We live in such comfort in America. We have no fears. We shop effortlessly at supermarkets stocked with Passover foods, much of it imported from Israel. The ease at which we can celebrate Passover in America is astounding. However in Israel, in Jerusalem, in the city that we prayed for and dreamed of for so many generations, Jews are wondering – will I have Passover next year in Jerusalem?
From a bird’s eye view of history, the entire episode is surreal.
We have the first African America President, celebrating a Jewish holiday at his own home. His administration has been downright hostile to Israel’s Prime Minister and Jewish sovereignty over a unified Jerusalem. Two-thirds of Congress support Israel and reducing tensions. Christians for Israel are flooding the White House and Congress with thousands of emails in support of Israel. The vast majority of Israelis and world Jewish opinion are in favor of a unified Jerusalem. Obama got elected thanks to the Jews, who believed him when he renounced Reverend Wright’s anti-Israel “Fall of Jerusalem” speech. But things are looking out very differently. Obama is leading the world in contesting Israel’s sovereignty over her own capital, which is by extension contesting Israel’s entire right to exist.
In every corner of the world, across centuries of mistreatment and persecution, we have proclaimed Next year in Jerusalem at the end of our Passover Seders. It is not just Jerusalem that we are praying about, it is the entire essence of Jerusalem, the holy city, the capital of the Jewish people, the site of our greatest victories and our most bitter defeats. Jerusalem is not some city like Belfast or Berlin. Jerusalem is our holy city, our political capital, the meeting place for the Jewish world, the destination of our pilgrimages, the center of our universe. The next year in Jerusalem that we say at the Seder is a reaffirmation of our psyche, our consciousness, our body politic.
During Seder in the darkened basements in Spain during the inquisition – Next year in Jerusalem. During Seder hiding from Pogroms in Ukraine – Next year in Jerusalem. During Seder behind the Iron Curtain under the totalitarian Soviet oppression – Next year in Jerusalem. During Seder in Auschwitz in the darkest hour of Jewish history – Next year in Jerusalem. During Seder in Jerusalem this year, and every year – Next year in Jerusalem!