Ameinu Reconsiders the Four Children of Passover

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At Passover, we are reminded that we Jews are a distinct people with a distinct historical connection to oppression and to the Land of Israel.

This year, the vast majority of American Jews will again sit down with family and friends to retell the story of our exodus from Egypt and of our transformation from slaves to a free people 4,000 years ago. We have told this story for 200 generations and it is our most basic connection to our dual heritage of social justice and to Zionism.

For 200 generations, Jewish parents have told this story to their children, passing our heritage M’dor L’dor, from generation to generation. And as we sit together, all of us are reminded that we are collectively also children, The Children of Israel.

Children play a central role in the seder. It is their prompting with the Four Questions that triggers the retelling of the Exodus. And we are reminded to retell the story so that we can reach the four archetypical kinds of children.

As family and friends gather for seder, most tables also will have four archetypical guests—or “children” — present, representing the four relationships of contemporary Jews to Israel and the Peace Process.

The Sophisticated Child knows all the details of the current negotiations. She has studied the Geneva Initiative, the Oslo Accord, and the Peel Commission. She knows the number of each UN treaty and resolution and knows how Naftali Bennet’s ideas differ from Tzipi Livni’s. She may even have read academic and journalistic publications covering the full spectrum of current events. She has a detailed opinion about the Kerry talks. She feels she has a personal stake in the outcome.

The Exasperated Child is tired of the endless peace process. He increasingly listens to those who blame Israel for the continued occupation and the lamentable condition of the Palestinians. He is being persuaded by those who say that the only way to make Israel return to the pre-1967 borders is by using the tools of boycott, divestment and sanctions to achieve these goals. With each passing year, his anger at Israel and his alienation from the main stream Jewish community grows.

The Faithful Child  loves all things Jewish and dreams of Zion as his homeland. Israel’s achievements fill him with pride.  Israel’s security is close to his heart. He fears the nuclear threat from Iran.  The claims of the Bible to the land between the Mediterranean to the Jordan speak to his pride in his heritage.  Hatikvah brings tears to his eyes, but he sees no partner for peace if that partner will not proclaim that Israel is a Jewish State.

The Silent Child  is not part of the conversation. She lacks the background or interest to follow the elaborate details that the Sophisticated Child cites. She is equally repelled by the vehemence of the Exasperated Child and the patriotism of the Faithful Child. If she is going to be Jewish, she wants to be Jewish without any of the complications that Israel brings. But what does Judaism have to offer her that she can’t achieve with meditation and yoga and working at the soup kitchen? Why bother with all these complications involving a parcel of land on the other side of the world? She comes home for seder for family and gefilte fish.  Could there be more? She doesn’t know.

Here, at Ameinu, we are building bridges to all four types of “children” in our community. Our newsletters, newsmaker interviews and in depth analysis speaks to the Sophisticated Child. We offer her the understanding and insight she craves. This is our prototypical member— this is probably YOU and that is why you are on our list!

For the Exasperated Child, we have developed The Third Narrative that addresses the arguments surrounding boycott, sanctions and divestment and why they are counterproductive.

For the Faithful Child, we offer a more nuanced view of Israel through our Israel Journeys and through our longer term Kibbutz Program Center trips for young adults ages 18-30. We also have developed a study guide for viewing the path breaking documentary, The Gatekeepers,  that details Israel’s internal obstacles to peace.

For the Silent Child, we have our Voices Fellowship program, providing a safe space to talk about Israel, aimed at bringing people back into the conversation through dialogue with peers.

All of these programs need your help to fund them.

That is why, at Passover, we turn to you to ask for your financial support for all that Ameinu is doing to reach out to each type of Jew. Passover is a time of rebirth and renewal.  Help us build, nurture and sustain connections to “our Israel”, across the generations.

We are grateful for your gift of any size. As an incentive for considering a larger gift, we are offering two gifts.

For anyone making a tax-deductible contribution of $150 or more you will receive our booklet:

  • The Third Narrative: Progressive Answers to the Far Left Critiques of Israel.
  • For Contributions of $1000 or more, you will receive The Gatekeepers DVD and the study guide.

Please send in your gift today, either by check or credit card using the enclosed response card and envelope OR via our secure online donation portal.
As we sit down to share seder with family and friends, let us renew our commitment to our dual heritage of Social Justice and Zionism by supporting endeavors that educate and motivate ourselves and our children.

Next Year in Jerusalem, with Social Justice and Peace.

Wishing you a sweet Pesach

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