'To defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.' - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Passover is a much anticipated Jewish holiday that celebrates freedom and the courage to fight for your individual and community rights. Around the Seder table, in all corners of the world, the mood is joyful as songs are sung, prayers chanted and blessings recited. But beneath the din is a sober lesson about the history of survival of the Jewish people.
The story that unfolds in the Hagaddah serves as a timeless lesson about the power of education. Our ancestors, even while living under adverse conditions as slaves in Egypt, succeeded in providing their children with a strong Jewish education, impacting not only their personal knowledge and identity but ensuring the continuity of the Jews by strengthening the larger community.
Today's children are tomorrow's parents. They are the guarantors of the Jewish future. When children truly understand why freedom matters and how it was achieved by the Jews in Egypt, it sticks with them through life. That's why throughout the Seder, the different generations around the table focus on the youth - encouraging and welcoming their questions and participation throughout the evening.
The foundation of any community is only as strong as the conviction of its members. And it is through education - informal and formal - that a community not only survives but thrives in the face of obstacles and dangers.
These are stressful and unusual times. There has been a resurgence of individual and institutional antisemitism and acts of violence and terror in all corners of the world. As a community, we must hold true to the intrinsic values of Judaism and wholly embrace the Jewish imperative to change the world. As we continue to educate our families about Jewish history, we will continue to reinforce the foundation of the Jewish people. It's not only our duty but our privilege.
May you be blessed with happiness, peace and good health on Pesach and always.
Julia Berger Reitman - Chair, Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA