Dear Members and Supporters,

On Passover, during the Seder, we retell the story of the journey of our people from slavery to freedom. We remember our ancestors and rekindle our connection to their struggle. Asking questions and holding discussion are traditional parts of the ritual of our seder. Indeed the Seder is a ritual built around questions designed to stimulate learning and pass on traditions.

During these tumultuous times, conversation often turns to the Middle East: our worries, our hopes, and our dreams for our people to be free from the yoke of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For some of us, this discussion means arguments in which people often don't really listen to one another. For others, it means trying to change the topic so as to maintain the "calm." Still others eagerly await an opportunity for an honest exchange among family and friends regarding this most pressing issue facing Jews.

The Haggadah itself imagines four different approaches to the Seder ritual through the parable of the four children—one wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who does not know how to ask. We might also imagine four approaches to discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: there are those who approach the conflict from an emotional place, those who come armed with facts and details, those who are too overwhelmed and hopeless to open their mouths, and those who ask "what does this conflict have to do with me?" It is instructive here to consider the model of the parent in the Seder story, who answers and engages each child on his or her own terms, in order to make the Seder meaningful to all.

This Pesach, we urge you to experiment in reaching out to those with different opinions. You might even find that you are not really that far apart.

Here are some suggested questions and comments to get dialogue started. These are just ideas; you can be creative. Your relatives may even surprise you and ask what you think—which, of course, will include your talking about the work of Brit Tzedek!

  • Do you think that we, as American Jews, can be anything more than spectators to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, watching a tragedy unfold more deeply each day?
  • I'm also deeply concerned about the welfare of Jews. What do you think we can we do to best support Israelis in this time of crisis?
  • What exactly do you think is the threat Jews/Israelis are now facing and how do you believe we can most effectively address that threat?
  • What can we do to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict now?
  • Do you think we'll ever be able to tell our children that Jews are no longer at war with our Arab neighbors?
  • Is there any way to resolve this conflict without one side winning and the other losing?
  • Do you really think that all Muslims and Arabs hate Jews and want to kill us?
  • Do you have any Muslim or Arab friends or acquaintances and if not, have you ever considered trying to build a friendship with someone of Muslim or Arab heritage?

I want to wish you and your loved ones a happy Pesach.

Hag sameach,

Aliza Becker
Executive Director
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace


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