Jewish observance of Passover during persecution including the Crusades, Inquisition, the Plague, Civil War, Warsaw Ghetto, concentration camps,

Celebrating Passover Amidst Difficult Circumstances

In this time of uncertainty, Moment is working hard to provide you with fact checked news, resources and analysis—plus some lighter fare—to help us make it through the crisis together. Click here for our ongoing coronavirus coverage. On the first night of Passover, we ask this question: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” This year, that question takes on significant new meaning. It is not about the rituals of Passover, but rather about the unique situation in which we find ourselves as we celebrate the holiday. The tradition of gathering together for the Passover meal has gone by the wayside; we are forced to separate ourselves to fight a deadly virus.  Indeed, this Passover comes amidst difficult circumstances. But it is not, by far, the first time Jews have celebrated Passover in trying times.  From the very first Passover,...

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Confronting Passover, 1865

By 1865, it seemed self-evident that American emancipation resonated with biblical emancipation in powerful ways. But it had not always been so: This new resonance of meaning captured the hearts of American Jews only during the vicissitudes of the Civil War. Before the Civil War, most American Jews did not oppose slavery. There were exceptions, but most Jews voted Democrat, and Democrats were tolerant of slavery. The anti-slavery parties were tarred with nativism, which was distasteful and threatening to a Jewish community composed largely of immigrants and first-generation Americans. And many, including such luminaries as the Reform rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise and the Orthodox rabbi Morris Raphall, considered acceptance of American slavery consonant with the Bible, which documents slavery and sets parameters for its practice within the Israelite community. 

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