In the Book of Exodus, we read that when the Hebrew slaves were finally able to break free from Pharaoh’s grasp, a mixed multitude of people fled Egypt with them. From our first moments as a nation, we discovered among us a mixed multitude of slaves and refugees, people of different languages and beliefs, journeying with us into the unknown wilderness.
As a people, we have always been a mixed multitude, and internally, each of us here, at this Lit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. tonight, is a mixed multitude of sorts.
The quintessential Jewish leader who spoke face to face with God, unlike any other prophet, and who freed the people from Egypt, led them through the desert for forty years, and received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. His Hebrew name is Moshe. himself embodied incredible internal diversity. He was educated by royal Egyptians, taken in as a homeless wanderer by polytheistic Midianites, and ultimately embraced by the Hebrews he led into freedom. With his Egyptian adoptive mother and his Midianite wife and father-in-law, Moses’s life was shaped by the teachings and love of different civilizations.
All of us here tonight, whether we are Jewish or of a different identity, or of a complex identity of many influences—all of us have blessings to offer the Jewish people in its ongoing mission to bring the justice and freedom that Passover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc). demands to every part of the world where oppression and inhumanity still prevail.
In our lives we have all been wanderers of one sort or another; we have all felt the pain of being the stranger; and we have all sought to escape bad situations and find liberation of one kind or another. Tonight we ask God to bless all of us, and especially to bless those among us who do not identify as Jews or solely as Jews, with the blessings of freedom and the courage to seek that same freedom for those who are still denied it. And we ask God to bless us all with the ability to see that together—as the mixed multitude we are today—we continue to weave the Jewish story that seeks liberation and dignity for all.
By Rabbi Maurice Harris of Interfaithfamily.com.