Last week, I wrote about our obligations (and the joy) of helping refugees to adapt to a new country, especially by inviting them into our homes – to give them a sense of “home” when they feel most alone. At Passover, we always make “room at the table” at our seders not just for our kids’ friends but especially for those who don’t have a Seder to attend. That is one of the key messages of our Passover story. We too were once strangers in a strange land, and we are told in the Torah, time and again, to never ever forget this. So, we look and act kindly towards the strangers all around us.

After that message, a friend/congregant dropped me a note reminding me as well of the Jewish tradition that says that the first step in preparing for Passover is the giving of “Maos Chitim” (charity) to help others observe the holiday properly. Here in Winnipeg, this is a task lovingly taken on by Jewish Child & Family Service.

By coincidence, I had already made a donation for that purpose, and I just received a thank you note from JCFS that indicated I was not alone. They apparently raised $60,000 (!) to support 160 Jewish families this Passover. These small but quiet actions, invariably anonymously, literally change lives. As JCFS describes it, we can create “hope, belonging and connection for everyone.”

All these things truly describe what it means to be in community with each other.

Shabbat shalom and chag sameach (a happy holiday) for all our faith traditions.

Rabbi Allan