Come to Our Seder!

by Rabbi Ari Isenberg

Born and raised in Montreal, I sometimes turn to one of Montreal’s great poets (or, prophets) for words of wisdom. Leonard Cohen famously wrote, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

One of the many symbolic rituals during the Passover Seder is the breaking of the middle matzah into two pieces. We take the larger broken piece and hide it, for later on it will become the afikoman as the youngest members of our households race to find it. It’s a fun, jovial moment, yet its meaning is profound. I recall once learning that it is often a form of brokenness that sends us on a journey. To be sure, the Israelites – after enduring hundreds of years of slavery – were broken, depleted, and it was in such a state that they journeyed to liberation. Could it be that acknowledging the brokenness in our lives is the first step in launching ourselves on a journey to wholeness?

This will be the second successive Passover when many of us feel a sense of loss, sadness, brokenness, and isolation due to the lingering pandemic. Recognizing and accepting this reality, we will not only ensure that we remain safe and healthy, we will also journey together toward a better day, a day of liberation, a day of inoculation, a day of health and safety. The Passover story reminds us that the brokenness is as much a part of the story as is liberation. It’s ok to acknowledge it and to feel it.

Still, there is what to celebrate this Passover — the blessing of family and friends, even those from whom we remain physically apart. The blessing of technology that allows us to remain connected in unexpectedly meaningful ways. The blessing of health, at a time when so many are suffering. The blessing of being part of a Jewish tradition that constantly reshapes itself to fit the ever-changing realities of the moment.

In the CBI 2021 Passover Guide (CLICK HERE), you’ll find details about the many programs that our clergy and education teams are holding on and around Passover. They include singing with Cantor Wallach, a full day of Passover learning for every age demographic, a parking lot fire pit to burn your chametz, and for the very first time, a special offering on the second night of Passover:

Rabbi Ari & Gila Isenberg invite you (yes, you!) to join them in their home, at their table, for the Second Seder.

On Sunday, March 28th, at 7:30 p.m, Gila and I invite you to join us on Zoom for the Second Seder. Whether you’re setting a table for 1 or for 10, it would be our honor to host you online as we conduct the Second Seder. RSVP by contacting Joi Noel, our Clergy Administrator, either by calling the synagogue office or by email,

Chag Sameach!

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This column first appeared in the March/April 2021 edition of The Bulletin.