Pastor’s Corner – April 28, 2024

For those of you who don’t know, and I assume many do know, this week for our Jewish friends is Passover. It starts at sunset on April 22nd and ends April 30th at nightfall. During this time, Seder meals are prepared and eaten in remembrance of the exodus story, liberation from slavery. It is one of the most observed Jewish holidays for Jewish faith. As Christians, we know Jesus’ last supper was the Seder meal during Passover under Roman occupation and oppression.

Two days ago, Jewish Voice for Peace organized a protest in front of Senator Shumer’s house in Brooklyn NY, to celebrate Passover, raising questions (which is part of the Passover ritual) about what does it mean to share the Passover narrative with one another over a meal that reminds them of journey that led them to freedom, when people in Gaza are suffering and slaughtered, and Palestinians are under occupation and are not free? Naomi Klein (award winning social activist, filmmaker, journalist, writer, and professor) eloquently spoke during the protest, and retold the story of Moses coming down from Mount Sinai in rage when he found his people worshiping an Idol, the golden calf. The ethno-nationalistic project of Zionism, she called it, the golden calf, an idolatry, forgetting that biblical value and faith calls for liberation of all people. Therefore, Zionism is antisemitic as it transgresses all the central tenets of Judaism.  I was profoundly moved by Naomi Klein and the moment in which her speech was delivered. It gave clarity and faith action in its authenticity. 

Then I saw in the crowd, front and center that gathered there my friend and spiritual mentor, Rev. Charles Ryu, whom you met at my installation as a guest preacher! I texted him worried that he got arrested (it would not be his first!) because toward the end of the protest many were by NYPD. He texted me back with words of assurance that he was okay and that to be there gave him so much hope. When the protest started at Columbia University, which is just a block away from his church, he was able to see firsthand what was happening at the protest. He also reminded me that the stories of Jewish students being harassed is not true, but talking points of misinformation to weaponize antisemitism. 

During this Passover, we are witnessing protests and encampments spreading through many campuses all over the country with demands to divest in Israel. We are witnessing the younger generation, students claiming their historic moment to live out the Passover narrative in their lifetime. We who are privileged and want to normalize oppression as business as usual, and have been complicit over the decades that led to the current crisis, can now best serve by stepping aside and not getting in their way into the future of the promised land. Amen.    

Pastor Dae