To be read after the 10 Plagues or at another appropriate time during the seder. The actions we are promoting below deal with policies to save lives. Inspired by the principle of pikuach nefesh, saving a life, we are taking the unusual step to ask you to take action during the holiday. Please consider pausing after the reading for people to connect to the link below to take action. This will take only a very few minutes. Alternately, please share the action request and link below with all those participating in your seder – and other people you know – so they can participate in the action afterwards.
In the fifth chapter of Exodus, after Moses and Aaron have first asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, Pharaoh increases the work of the slaves in making bricks, by making them first gather the necessary straw, and still make as many bricks in a day as they had before. Today, too, many people’s work is increased as we face the coronavirus pandemic: frontline and essential workers are working in more dangerous and stressful conditions; parents are now also teachers and childcare workers, even as they work other jobs from home. Students are studying and managing their lives under stressful, changed conditions. Many are caring for loved ones in ways we are not trained to do. Spending more time at home is welcome for some, but in general, demands and stress levels have risen.
All of these stresses come on top of the inequities of our society, disproportionately impacting people who are already at increased risk. The Passover story calls us to build a just society. During this period, the California Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-CA) is engaging Californians to respond to the crisis by advocating for policies to save lives and bring relief to people who are suffering – you can see the new RAC-CA Legislative Agenda at www.rac.org/CAlegagenda. Inspired by the Jewish principle of pikuach nefesh, the primacy of saving lives, we are taking the unusual step to ask you to take action during the holiday.
Our current action calls on Governor Newsom to reduce the population of state prisons and provide for the safe reentry of those released in order to protect those who are incarcerated and those who work in prisons and to prevent state prisons from becoming an ongoing source of contagion. Your voice matters. Please use this link www.rac.org/CAaction to send an email thanking Governor Newsom for his leadership and urging him to act boldly to protect prison inmates, staff and the public. You can read background information on this issue at http://www.rac.org/CAprisons.
Passover celebrates the birth of the Jewish people, with the understanding that we find our liberation together and not alone as individuals. We too will get through this difficult time by supporting each other and taking action together.