“Ha Lachma Anya”
This is the phrase that is proclaimed at the Passover Seder when the leader of the seder raises a piece of matzah for the first time. The usual translation is, “This is the bread of affliction,” or, “This is the bread of poor people.” But it can also be translated, “This is the bread of ANSWERS.” And today, as we gather at theBroadviewDeportationCenter, we have questions, and we are looking for answers from the Obama Administration.
In the Seder ritual, the youngest person present asks four questions, that are subsequently answered during the evening. We also have four questions today:
Why are deportations continuing at a rate of 400,000 a year, when the vast majority of detainees are law-abiding residents, working productively, and raising families of American-born children? Y
Why are detainees continuing to be held as a prisoners, under draconian conditions, when government officials have promised that detainees will be treated as status offenders, NOT criminals? Y
WHY ARE FAMILIES STILL BEING TORN APART, impoverishing spouses and children, creating social chaos and burdening local governments and social services? Y
WHY DOES THE PRESIDENT NOT HAVE THE COURAGE TO SIGN EXECUTIVE ORDERS THAT WILL STOP DEPOR-TATIONS & PUT A BRAKE ON THE PRISON INDUSTRY? Y
Four years ago, when President Obama was CANDIDATE Obama, a small group of his young Jewish staffers gathered in the basement of a hotel to share a impromptu Passover meal. As they were about to begin, Senator Obama entered the room and asked, “Where’s the Seder?” And he stayed to celebrate the Jewish holiday of freedom with his staff. Since then, the Obamas have hosted a Seder at the White House each year, inviting friends, colleagues and various Jewish leaders. THIS PRESIDENT UNDERSTANDS, as few presidents have, the meaning of the Passover Seder, and how the values embodied in the Passover holiday propel us to take up the cause of those who are enslaved, who are marginalized, who are scapegoated for being “strangers.” On this Passover holiday, we call on our President to be a MOSES, not a PHAROAH: To care more about those who are enslaved under our present immigration policies, rather than cater to the oligarchs who will disrespect him NO MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE HIS ADMINSTRATION DEPORTS. The Passover Seder traditionally ends with the words, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Let us add: “Next year may we celebrate an end to useless deportations and an end to America’s version of the Nuremburg laws, as we rededicate ourselves to that Biblical verse engraved on the Liberty Bell: PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND!” CHAG SAMEACH —May we continue to ask questions, and create the answers that lead to freedom.