On April 22, Jews around the world will gather for Passover Seders. These festive, ritual-rich meals celebrate the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery in Egypt some 3,300 years ago. One of the most recognizable practices of Passover is Matzah, the unleavened Passover bread. An iconic product enjoyed by Jews and non-Jews alike, it’s known in its simplest form as the flat cracker that decks out supermarket displays each spring season. It’s also the star ingredient in “matzah ball soup,” which is known as the Jewish penicillin that soothes our ills. You don’t have to be a Jew to either know what matzah is or to use it in your life.

In addition to Matzah’s iconic cultural status, it also contains a profound lesson about humility and how Jews today can respond to antisemitism. In Jewish tradition, matzah is referred to both as the "bread of affliction" and as the "bread of freedom." Historically, the name “bread of affliction” arose from the fact that matzah was what Jews ate as slaves in Ancient Egypt for sustenance. It got the moniker “bread of freedom” because Matzah was also what the Jews carried with them to freedom after the Exodus.

This Passover, let us embrace the 200-year-old Passover lesson about positive and proactive thinking. Just as our perception determines whether Matzah represents affliction or redemption, and a chair can be used to draw attention to joy and happiness or pain and suffering, we can bring this mindset into all areas of our lives and our Jewish practice. Let us choose the proactive, forethinking, and creative option in all areas of our lives.

If you know someone who doesn’t have somewhere to go for Passover, invite them to your Seder. If you don’t have somewhere to go, join Chabad of Fairfield’s communal seder on April 22, open to all Jews regardless of affiliation. We’re ready to share not only delicious food but the spirit of Jewish unity and freedom. 

And most important of all, let us live lives that are defined not by adversity but by the richness and depth of our traditions. Let us choose to be proactive, not reactive, in our celebration of what it means to be Jewish today.