In the aftermath of the attacks of October 7th, Danya and I discussed the possibility of spending Pesach in Israel. Danya has two brothers who live in Israel with their families, and we knew the coming months would be incredibly difficult. If the rest of Danya’s family planned to go to Israel, we felt we should join them, to allow her brothers some normalcy and familial intimacy in a time of trouble and heartbreak.

I proposed this idea to Rabbi Shapiro a few months ago, knowing it meant he would be the only rabbi here for Pesach. He graciously agreed and gave me time off to go. So Danya, the two boys, and myself, will be spending Pesach in Jerusalem this year.

This is quite a surreal experience. The first Yom Tov since October 7th. The first Holiday of our Redemption since we have felt so abandoned, in a country that feels less liberated than it did this time last year, and as of the writing of this article, with a war that is still going on, and with hostages still not returned to their families.

What should we make of Pesach this year? We need to remember that, unfortunately, our people’s history has been filled with Pesachs like the one we are currently facing. Jews have had to celebrate Pesach in difficult circumstances. In the immediate years after the two Temples were destroyed, the people had to figure out how to celebrate the holiday without its centerpiece, the Paschal Offering, in addition to the Exile and suffering that they were facing.

When Crusaders marched through Europe, slaughtering communities, and leaving Jews weaker and in a more dangerous social position than before, the Jews celebrated Pesach.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal, and Jews had to either find new homes in new countries or hide their Judaism from the Inquisition, the Jews celebrated Pesach.

When Khmelnytsky and the Cossacks marched through Ukraine, causing the destruction of much of Jewish life, the Jews celebrated Pesach.

And when the Nazis spread across Europe, inciting people to fulfill their worst impulses on the Jews, and leading to the destruction of 6 million Jews – as many sat in the ghettos, not knowing their fate, the Jews cele-brated Pesach.

The reason it still felt meaningful was one of my favorite passages in the Hagaddah, and it is with this message I will leave you:

And it is this that has stood for our ancestors and for us; since it is not [only] one [person or nation] that has stood [against] us to destroy us, but rather in each generation, they stand [against] us to destroy us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hand.

Danya, Yair, and Ra’anan join me in wishing everyone a Chag Kasher VeSameach. May we merit to spend next Pesach in Jerusalem together.