This month’s holiday is Passover and our book is Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah by Sylvia A. Rouss. A Haggadah lays out the miraculous story of the Jews freedom from slavery by the hero, Moses. This is the story of Passover, a story that is repeated every year by Jews all over the world.
The Jewish people used to be slaves to the Egyptians and their leader, Pharaoh. He felt threatened by these people. He forced them to build cities and palaces for his people. One woman put her son, Moses, in a basket on the river. Pharaoh’s daughter saw the baby and decided to raise him in Pharaoh’s palace. One day, Moses saw an Egyptian beating a slave. Moses killed this man. Knowing he would be killed for this, he fled to the desert where he came upon a burning bush that kept on burning. It was there that he heard the word of G-d who told him he must free the Jewish people and lead them to the land of Israel ( Canaan). G-d was impressed by Moses who demonstrated great compassion when he tried to save a bird caught in the fire.
Moses went to the Pharaoh and said, “Let my People Go!” Pharoah answered, “No”. God placed a plague upon the Egyptians and turned all of the water in Egypt into blood. After the plague, Pharaoh told Moses the Jewish people could go. Then Pharaoh changed his mind. This happened ten times with ten plagues. The tenth plague was the slaying of the first born sons of the Egyptians. Jews put a mark on their doors so that God would “Pass Over” the Jewish houses. Finally with a plague so severe Pharaoh finally decreed that the Jewish people could leave. Jews had been baking bread, but before the Pharaoh could change his mind, they fled and the bread didn’t have time to rise. We call this special bread “matzah”. The Egyptians followed the Jews to the Red Sea where the Jews were allowed to pass when Moses parted the sea, but the Egyptians drowned and Jewish slavery ended.
Passover is the celebration of this miracle. There is a plate with special foods that remind us of the story of the ten plagues, and there Four Questions that are asked and answered. They open a door to let the prophet Elijah in, and as the Seder comes to a close, they sing a special song, Dayenu, to thank God for all the joy in their lives, for bringing the slaves out of Egypt, and for the Torah to guide their lives.
What is the moral of Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah? The moral is that you want to be like Moses, compassionate and brave. Like Moses, you must always fight to be free. Americans are blessed because they are free. Right now the world is going through something very difficult. There is a highly contagious virus that is spreading rapidly. It is called the Coronavirus. Already tens of thousands of people have died from it. What has this done to our world, dearest Elena? It has stripped people of their freedoms. Because it is so contagious people can’t be in crowds and are practicing social distancing. It’s scary, Elena, because the entire world has had to shut down and people are terrified of catching it from each other. It has infected our bodies and minds.
It is important for you to know that Mommy does not believe in being scared. Mommy is continually inspired by the brave Jewish people living in Israel today who must fight for their freedom every day because Israel is surrounded by enemies. If Israelis can be strong in the face of danger, then all people can be brave. We can never allow fear to rule us because this weakens us and can open a door for others to lord over us. We need to be courageous and brave, no matter what.
At night I watch you sleep and think how grateful I feel that I have people I love so much. Your Mommy is giving extra hugs and kisses to you and Daddy right now. That is what people have to remember. They are so scared because they are afraid of losing what is most important to them, the people in their lives. This means that love is always stronger then fear, that fear comes from love.
To my Readers, in this time I ask you to have faith and believe in love. It is truly the strongest force in the universe, stronger then this virus that is scaring us so. Remember, that scientists all over the world are working to find a vaccine as soon as possible that can protect us. May you be comforted by this… And to everyone who has lost a loved one or whose loved ones are sick, I am so, so sorry for your loss.