Rescued from their hand

May 14, 2023

Passover 2024 is in the books. This year, at our second annual First Night Passover Community Seder, we hosted more than 70 people. It fills me with pride knowing that this seder provided so many with the opportunity to honor the traditional Jewish celebration of freedom, all the while knowing that there are some Jews who are not free – those being held hostage in Gaza, and not able to celebrate this year.

I think about the families, particularly the parents of the hostages. As a mother, I understand the impossibility of feeling joy when your child is suffering. As a mother who has lost a child, I know the weight of grief as you navigate your life without the life you created and nurtured.

We only want the best for our children. We want them to have a better life than we did.

We are privileged in this country – the United States of America. The First Amendment of the Constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We have been witnessing the interpretation of these rights on college and university campuses throughout the nation. To me, it seems these basic rights of Americans have been grossly misinterpreted by the youth of our county.

I support the protesting of things that one might feel to be wrong. I realize that our college/university students are the demographic who feels the brokenness of the world and the urge to rush in and make it right. I support the right of anyone on any side of this conflict to protest and advocate for their position, whether I agree with it or not. But these protests cannot continue this way.

What exactly are they protesting? I have yet to find a clear, concise answer to this question. If indeed they are seekers of peace, it is important that the message they are conveying is not one affiliated with hateful narratives.

The right to assemble in peaceful protests has disintegrated into anything but peaceful. I cringed when I saw photos and video clips of the rage that has evolved during these protests and rallies.

What are the parents of protesting students on college and university campuses feeling these days? Are they supportive? Are they proud?

And the Jewish students. Are they counterprotesting? Are they cowering? Are they equipped with the knowledge and tools to uphold their beliefs and stand their ground? Are they able to use their rights and privileges afforded by their tuition to continue with their learning and experiences on campus? Are the parents of the Jewish students fearful? Are they supportive? Are they proud of the way their child has reacted?

It is not a new story. In every generation we have faced vitriol and hate. We have fought back with grace and intellect. I do not know the answer, but I do have faith that as we have for thousands of years, we will survive. As we read in the Passover Haggadah …

“And it is this that has stood for our ancestors and for us, since it is not [only] one [person or nation] that has stood [against] us to destroy us, but rather in each generation, they stand [against] us to destroy us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hand.”

Please feel free to reach out to me at the Federation office, on social media, or email –

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Sad situation, Maxine. You are saying a number of things that need to be said but sometimes aren’t. A couple of additions…The hateful demonstrations are not entirely organized by, and composed of, students. It is well known that they are funded and organized by “outsiders”, and according to various estimates half of the demonstrators are not students at all. The other complicating factor is lightly touched upon in your fine commentary, and that is the near absence of a serious Jewish response. Unfortunately the PR war is being overwhelmingly won by the demonstrators and Jew haters and even after seven months American Jews have failed to set the record straight in a strategic and united way. Hence the message of our adversaries is allowed to stand and echo across America influencing those who are ignorant, intentionally or otherwise, increasing exponentially the number of antisemitic instances.