Passover Learning, Celebrations, and a Special Visit at Milton!
April 25, 2022 by
The days leading up to Passover are always filled with excitement, but today it was next level – Milton was honored to have a visit with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff!
When we began planning our Pesach assembly a couple months back, we had a great lineup of songs, a flash mob, and an epic round of “Echad Mi Yodeah” (“Who Knows One?”). It was going to be kind of a pre-holiday pep rally. We did all of that this afternoon – just punctuated by a visit from the Second Gentleman! Mr. Emhoff came by to get a little taste of Pesach at Milton – it turns out it was in the form of a piece of matzah right off the fire where he was cooking with some of our fourth graders . . .
During his brief time on campus, we shared the ritual objects – Seder plates, Haggadot, Elijah’s cups, matzah covers, divrei Torah, journals, and board games – that our students created and are bringing home to share at your Sedarim. He reminisced about his favorite holiday of Passover, the experience of never getting to say the four questions (his younger brother is only 20 months younger), the plastic coverings on his grandmother’s Brooklyn couches where they went for Seder, and, of course, the brisket.
In some deeper conversations, Mr. Emhoff and our eighth grade students spoke about the powerful storytelling that happens at Pesach about the journey to freedom, and he emphasized the work that is required to get there. Students spoke about the importance of questions and questioning – both in our tradition and our democracy. The students reflected that Passover has the dual effect of both reminding us how far we’ve come and encouraging us to continue pushing forward toward true freedom. Mr. Emhoff drove home the idea that they are responsible for how our world evolves, that they cannot sit back and let history happen, but need to be active in creating the story they want to see enacted for their future.
Pesach celebrates the end of slavery and the beginning of our journey to freedom, not the culmination of it. It is a long, hard, and sandy road toward redemption – with some flat stretches and other uphill climbs – during which the Israelites had to unlearn the habits of enslavement, resocialize themselves, and persist toward their ultimate goal. As Mr. Emhoff’s historic visit reminded us today, the American road to democracy and equality is a similar topography – moments when it feels too hard to move forward, when we consider turning back to what was – and yet it’s our responsibility as Americans and as Jews to continue to persist. May we all continue to travel that road together.