Despite having lived there for three months, I had a lot of new firsts in Ticalandia this year. One of the most impactful firsts though, was a slightly unorthodox Passover celebration with my best friend. Because she usually celebrates at home and we were kicking it back in Cahuita, we decided to have a celebration using what we could find…which turned out to just be a bottle of wine, and some leftover fresh pineapple we bought on the beach. Good enough for us!
Now, I have a basic understanding of the persecution of Jewish people, and coincidentally, I started re-reading a beautiful novel called, “The People of the Book” on the start of the trip, which follows the history of a beautiful haggadah back through the centuries of persecution of the Jewish people. But the haggadah Jen and I read together that night sent chills up and down my spine on more than one occasion. While our celebration may have been unorthodox in many ways, the resulting conversation and conclusions that we came to as a result are what really matter in this case. The whole thing for me raised again those questions that have continually come to mind about my own identity, and memories of experiences I had growing up experiencing racism.
“…the freedom story of the Jewish people has become the freedom story of all people who have been enslaved and oppressed. The enslaved have been of all colors; they have spoken all the languages of the earth. All have sung their freedom songs in the same freedom key.”
“In every generation the struggle for equality continues.
Though slavery in the United States was ended, Black people are still fighting oppression, as are so many others in the world today. It is true that many people put aside their long-held prejudices to elect America’s first Black president. However, the struggle against racism is far from over. Our own history teaches us we must join this struggle.
Let us drink the second cup to the common heritage of struggle against oppression, and to the unity of all peoples.”
The struggle against racism is far from over…The scary thing is that people think racism isn’t very prominent in our society anymore. But it is very much still the case. I’ve experienced it myself enough in my daily life to vouch for that. Not to mention bigger issues such as the banning on a Mexican American Studies program in Tuscon, AZ, a story that may temporarily have a victory, but with a battle that will continue to rage on as people continue to be ignorant of each other and forge ahead singlemindedly with distrust and hate.
As we delve further into the 21st century and America’s melting pot becomes larger and multiracial families grow in numbers, the question of identity seems to come to the fore even more. And the years that we as a society have spent not addressing this issue, of focusing on material gain rather than deepening our understanding of what it truly means to be a human being, are catching up to us, not just in the form of racism, but in unprecedented violence such as the Newtown shooting.
“The road to justice is long, and the task of liberation, difficult. Still, it is a road we ourselves must travel, and a task that we ourselves must undertake.
As the Talmud tells us, we, like Moses, may not live to complete the task; but neither may we refrain from beginning. Let us drink our fourth and final cup to that beginning. And let us drink to freedom and peace in the world for all time.”
It is a task we absolutely have to undertake. This night has embedded within me a drive to continue on my path or writing and traveling even deeper down than I think I realize…or rather…has awoken and further strengthened my determination to travel and write. I write to share my stories and experiences as I strive to formulate my own identity and further understand our connection to each other as human beings, in the hopes that they will touch my reader’s lives and awaken within them their innate curiosity and love for life. Life is beautiful, the world is beautiful…but as we hole ourselves away, glued to our Iphones and computer screens, we forget the amazing things that surround us. I share my stories with the hope that my readers will be inspired to go experience an adventure on their own, and that they too will find their own voices, their own passions, and share their own tales.
“We wish it could be the end of the story [of the persecution of the Jews], but the Seder is the story of our slavery and our liberation; and that connects us to the stories of all enslaved people. We have said today, “until all are free, none are free.”
Can we say that racism is not as prominent when there is a student body banned from studying their own history? Can we say that we truly understand what it means to be human and treat each other as humans when nuclear weapons are in existence? When public shootings continue to make headlines? Are we, America, truly a free, democratic society?
These few words say it all… “Until all are free, none are free.”
All quotes cited from: Haggadah 2013