holiday associated with it. Why do we read the Haggadah year after year? Why does Judaism insist that we should feel that we are actually part of the Passover story?

Passover is about the privilege and responsibility associated with freedom. Because God freed the Jewish people from the Egyptians, we are obligated to keep reading and telling the story as if we had experienced it ourselves. It is everybody’s story, regardless of one’s level of comprehension, as related by the tale of the four sons, and it is the obligation of parents to help children of all ages to comprehend its importance. Although we hear it year after year, the message is critical, the insights are timeless, and the words have greater impact with repetition. The preparation is part of the process too: the rituals of cleaning our homes of any trace of chametz and eating special foods are part of the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being free.

Congregations and organizations in Orange County are gearing up for Passover in a big way. Most synagogues are holding community seders, and many are sponsoring educational programs as well. Some organizations are sharing Passover with our non-Jewish neighbors. Speaking of sharing, Karen Green lets us into her kitchen for some sumptuous Passover side dishes, and Barbara Boarnet offers tips on making the seder more meaningful and less stressful to young children. Barbara also talks about the way Camp Silver Gan Israel/Hebrew Academy’s Matzah Bakery teaches children about Passover in a hands-on workshop, the focus of our cover story. Columnists Rabbi David Eliezrie and Elliot Fein provide their special insights on the meaning of Passover, and Andrea Simantov offers a nostalgic look at Passovers past.

Perhaps it is easier to understand the importance of freedom when its absence is so harmful to us. Following closely on the heels of Passover is Yom HaShoah, which commemorates the Holocaust. From the chilling and compelling tale of Irvine resident Isi Nussenbaum, author of He’s Not coming Here Anymore: A Survivor’s Story (see book review on page ) to the eyewitness account of Whitney Harris, the only surviving member of the prosecuting team at Nuremberg Nazi War Crimes Trials (see Social Roundup on page ), we get to hear from people who actually were there. Understanding suffering from the perspective of someone who endured it, we are even more convinced of the need to maintain a free Jewish people and a free Jewish land.

On behalf of the Orange County Jewish Life team, I wish everyone a happy and kosher Passover. I also encourage people to get involved in the many events this community offers to observe Passover and Yom HaShoah. May the memories of all of your ancestors become part of you, and may you teach them diligently to your children.

For feedback, contact editor@ocjewishlife.com.

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