Four Questions for a New Time
©Jan Moidel Schwartz
Why is this night different from all other nights?
On all other nights, we have been complacent; we have let our fellow citizens down, young and old,turning a blind eye to the cause of sensible gun ownership regulations and firearm safety. On this night, we pledge to take action to stop the insanity of guns and terror in our schools and streets.
On all other nights we eat leavened products and matzah; on this night only matzah.
On all other nights, we have been complicit in accepting that the status quo is all there is. We have forgotten where we came from and how we got here. On this night, we pledge to take action, to remember that we have power to change what we cannot abide, to demand our leaders give us more than partisan answers.
On all other nights we eat all vegetables, and on this night only bitter herbs.
On all other nights, we have been content with our portion, and not taken our obligation to be active in our democracy seriously. We have taste d the bitterness of tears, watching children die in schools and streets, and parents wailing for their loss. On this night, we pledge to take action to create a more perfect union by working to protect our children, the future of our country.
On all other nights, we don’t dip our food even once; on this night we dip twice.
On all other nights, we have been complacent in not caring about those who have less than we do. We have indulged our desires, without thought and compassion, for those who are suffering. On this night, we pledge to take action to help stem the tide of poverty, illiteracy and homelessness.
On all other nights we eat sitting or reclining, and on this night we only recline.
On all other nights, we have been comforted that the issues of others are not our concern; that guns, poverty, homelessness do not affect us. On this night, we pledge to take action so that we may teach our children and our children’s children that this is why we were given this special night.
I have been moved to tears by the determination and speed with which the students of Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School created a force for good after the horror that beset them in February. As the mother of a millennial and the daughter of an immigrant, I feel tremendous admiration and pride that this new generation believes in their mission, foisted upon them in tragedy, that they can make the changes they deem necessary to effect a more perfect union.
As Passover and Easter arrive, and the world remembers, rejoices and renews, children are at the heart of these holidays. At the Passover Seder, early in the evening’s retelling of the story, the youngest child stands to ask four questions, based on a simple premise: Why is this night different than all other nights? And the rest of the Seder is designed to answer them.
Our children are asking us why, and now is the time, now is the moment to answer them. What will you tell them?
I dedicate Four Questions for a New Time to the students of MSD and to all children everywhere.
May you only know Shalom, Peace.
Jan Moidel Schwartz is with Haven Road Philanthropy Partners.