Sign In Forgot Password

Society for the Advancement of Judaism

A tradition can live only so long as it continues to change.”
  —Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan


Passover Message from Rabbi Lauren

Shalom Hevre,
As Passover begins, and I want to wish you a joyous, sweet, relaxed, and slow Passover.
"Relaxed!?" you may be thinking to yourself. "Passover, with all its preparations and travel and shopping, is many things-but not relaxed!" "And slow? Aren't we supposed to be remembering that we left Egypt in haste?!"
Rebbe Nachman of Bretslov teaches: "Pharaoh is whatever exerts pressure upon us. Our inner 'Pharaohs' are constantly pressuring us to get somewhere; we are always in a hurry. We are impatient and want to do it all now, instantly. This, too, is a form of enslavement we have yet to overcome."
I don't know about you, but I resonate deeply with Rebbe Nachman's teaching. My calendar dictates my schedule- there is very little room for relaxation or spontaneity. And with the pace of my life at an all time high, I find myself getting frustrated when I don't get what I want - a reply to an email, a food order that doesn't come quickly enough, etc - immediately. I often rush from appointment to appointment to school pick-up and then to a meeting and then to the next thing and the next.
If we take Rebbe Nachman's teaching - and its application to our lives-to its logical conclusion then Passover, when we try to free ourselves from the many 'Pharaohs' in our lives, is a time for us to slow down. It is a time for us to begin to free ourselves from the chains of our calendars, the harried pace of our lives, and the demand that we get exactly what we want the minute we want it. I would like to suggest that it be a time, like Shabbat, to "unplug" our ipads, smart phones -- other devices that we love and have value for connecting us to the world- but also that at times distract us from the present moment. I ask you: What might it be like if we brought a different kind of intentionality and energy into Passover, truly let go and felt free?
This Passover, let's slow down and pay attention. Let's give affection and attention to our loved ones and appreciate the special time we have together. And as we acknowledge how our ancestors left Pharaoh behind, let us too leave behind the Pharaohs of stress and anxiety, hurriedness and pressure and find new ways to find peace in the midst of our hectic, daily lives.
Blessings for a wonderful, meaningful and slow Passover,
Rabbi Lauren
P.S. Here are some resources to enhance your Passover Seder:
Hagaddot supplements: There are an array of supplements for your seder, many of which are focused on themes of freedom and social justice. A few of note:; 
If you are hoping to get those kids ready for the 4 questions and/or other great songs for the seder, check out: (Shira Kline's music is also on Spotify and Itunes) and (Elana Jagoda - there are some great additional resources for Passover on her website).

The SAJ Welcomes Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

Rabbi Lauren began her term on July 1, 2015.

Lauren Grabelle Herrmann graduated from The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in June 2006.   After serving in rabbinic internships in Indiana, New Jersey, New York City, and Boston, Rabbi Lauren founded Kol Tzedek Synagogue in West Philadelphia in 2004, along with a handful of community members.  Utilizing her training in community organizing through the Jewish Organizing Initiative  & Network (JOIN), Rabbi Lauren built the community through individual meetings and leadership development.  Today, Kol Tzedek is a dynamic, diverse, and growing community, with over 140 household units (with members ranging from ages 25 to 95) and with over 60 children in its religious school.  

Read more about Rabbi Lauren by clicking here.

Thu, 5 May 2016 27 Nisan 5776