Tuesday, April 3, 2012

You Can't Scare Us We're Stickin' With The Union

 U’shmartem et hadavar hazeh l’hok l’cha ulvanecha ad olam.
And you shall observe this thing as an edict for you and your children forever.

V’haya ki yomru aleichem b’neichem ma ha’avodah hazot lachem.
And it shall happen that your children shall say to you, “What is this service to you?”

Pesach is my favourite holiday. How can it not be? It is the holiday of freedom.  It is the day on which b’nei Yaakov became Am Yisrael. It is the day most deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche.
I hail from good Socialist Zionist stock; raised on the music of the labour movement in English and Hebrew.  Holidays were a connection to generations of freedom fighters, to the union leaders of my grandparents’ and parents’ generation, and to those generations of Jews willing to stand up to oppression from the time of Mitzraiyim until today.  Pesach was the greatest of all.  We sang slave spirituals and labour songs.  We recited a poem called “The Greatest Walkout Ever Known.”
These ideals were thoroughly embedded by the time my own children were born. They learned Woody Guthrie lyrics alongside the Shema. We smiled every time Jesse sang out “You can’t scare me I’m stickin’ with the union!”
Over time Keren moved on from Woody Guthrie’s “Songs to Grow By” to Alice Cooper.  The Beatles are a huge favourite of Gavi’s, and Jesse has discovered classical music.  Still, Pesach is the time we return to our roots.  We are again singing “When Israel was in Egypt land- let my people go…” and “For the old man is a comin’ for to carry you to freedom, follow the drinking gourd. 
We do this because God took us out of Egypt saying to us that we shall follow the mitzvot, especially those regarding the treatment of others, because we were once slaves in Egypt. This is the meaning of this service to us. We understand. We’re not afraid to stand up to tyranny and injustices, and we’re sticking with the union that binds us as a community and a nation throughout history and into the future.