It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Fun*Run Time

It's ALREADY that time of year again: The ADAPT Fun*Run for Disability Rights is April 22nd 2012. Maryland's fundraising goal is $8,000 this year. Yes, that's right, $8,000

Donate $1! Donate $10! Donate $100! Donate $1,000! JUST DONATE so we can FREE OUR PEOPLE! I thank you very much for your support!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My First Ever D'var Torah: Next Year May All my People be Free! (a twist on Thankful Thursday)

[In simplest terms, when someone gives a D'var Torah they take the week's portion of the Torah, talk about it, and relate it to everyday life. It's like a sermon, except that usually only clergy give sermons but anyone can give a D'var Torah.]

Tonight is the first night of Passover (or Pesach), a Jewish Holiday celebrating something I maintain never happened. During the week we're supposed to be celebrating the exodus from Egypt and all that jazz. I've been told it was farmers who built the pyramids during their off season, not Jewish slaves. I get that version better.

I don't follow Passover very well. I eat things I know I'm not supposed to eat and I go to class on the days that more observant Jews would not. I just don't have it in me. This is another instance of "torture" from my childhood. When someone tells you NOT to eat something, you just want to eat it MORE. I know, I'm a grown-up, I get it now. Not eating some foods for just one week is not the end of the world. But if I don't believe the story, if my heart's not in it, I maintain that it is pointless to go through the motions just for the sake of going through the motions.

That is, until the other day. I go to the Passover Seder because I go to the Passover Seder-- to be with my family and/or my friends. Not that I particularly want to go and sit through the whole thing, but I like the company, and I guess the tradition is nice too. This year friends were not an option and family was not my best option. The third option was to go to Hillel, where I used to go with my friends before they graduated. I didn't really want to go and just be around casual acquaintances, that's not what holidays are about, but I felt really odd ditching a seder, even though they used to feel like torture. It would have been the first time in my 24 years that I wasn't at at least one seder, unless you count the fact that I was born right smack in the middle of one. Obviously I wasn't present that year (FYI today is my hebrew birthday. Most people don't know their's. Helps to be born on a holiday). So I found friends and talked them into crashing Hillel.

My friends are ADAPTers. The other day I was talking (probably whining) on the phone about how much I hate Passover and how there were many years when I was a kid that my actual birthday coincided with my Hebrew birthday (made it by 4 days this year!) and I was not allowed to have a real cake (nothing with yeast all week). "But I love Passover," I got on the other end of the phone. Why would anyone in their right mind love Passover? It didn't take long for the click in my head. She's an ADAPTer. I'm an ADAPTer. I got it.

This week we're celebrating our people being freed from bondage, the end of their (supposed) dehumanizing treatment by the Egyptians. We're supposed to be thankful that we are where we are right now (in freedom, in nice suburban life) because of those who came before us and what they went through. To make it more meaningful and more relatable, some people use the Holocaust as a tie in to more recent history. Maybe a little about Darfur or the treatment of women in Afghanistan.

Nothing ever clicked from any of that. But I had my click on the phone. Passover really is a time to be thankful. I am where I am right now (literally a University library) because of people like Ed Roberts and Justin Dart fighting tirelessly to get laws like the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA, not only passed, but implemented as well. It's not some made up magical story from thousands of years ago, or even something not so old but that doesn't affect my life directly. It's my truth, my reality, something very tangible, and something not to forget. Because if I forget then I forget about all of my brothers and sisters still in institutions today. I forget about the people whose families cannot visit them often because of transportation or other barriers, I forget about the people who end up in life threatening situations due to their lack of care while in these institutions, I forget about the people who feel hopeless and helpless, who are sitting and dying instead of fighting to live.

At the end of most seders people recite a very simple phrase. "Next year in Jerusalem." It's the land of our people and represents our freedoms. My friend said she says "Next year lets FREE OUR PEOPLE!!!" I agree.

[funny story: I was interested in a good picture of ADAPT's Free Our People guy for this post. Thought of taking a pic of the shirt I'm wearing. Nah, I'll google image. Low and behold, my very own drawing pops up. DUH!!! previous post here]


rickismom said...

Hey, I didn't know you where Jewish! Happy birthday! (I squeezed through Passover with two pregnancies, giving birth right after.....
Why do you have so much trouble believing that the Israelist were enslaved in Egypt? Given history, its NOT very far fetched.
I see Passover not only as a festival for freedom, physically... but also as a time to aim to free ourselves of our self-imposed demons, addictions, fears, etc.

Laura said...

Awesome post and contribution to the DBC!

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