The Jewish holiday of Passover starts at sunset this Friday ? the first full moon of the Jewish month that begins the spring season. Christians observe Easter this Sunday, the first Sunday that follows the first full moon of spring.
Passover and Easter were both my favorite holidays when I was a kid in Atlantic City in the 1950s. During the weeks before these holidays, I and my classmates carefully emptied our breakfast eggs through a small hole, instead of cracking them open. We then dyed them into colorful Easter eggs at our public school. Neither I nor any of my Jewish friends were offended. We enjoyed being part of this beautiful American holiday.
Passover began with a special family dinner at home called the Seder. It included a service designed over centuries to keep Jewish children interested enough to learn the meaning of the holiday. And it was a fun way to get to see my grandparents and other out-of-town relatives.
But Easter Sunday was also a special day for us. We all got dressed up and walked on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. And we said hello to almost everyone we knew. And that first Easter when I walked up to the Steel Pier with a date instead of my parents was as special as a prom.
As I got older, I paid attention to the conversations of the adults at the Passover dinner. My grandmother was always amazed at how much our family enjoyed both holidays, and how lucky we were to live in America.
In bits and pieces I learned how my experiences with these holidays were so different from hers. To my grandmother who lived in Moldavia, a Romanian-speaking province in the old Russian Empire, Passover and Easter were holidays of fear and death.
There was no First Amendment in Russia. The government and the churches were run by a dictator called the Czar. His officials used the churches to get people angry at Jews, rather than the corruption and incompetence of the government.
What they did was like how Democrats today constantly talk of wrongs done by some whites to some blacks more than a hundred years ago. The purpose is for blacks to blame whites for their problems instead of the liberal officials and policies that are truly responsible.
Besides, a careful reading of the Gospels show that Jesus was extremely popular among most Jews of his day ? which is why the hand-picked puppets of the Romans arrested and condemned Jesus on a night when most Jews were home eating and drinking too much wine at their Passover Seders.
The Easter sermons in Moldavia were so hateful toward Jews that it was normal for Jews to be beaten, robbed, and killed that day. During Easter in 1903, dozens of Jews were killed in my grandmother?s town of Kishinev.
Republican President Theodore Roosevelt was the only world leader to publicly denounce this massacre. England and France were silent. They needed Russia as an ally against Germany. And so my family came to America and became loyal followers of the Roosevelts ? even after they later became Progressives, then Democrats.
At the Passover dinners, my grandmother also taught me history that is far different from what is taught in most high schools and colleges today.
Today our kids are taught that my grandmother came to America during an unfair and oppressive ?Gilded Age? of ?unfettered capitalism.? Our kids are taught that most workers and farmers were poor before we had strong unions, an income tax, Medicare, Social Security or Federal Reserve Bank. Our kids are taught that a handful of ?robber barons? who controlled the banks, factories, mines, and railroads took an unfair share of the nation?s wealth.
But every Passover, my grandmother told me that this was a time of great progress and opportunity. Automobiles and electric subways replaced horses in less than 20 years. New electric lights, railroads, trolleys, hospitals, libraries, museums, and parks sprung up everywhere.
While our family faced some discrimination, our family?s life and liberty were never threatened. And they used work, talent, savings, and voting to overcome it.
In 10 short years, grandmother?s family moved from poverty to the owners of a prosperous dairy farm. Most of that generation of immigrants ? Jewish, Italian, Irish ? and blacks from the South had similar success.
My grandmother?s generation is long gone. Who will tell their story now? Who will demand that our children and grandchildren enjoy the same liberty and opportunity?
(Reprinted from April 4, 2012 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/23167-childhood-memories-of-passover-and-easter.html)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.
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