Celebrating Freedom in Tense Times
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Celebrating Freedom in Tense Times

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the globe. The situation is concerning, but at Passover I remain profoundly joyful.

Eric M. Robbins is the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

Eric M. Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Eric M. Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the globe. Fears once seen as “Europe’s problem” were stoked anew when the world’s oldest hatred found its way to my hometown of Pittsburgh this fall, and more recently, as local incidents aroused concern in Atlanta.

The situation is concerning, but at Passover I remain profoundly joyful. My optimism rests on the incredible freedom we enjoy as Jews in America.

Our freedom is expressed in the abundance of creative and traditional Passover seders happening here in Atlanta. There’s the Downtown Seder at City Winery that brought musicians, artists, Jews and non-Jews together. There are women’s seders, hunger seders, sober seders, even a unity seder where Jews and Muslims break matzah together. Once again at [Camp] Ramah Darom, hundreds of families from all over will enjoy communal seders and a chance to learn and explore Jewish life with top scholars and rabbis.

At my seder, we use the Hartman Institute’s haggadah, “A Different Night,” and we have a tradition I love of writing our names and the date on the inside cover. It’s how we chronicle the names of our “tribe” and remember the ones no longer with us.

As a ben chorin (free person) at Passover, I can express my Judaism without constraint. Yet I also know that I am never “free” of memory, or of the responsibility to care for my people, particularly when their freedoms are at stake. That is the precious gift America bestows on all of us.

Have a sweet and meaningful Passover!

Eric Robbins is president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.

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