The central symbol of Pesach is not the matzah, not the shankbone, not the karpas or the charoset. In my mind, it's the family table. The essence of this festival is our gathering together, embracing relatives, friends and strangers alike as we recount the tale of liberation from bondage. Emblematic of this is the Haggadah's description of the four children. All are present at the Seder -- the scholarly, devout one; the down-to-earth pragmatic one; the silent/ambivalent one; even the questioning, taunting one. All are part of the conversation; all are welcome in the family. As Israeli scholar Yossi Klein Halevi writes, "In the ritual of storytelling, everyone has a voice." Our ability to encompass differences and to come together around a common celebration heightens the beauty of Passover.
I hope that each of you will find time to reflect during this festival on what liberation means to you, and that you'll have an opportunity to share delicious food and good companionship around the Seder table.
Shelly joins me in sending warm wishes for a joyous and meaningful Pesach.