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Burning a candle for freedom | News, Sports, Jobs – The Adirondack Daily Enterprise

by Arifa Rana

Apr 18, 2022
LAKE PLACID — There was something new on the table at the Lake Placid Synagogue’s Passover Seder this year. Next to the matzah, red wine and parsley, there was a candle burning for Ukraine.
Seder is a meal that celebrates the escape of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt to their liberation in Israel, and freedom was especially topical this year. As some Ukrainian Jews flee the Russian invasion of their country, some see parallels to the story of Passover.
Lake Placid Synagogue Rabbi Alec Friedmann, his wife Sue and a few synagogue members gathered around a table this past Friday to mark the beginning of Passover. People as far as Washington and Florida were tuning in to the Seder ceremony over Zoom, filling their cups of wine and breaking their matzah in faithful solidarity.
Some passages from the Haggadah, the traditional text read during Seder, took on added meaning as Ukrainians half a world away were fighting and fleeing for their lives.
“‘This year we celebrate the Passover and freedom in this country, but are cautious of the fact that many Jews celebrate it in conditions of oppression and persecution,’” Sue Semegram read from the Haggadah, adding, “especially those in Ukraine.”
“‘May it be God’s will that by next Passover, all our persecuted brethren will find a safe haven in the land of Israel,’” she read.
Rabbi Friedmann was reading from a Haggadah that’s been in his family for 325 years. He said it was one of the first Haggadahs that used traditional woodblock printing for the text and copper etchings for the illustrations. At one point, it was restored by a Benedictine monk. Now he’s carrying on the Jewish faith, an act that’s encouraged in the Haggadah.
“‘In every generation, every Jew should look upon himself as though he personally had been redeemed from Egyptian slavery,’” Harris Semegram read. ” … ‘You shall tell your son on that day, saying, it is on account of what God did for me.’”
At that moment, a loon call resounded throughout the room and over the call, punctuating the passage with some added emphasis.
During the meal, some people took turns going around the table and saying what they were grateful for. People voiced their thanks for the dinner and their continued freedom.
“We’re fortunate to be here, that we still are free, and it’s still a democracy,” Harris said.
People echoed “Dayenu,” or “it would have been enough,” throughout the meal. The word is an acknowledgment of freedom and gratitude.
In the synagogue’s April newsletter, Rabbi Friedmann underscored the importance of remembering all of the Ukrainians who are fighting to gain their freedom.
“This year as we celebrate our freedom, remember those who are having their own exodus from Ukraine,” he wrote. “Those who are fleeing persecution and escaping to freedom. Those who are becoming refugees and are seeking a new, safer home.”
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