HIAS is pleased to offer this reading, authored by Rabbi Jennie Rosen, our Vice President of Community Engagement, which you are welcome to download, print and read at your Seder before the telling of the Exodus story.
At the heart of Passover is our experience as refugees — our persecution at the hands of the Egyptians and our ultimate flight to freedom. But Passover is also a festival for children. We recite the four questions, elucidate the four types of children, and, of course, engage in elaborate story telling — all in an effort to draw in the younger generation.
Yet when we think about the Exodus from Egypt itself, there are always plenty of adults present. But imagine if the children had left Egypt alone. What would it have been like if parents had tearfully sent their children on a journey by themselves in an effort to save their offspring’s lives while they remained behind?
This past summer tens of thousands of children made a dramatic Exodus, fleeing unimaginable levels of violence in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These children traveled largely unaccompanied, hundreds of miles to escape fatal danger. They wandered in the desert and came alone to our country seeking refuge.
This Passover as we retell the story of our own Exodus from slavery and imagine ourselves as one of the Jewish men, women, and children who fled and traveled together, let us commit ourselves to learning more about the Central American children who have come this year to our land.
Let us ensure that they are treated fairly and that their request for safe harbor is heard. Let us create welcoming communities where these children can live in safety and loving adults can once again become part of their lives.
This year as we celebrate our own people’s liberation may we rededicate ourselves to today’s most vulnerable refugees so that soon we may all be free.
Ha’laila ha’zeh. On this night we remember what it is like to be a refugee.