Shabbat Shalom: Passover is for Freedom

Apr 25, 2024 | Article

By: Willie Recht
Chief Development Officer

A rabbi once said that Sukkot is for Joy, Rosh Hashanah for goals, Yom Kippur for learning and Passover for Freedom. That makes sense. Freedom—the lack of it, and the freedom to be a Jew safely in this modern world—has been front and center for me this holiday and the many months leading up to it.

I don’t know how many times I have said “October 7th” in the last seven months, but enough to know that our world changed forever that day. And while we continue to mourn the victims and pray for the safety and return of those still held hostage, we are also trying to navigate and live in a world, post October 7: A world where Jews in Europe are being told to hide their Judaism when they go out, and a world here at home where our best, most elite institutions, are no longer safe for our Jewish students and faculty and where support for Israel, the only democracy in the region, is up for serious debate. It is as if the Jewish people, especially those in the diaspora, took a sixty-year step back to a time I have only heard about in stories and movies. I hate that I feel this way, especially now—a time when we gather, but it is hard for me to see the world in another way right now. While there have been joyous times and incredible accomplishments by the Jewish community in the face of this tragedy and hate, and while North American Jews still live with unprecedented freedom and privilege, I cannot help but feel shackled by the anger I feel for the deafening silence of the world and the crippling antisemitism—too often cloaked as anti-Zionism—that has permeated every aspect of our lives.

But we have been here before. And like countless stories we tell on holidays throughout the year, we have not just survived, but prospered. This Passover holiday was an important reminder of that strength and determination and that I don’t have to be held captive by these fears and hate. 

I will not only live my life proudly and publicly as a Jew, but I will also continue to fight for the right for our people, and the state of Israel, to exist and thrive. This is a holiday of the mind. A holiday of strength and perseverance, and as we enter Shabbat, and close out Pesach I will take this with me as we continue to show up and do the work that is needed to do.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

Please email Willie Recht at with questions or comments.