As the Jewish celebration of Passover approaches, it’s hard not to notice how that celebration has parallels with the American spirit.
Passover celebrates the Israelites’ escape from Egypt – and the bondage in which they found themselves there. When Pharaoh refused to free them, God brought about a plague that would take the first-born son of every family. In order to protect the children of the Israelites, he told them to mark their doors with the blood of a lamb so their houses would be “passed over.”
While the history of America isn’t so dramatic, people have always come to our shores to find freedom – and that is something that unifies us. In the early days of our country, freedom was not equally shared among our population, and that could have torn our country apart in the Civil War. Instead, we came out of that conflict stronger, more unified, and more free. Today, many countries hold people back from opportunity, yet America is excited to share it with everyone.
Since 1970, the U.S. has been the top destination for immigrants – and there’s a reason for that. We live in a country that is comparatively and relatively safer and bursting with opportunity, making this a place people want to live, work, and raise future generations.
In a very real way, people come to America so restrictions on freedom as well as physical and economic dangers will “pass over” their children. It’s important that all Americans – by birth or by immigration – remain grateful for the liberty we enjoy.
As a child born in the Soviet Union, Karol Markowicz’s life could have been very limited. However, for a brief period after she was born, Jewish Russians were allowed to leave the Soviet Union. Her family jumped at the chance and came to America. She said, “It’s a big thing in our family to not just think about how things turned out, but to feel how differently things could have gone.”
Around the world, Passover is celebrated with a feast called the Seder during which the story of the Israelites is retold. It reminds us to remember our history, show gratitude for what we have, and come together around the things that unite us in a world that so often focuses on negativity and division. There is so much for every American to celebrate.