By Josh Premako, 4/05/2012
With women’s issues a major part of political discussions in this election year, the coming week of Passover observance is a good point to focus on the biblical role of women, one local rabbi said.
Passover, which begins Friday at sunset and ends April 14, commemorates Israel’s exodus from Egyptian captivity, as recounted in the biblical book of Exodus.
“The story of Passover is deeply connected with women speaking up, protecting their families and protecting other women’s productive lives,” Rabbi Denise Eger said. “It’s very powerful and profound.”
Eger is rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami, a reform synagogue in West Hollywood that is celebrating 20 years in the community.
Central to the exodus story, Eger said, are Shifra and Pu’ah, two Israelite midwives who disobeyed the Egyptian pharaoh’s command to kill newborn Israelite boys.
“It’s takes courage to speak truth to power,” Eger said. “Most people don’t know that the (exodus) story’s filled with women.”
Passover, she said, is a holiday that is about pure freedom — worth noting in a political climate where there’s “an attack” on women’s health-care issues.
On Saturday, Congregation Kol Ami is hosting its 20th annual community seder, a dinner that commemorates Passover. The seder — which means “order” — includes the telling of the story of Exodus, the singing of psalms, ritual blessings over glasses of wine, the breaking of matzo to show brokenness and the dipping of greens in salt water to represent spring.
“And of course, there’s the meal,” she said of the seder, which usually draws about 100 people.
Eger explained that Passover is a vital time to celebrate with family members and bring meaning to one’s life.
“It deepens our bonds of family and deepens our connections with God,” she said.
Congregation Kol Ami’s seder is $75 and scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. at the synagogue, which is located at 1200 N. La Brea Ave. Eger also noted that a number of area restaurants have begun hosting seders in recent years.
The National Council of Jewish Women in Los Angeles is hosting a women’s seder Wednesday night that is reportedly sold out.
Passover is in the middle of the Jewish calendar and Eger said it’s a good time of reflection and “cleaning out the old. It’s also a celebration of rebirth, liberation and really tasting from the cup of hope.”