Celebrate Passover, Freedom, and Sacred Choices

Annette KochA Passover message written by Rabbi Annette Koch, Samaritan Spiritual Support Counselor, for Samaritan’s Jewish friends and families.


Springtime is Busy Time  

We’re already enjoying the warmer, longer days of April as we eagerly exit the rollercoaster ride of March weather. We feel a renewed burst of energy to care for our yards and take springtime walks. We participate in a whirlwind of activities on the kids’ athletic fields and anticipate the end of the school year, summer picnics, and beach visits. We even begin planning summer vacations and family visits.

As our busy lives swirl around us, as Jews, we also prepare for one of our major celebrations – Passover.

Seder tableSetting the Seder Table 

Seder tables will be set, some with bright white table cloths, sparkling crystal goblets, a beautiful Seder plate and a freshly polished kos Eliyahu, the cup for Elijah, reigning over the table in all its glory. Some will be much more modest. But all of our hearts will be joined as one as we retell the story of our hasty departure from the oppression of slavery in Egypt for our journey to the storied land of Cana’an, a land of promise: the promise of milk and honey, and above all, hope. 

The PreparatioN

Passover was always my favorite holiday as a child. I practiced the Four Questions for weeks, but I had no idea then that my preparations paled in comparison with the work my parents did. Though everyone helped clean the house, suddenly, to my childish eyes, there were different dishes and pots and pans; counters were covered in foil, and food was prepared in the kitchen as soon as it was “kosher for Passover.” Cakes and tortes, briskets and gefilte fish were all homemade. Only the items for the Seder plate were prepared at the last minute. However, our celebration of Passover was a far cry from the hasty departure of the Israelites described in the Torah. 

Passover The Juggling & The Journey 

I knew my parents were busy “making the Seder,” as we said in Brooklyn, but it wasn’t until I had my own household that I realized just how much effort it took. I soon realized that as I got my home ready for Passover, I also began to engage with the symbols of the holiday, which prepare our hearts for the story of our people’s journey to freedom, and our own journey as well. 

The Precious Heart of Freedom

Some may say that at the heart of freedom is personal autonomy: the ability to make decisions for ourselves. The slaves in Egypt were oppressed by their Egyptian overlords, who heaped hard labor on them without regard for their individuality or their humanity. The Israelites’ journey to freedom was dangerous, but they regained their freedom to choose, Torah teaches, between good and evil, between a life lived to its fullest until our very last breath, and a life that isn’t really lived at all, without wrestling with its blessings and its challenges. Passover teaches us that our freedom is hard won and precious.  Our freedom allows us to imbue our lives with meaning and dignity. 

Making Sacred Choices

making choices
To make the sacred choices that will allow us to make the very most of our lives, we also need to be prepared. On April 16, we commemorated National Health Care Decisions Day. National Health Care Decision Day is an initiative that reminds us that there may be a time when we won’t be able to make decisions for ourselves.

Talking about that feels risky and uncomfortable. But like the Israelites in Egypt, we need to choose between blessing and enslavement; between ignoring difficult choices, and taking control of our lives through our choices. 

The blessings of being prepared are many. We give ourselves the gift of peace of mind. We give our families and loved ones the gift of knowing which choices we have made for ourselves. An Advance Care Directive does not limit our choices, but rather makes it possible for them to be respected and fulfilled. 

Fulfill the Mitzvah to Choose Life

By preparing an Advance Care Directive we fulfill the mitzvah, the commandment, to choose life, allowing us and our families to choose the blessings of a life of meaning and dignity. 

As we prepare to celebrate our Festival of Freedom, I hope that you will also consider exercising your freedom to think about and share with those who care most about you, what freedom and dignity mean to you.  

Five Wishes

I want to encourage you to get a copy of Samaritan’s Five Wishes booklet, which will help you through the process of making these very sacred and important choices to make certain that every day we are given is lived with dignity.  I wish you a very happy and sweet Passover, a Passover that leads to a life of freedom, dignity and above all, peace.   

Chag Sameach – a very happy holiday!


Click here to email Christine Corti for a copy of Five Wishes. Please include your mailing address.



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