It is very early for me to start cleaning for Passover. It’s not even Purim yet. But I am doing a tightly focused cleaning of my old ideas, before I get ready for ritually crossing over the sea at our Passover seder and moving together with all other Jews in my future.
Most of us have well-formed ideas about people in the Jewish community who are different from us. My Buby (grandmother) used to tell me that anyone whose Jewish ritual practice was more exacting than her was a mishiguna (a crazy person), and anyone whose ritual practice was less exacting than hers was an apikorus (an apostate). Doubtless, my Buby felt that she identified and practiced the happy medium between tradition and modernity.
I am not as sure of myself as my beloved Buby. We live today in a community where diversity of philosophies and practices among us is the norm. We often put people into categories based on little information. For me, it’s very important to keep the circle of inclusion as wide as possible. Strangely, it has been our enemies, the antisemites, who act on their perverted beliefs that we are all the same and all deserve to suffer the same dark fate, who put me in the same position as them – with a vital difference. We are all the same Jews and we all deserve to be safe and feel safe.
So I am just like the Ashkenazim and Sephardim, the mitnagim and the hassidim, like the heredim and the modern orthodox, like the conservatives and reconstructionsists, like the reform, even like the secularists, the atheists and the humanists. I am even like the religious and non-religious anti-Zionists. Those are all my people to the antisemites, and they are all my people to me.
So it’s definitely time to rid myself of ideas that lead to rejection of my sister and brother Jews. We are, each of us, individuals on our very long journey between yesterday and tomorrow.