a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and Passover

Posted on: April 12, 2011

A Moses of her time

Today marks the the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  The war that pitted brother against brother, American against American and resulted in the deaths of hundereds of thousands of US Citizens.  We all know how it ended and the battle for racial equality that still rages to this day.  While the slaves of the south were declared free in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclaimation it would be decades before the idea of true freedom would relate to blacks in the US.

Passover is the season of liberation, the season of freedom, the story of the Jewish people’s liberation from slavery.  Did the Exodus really happen? That, I cannot answer because I’m not a scholar or archeology.  It, like many other stories of the Bible are there for us to ask questions, for us to read between the lines, for us to ponder and wonder.  If the Jews were not actually driven out of Egypt by a man named Moses history will tell you that Jews were driven out of many other land for centuries.  The Jewish people were a people without a land until 1948.  A land that belonged to another people who read a very similar book and were also promised by the same God…but that’s not the point of this post.

The story of the Exodus is the story of liberation and freedom based on faith in God’s ability to answer prayers.  When listening to the spirituals of black slaves in the United States the correlation is abundantly clear.

When Israel was in Egypt’s land: Let my people go,

Oppress’d so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.

Go down, Moses,

Way down in Egypt land,

Tell old Pharaoh,

Let my people go


Here Israel refers to the slaves, Egypt and Pharoh represent the slave masters.  I was lucky enough to find a Haggadah this year that encourages participants to sing this song.  As a black woman, learning about Passover this year in relation to the story of the exodus of black slaves to the North American States and Candada has helped me to meld my black identity with my Jewish identity. 

Now, something a bit lighter to end with…


and this too…


and this…


5 Responses to "150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and Passover"

Harriet Tubman was AWESOME. I read a couple books about her last summer. What a wonderful woman!!

Right? I remember reading about her in grade school and being so inspired by her courage and conviction

was it the velveteen rabbi’s? i love her haggadah because it is so easy to connect the story to our lives, right here and now. this year she added poems about the middle east revolutions, for example. it’s my favorite haggadah.

Yes! We’re using her haggadah for our Seder this time around. I really like it, too!

[…] groups referencethe story of the Exodus as one of hope and redemption.  During Pesach I wrote a post about it so I won’t dig too deep.  I still find it ironic and a bit maddening that people […]

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