Every year my family does a big Passover Celebration. As I've said before Passover is kind of like our Thanksgiving. A big group of us get together and we celebrate the holiday, but more importantly we reconnect with friends, eat great food, drink great wine, and give thanks for how lucky we all are to be living in a time and in a country free from religious persecution, and remember that there are many out there at this very moment not as lucky. We still use the same haggadahs as we did when I was a child and they are adorably child-friendly and very 80's in style. They make for a pleasant and laid back sedar that everyone enjoys. We also do our very best to bring the story to life by doing an interactive retelling of the 10 plagues using props scattered around the table.
It may be true that the Jews were never really in Egypt and we weren't really enslaved, and we didn't really build the pyramids. But Jews have been persecuted enough other times in history that we can still know what injustice looks like. My family believes that part of celebrating passover, which is really a celebration of freedom, should be about helping others to become free. In traditional sedars after the meal children search for the afikomen, a piece of matzah hidden somewhere in the house redeemable for a prize when found. When I was 16 my parents began a new tradition where the afikomen would be redeemable for an amount of money that would be donated to the finder's charity of choice. They also hide little slips of paper around the house each representing an amount of money that when found are pooled together and the group of young adults searching for them decides on a charity (or charities) to donate the money to. Every year other attendees of the sedar end up donating money as well and this year we raised $2,500. My friend Laura was victorious in finding the Afikomen and we all talked about different charities that are important to us right now.
We ended up donating $500 each to UNICEF, LA Food Bank, The DC Abortion Fund, Jewish World Watch, and Friends of the Bonobo. All of these charities meant something to each of us and address issues on a global and local level. We talked about the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and then how with Japan getting so much help right now aid for Haiti is still needed so we donated to UNICEF, a global organization that has the ability to help in a big way. We talked about starving children around the world that UNICEF helps and then we talked about how nearly 1 in 4 children in America are starving so we donated to the Los Angeles Food Bank. We talked about our government's budget crisis and how in order to agree on a budget the DC Abortion Fund got slashed and is in dire need of funding. We talked about how while we may be free genocide still exists all over the world so we donated to the Jewish World Watch and their fight to end genocide. Lastly I brought up a new charity that I have recently become very interested in- Friends of the Bonobo. Bonobo's are often referred to as the "forgotten ape" because they are much less known than their cousins the chimpanzee. Until the 1930's they were thought to be the same animal, but they are in fact very different and only found in the Congo. There is only one sanctuary in the whole world that is protecting them named Lola ya Bonobo and they do amazing work protecting the apes and working with the local community to give the Congolese pride in their ecological treasure and supplying jobs and education in the Congo. They don't get very many donations from the US and I was very excited to be able to give them a substantial donation and adopt two baby Bonobos for a full year. All of these are wonderful charities and we were all excited to be able to give something back. For more information on the charities click on their names to go to their websites: UNICEF, LA Food Bank, The DC Abortion Fund, Jewish World Watch, and Friends of the Bonobo.