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Tags: rabbi joseph potasnik | passover | jewish | holidays | freedom | israel | hamas

Rabbi Potasnik to Newsmax: Passover 'Bittersweet' This Year

By    |   Sunday, 21 April 2024 02:11 PM EDT

Traditionally, the Jewish celebration of Passover honors the message of freedom from slavery and hatred, but that story starkly contrasts with the Israel-Hamas war and the rising antisemitism in the United States, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, the executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, told Newsmax on Sunday.

"Passover is predicated on the message of freedom that we were slaves and now we're free, and we've seen hatred in the past, and now supposedly, we don't see it in the present," Potasnik told Newsmax's "Sunday Report."

"We spoke of slaves and now we speak of hostages," he explained. "We spoke of hatred in the past, and now we see rising antisemitism on the streets and campuses. The numbers are staggering. Usually, we say, Have a sweet Passover … [now] it's a bittersweet Passover."

This year, Passover will be observed beginning at sundown Monday and stretches through next Tuesday. The traditional eight-day holiday, called Pesach in Hebrew, commemorates the story of the ancient Jewish people's escape from slavery in Egypt.

Potasnik said that during the Passover sedar, a ritual that includes a holiday meal and the retelling of the story of the exodus, his father, a Holocaust survivor, and their family would say a Yiddish phrase, meaning "We are here, we survived."

That message is important this year, he added.

"We're going to survive this moment as well because of our determination to be a free people ready to practice our faith without imposition by others," Potasnik said. "I was talking to the mother of a person who is being held hostage and she also said 'We continue to pray. We continue to recite psalms. We live. We are prisoners of hope as well.'"

Such determination has inspired the Jewish people to "be here today," he said.

When it comes to anti-Israel protests on college campuses, Potasnik said he's spoken to students who are proud to be Jewish and will not be deterred by those who try to stop them from being Jews.

"But also it's a message to the administrators, to the college presidents," he said. "They have to be protected, these students. I want them to be careful of walking to a classroom. I know those who go to class on Zoom because they don't want to walk on the campus, given all that's going on there."

But still, there are "so many college students who say, 'We will not walk away,"' Potasnik said. "'We're going to walk through this and be strong as we can be together.'"

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Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Traditionally, the Jewish celebration of Passover honors the message of freedom from slavery and hatred, but that story starkly contrasts with the Israel-Hamas war and the rising antisemitism in the United States, said Rabbi Joseph Potasnik.
rabbi joseph potasnik, passover, jewish, holidays, freedom, israel, hamas, war, antisemitism
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2024-11-21
Sunday, 21 April 2024 02:11 PM
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