Pesach Reflections — Using our traditions to grow responsible, kind children

By Stuart Diamond

I have fond childhood memories of Pesach. The warmth of family, the long trestle tables and the fabulous food served at Bon Nouvelle in Sea Point each year.

I remember the Seder story and the voices lifted in song over those two nights. It was a time to free ourselves from our usual daily grind. It was freedom to be a family, to engage with one another and a chance to understand how lucky we were to be able to be Jews in a land that gave us the rights to practice our religion in safety. It was a moment to realise how much we have in the present, and how it wasn’t always so.

Today I am a husband and father and I am more acutely aware of this freedom and while I never see my work as slavery, it is such a gift to have quiet family time carved out to observe a holiday passed l’dor vador, from generation to generation, all the way down to my children.

In a world where my work days keep the same hours as a 7/11, this holiday offers so much. For me it is a quiet time where I can pass on traditions and make new ones. A time when I hope that I am nurturing a love of Judaism that they will pass on to their own children. I see Pesach as an opportunity to educate my children about human rights, freedom and responsibility.
I love that they are a little older and can ask pertinent questions. I also love that I can bring to life the story that happened so long ago and use it at a framework to teach my children about huge concepts that will make them kind people.

So this year at my table we will follow the Seder, we will sing the songs and then I will ask my children hard questions they need to answer as responsible citizens of the world. Are we all really free? What can we do to build a South Africa where all our citizens can be free? How can true freedom come at the expense of another? How can we laugh when others are crying?

I will further commit myself to being part of a group of South Africans who have been fighting, and must continue to fight, for the freedom and equality of our neighbours because we can’t be truly free until they are too.


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