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“Next Year in Jerusalem”
Becomes a Reality

After a looooong night of prayers, storytelling, wine,

rituals, songs, 10 plagues, and of course matzo ball soup, brisket, macaroons, and an extra scoop of charoset for the road, our cup literally overfloweth with blessings at Passover.

So why is this night different from all other nights, among other reasons? Because at the end of the seder when we recite, “Next year in Jerusalem. L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim,” these last words are an incredible reality for me. In a few days, I will embark on a journey to see my 24-year-old son Jack who temporarily moved to Jerusalem in August to teach English to Israeli elementary school children and to immerse himself in the culture of his ancestors. It will be 250 days (but who’s counting) since I last saw him as we parted ways at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Gate A16. I will be traveling to Israel with my husband and in-laws, their first time in Israel and my second trip there.

The word “Jerusalem” means the “city of peace and wholeness,” where Jewish people live peacefully in their homeland. Our tradition tells us the Hebrew word for Jerusalem, Yerushalayim, ends with a plural “im” because in reality there are two Jerusalems. The peaceful Jerusalem is where Jewish people call their homeland and co-exist with their Christian and Muslim neighbors; the volatile Jerusalem is where civilian families run to bomb shelters because they are under constant military and terrorist threat. There is the holy place where Jews immigrate to make their Aliyah; and there is the war zone fueled by thousands of years of anti-semiticsm and misunderstanding.

For those of us who live in diaspora, we experience a clash of realities as well. Politically and socially, our communities in the U.S. are divided, and we are better off if we can unite and understand where each other is coming from. Passover is a time for hope and personal growth and to work on what we can do in our lives to set us free from whatever is holding us back, whether that be in relationships, our health, career, family, or a bigger picture the world around us. “Next year in Jerusalem” is a message of hope, too, whether or not we actually travel to the land of milk and honey. I’m grateful that my son has the opportunity to immerse himself in exploring his Judaism in the most religious place in the world. And I’m also grateful that I get to join him in this journey.

As the traditional Passover seder comes to a close, we all say together:

L’Shana Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim