Urgent message:

It’s hard to believe that after all these months since the murderous attack on October 7th, that the most challenging situation in Israel continues, not only with little prospect of resolution, but now the active attack from Iran. I urge all to continue to pray for the bereaved families, the hostages, the missing and the many casualties.

If possible, please recite Psalm 121 (Hebrew/English ArtScroll Siddur, p. 534-535) and Psalm 130 (p. 540-541) at least once a day. Please also try to perform additional mitzvot, send funds to help the needy and grieving families, and attend the rallies that are being organized in support of Israel.

May the Al-mighty protect the State of Israel, its citizens and bless it with peace!


The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Rav David Lau has composed a prayer to be recited preferably after V’hee Sheh’ahm’dah “This promise made to our forefathers,” at our Sedarim for the release of the hostages. V’hee Sheh’ahm’dah is found after the Four Sons, and is recited while the second cup of wine is lifted. If you have reached the part where the Haggadah talks about Laban, you have gone too far.

You can find the prayer in Hebrew and English here. Please print out the prayer before Passover.

“In Every Generation”
(updated and revised from Passover 5765-2005)


The first two days of the wonderful and joyous festival of Passover will soon be upon us. How exciting, especially in these most challenging times.

As Jews have done for more than a millennium, we will once again raise our cups and recite at our Passover seders the dramatic declaration, וְהִיא שֶׁעָמְדָה–“V’hee sheh’amda”–boldly stating that despite all the challenges and trials of Jewish history, the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people has stood loyally for our forefathers and for us. שֶׁלֹא אֶחָד בִּלְבָד, עָמַד עָלֵיֽנוּ לְכַלּוֹתֵנֽוּ… וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם, Time and again, the nations rise up against us and try to destroy us, but each time the Al-mighty saves us from our enemies’ hands.

How unfortunate it is that this ancient declaration about the enemies of the Jewish people rising up to destroy us in every single generation is still so true and exceedingly palpable today, and during this past year more than most.

Mattis Kantor, a Chabad rabbi, originally from Australia, has written a very useful outline of Jewish history originally entitled the Jewish Time Line Encyclopedia, republished as Codex Judaica, in which he demonstrates that in virtually every age and every generation, the nations of the world tried to destroy a Jewish community somewhere, and not infrequently, all Jewish communities everywhere, but thank G-d, the People of Israel managed to survive.

The following thumbnail summary of Jewish history should drive home this stunning point:

The enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt that began in the year 1430 BCE was followed in the year 1312 BCE, by Amalek’s attack on the feeble, the old Israelites and the children. In the year 586 BCE the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Temple and less than 70 years later Haman tried to annihilate the entire Jewish community in all 127 provinces of Achashverosh’s kingdom. It was in the year 167 BCE, that Antiochus and the Syrian-Greeks outlawed the practice of Judaism, and in 70 CE, Titus and the Roman legions destroyed the Second Temple.

Many thousands of Jews were killed when the Bar Kochba rebellion ended in defeat in the year 133 CE, and the Romans refused to allow the Jews to bury their dead. The Jewish community in Israel (renamed Palestine by the Romans), was harshly persecuted and the center of Jewish life shifted to Babylon.  The rise of Islam in the early 7th century led to the persecution of many thousands of Jews throughout the Arabian Peninsula. In 1095 CE, Pope Urban urged Christians to launch the first of several crusades to free Jerusalem from the Muslims, during which tens of thousands of Jews were tortured and murdered, as the Crusaders made their way to the Promised Land. In the Middle Ages, the Jews were expelled from England, France, Hungary, Austria, Spain and Portugal. In 1648, the Cossacks in the Ukraine, led by Bogdan Khmelnitsky, massacred the Jews by the tens of thousands. And finally, of course, in the years 1939 through 1945 six million Jews, men, women and children, were murdered throughout Europe by Hitler and his Nazi hordes.

One might have thought that after the Holocaust a contrite world would have put an end to Jewish hatred and anti-Semitism. No such thing! Soon after, the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab countries started attacking and terrorizing the fledgling State of Israel, attacks that continue, and increase in intensity, to this day.

And yet, the Jewish people survive, and even thrive!

The Jewish people’s survival is one of the most profound anomalies of history. The famed British historian Arnold Toynbee called the Jewish people a “fossil of civilization,” because he could not comprehend why the Jews had not disappeared from the face of the earth long ago. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, Angles and Saxons no longer exist. Only the Jews survive–not in large numbers, to be sure, but survive they do.

But more than our external enemies, the greater danger that lurks for the Jewish people has frequently been the internal enemy—Jewish illiteracy, assimilation and apostasy. Some students of history have calculated that, despite the frequent attacks by the enemies, the massacres and the pogroms, given the fact that the Jews constituted about 10% of the ancient Roman Empire (about 7 million Jews), at the beginning of the first millennium, there should be about 500 million Jews in the world today. Where are they? Unfortunately, most of them have disappeared largely due to ignorance and assimilation.

How tragic it is that we Jews who have survived the most brutal and pernicious attacks of our enemies, allow ourselves to be destroyed through ignorance, indifference and lack of commitment. In the year 1940 the rate of intermarriage among U.S. Jewry was “only” 6%. By 1990 it had soared to 52%! Today, among the non-Orthodox it is above 70%!! We have lost far more people to the blandishments of outside culture than we have to the swords and brutal weapons of our enemies. Every few years we reach a new level of shocking indifference. Today, we have reached a point in American Jewish life where there is no longer any sense of shame for those who choose to marry outside the faith. One need only peruse the weekly society columns where the most noted and venerated Jewish families proudly announce their children’s intermarriages without a shred of shame or guilt.

How tragic it is that while G-d’s covenant has stood by us–we Jews have not stood by G-d’s covenant? When our enemies rise up and try to destroy us, G-d somehow saves us. But when we consciously allow ourselves to disintegrate, G-d does not intervene–because He has given us free choice.

And so perhaps the holiday of Passover that is widely known as the “Festival of Redemption” should be renamed the “Festival of Self-Redemption.” Perhaps we need to realize that while G-d has taken us out of Egypt, Egypt has not necessarily been taken out of us. The time has come for the Jewish people to firmly acknowledge that all the matzah balls and all the macaroons will not save us from extinction unless we add to our gastronomical delights a serious “spiritual diet” of intensive learning and Jewish education.

Today we are all justly focused on Israel, and the lethal threats that our beloved Jewish state faces. As I have often stated, that in all of Jewish history, there has never been a period of peace for the Jewish people without a concomitant return to G-d. Peace for the Jewish people is not a factor of military prowess, or keen diplomatic strategy. It is dependent upon the Jewish people’s relationship with G-d.

This is the challenge of Passover for us in the 21st century. And although things seem grave and bleak for us at this moment, they were even graver and bleaker for the ancient Israelites in Egypt before the exodus. It worked then, and it will work now. Let us not despair, for there is still hope, great hope, that G-d will redeem us, but only if we first redeem ourselves.

May you be blessed.

Please note: The first two days of the joyous festival of Passover will be observed this year on Monday night, April 22nd and all-day Tuesday and Wednesday, April 23 and 24, 2024. The seventh and eighth days of Passover begin on Sunday night, April 28th, and continue through Monday and Tuesday, April 29th and 30th.

Wishing you and yours a healthy, joyous and peaceful Passover!