Once we were taken out of Egypt, the Exodus became our go-to reminder of who G-d is and what He has done for us as a nation. We remember our enslavement and the miracles G-d performed in our daily prayers, in Shabbos kiddush, and, of course, on Passover, when we have special instructions to feel as though we ourselves have been freed.
We do something unique as a nation. We remember and tell over our history nonstop, but we also live always moving forward toward the next redemption. Our historical memory powers us, gives us a shared identity, and hopefully, shapes our choices.
In this generation, we have the opportunity to take our memory of persecution, ancient and recent, as a directive to intervene in the enslavement of another people. Uyghur Muslims in China are being persecuted and enslaved for their faith in ways that are all-too familiar. Forced labor, sterilization, abortions and disappearing dissidents are some of the horrors we know about. A great way to start getting informed is with the special online haggadah with Uyghur testimonies that Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom assembled, which will be part of my Passover this year.
How can we think about others in a time when many of us are, ourselves, experiencing such darkness? In the trying depths of World War II, Winston Churchill said, “These are not dark days; these are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank G-d that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.”
Our history has never been just letters in a book, just a story or just a ritual. Let us remember to make these great days memorable for how we transform them.
Maayan Schoen graduated from Torah Day School and Atlanta Jewish Academy and studied in the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women in Israel. She is a second-year student at Yale University.