4 April 2023
Pesach and Freedom are synonymous. Freedom relates to Pesach. Freedom also relates to WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation).
We may question what freedom is? Freedom is when someone has the power or right to act, to speak or think as he or she wants and is also the “state of not being imprisoned or enslaved”.
This story of Pesach tells of the exodus and liberation of the Israelites from Egypt during the empowerment of the Pharaoh which leads in itself to the sudden rebirth of being a free people.
This story gives us the connection that we have to WIZO. Women leave their imprisoned and abusive environments and desperately try to find freedom after being shackled in a non-harmonious environment. They bravely turn to WIZO where they receive the assistance to get back on their feet, to be themselves and to ultimately become upstanding citizens contributing to Israeli society. It really is a wonderful story just as the freedom of the people from the land of Egypt is a story of its own.
Moses led the people out of Egypt (with the help of Hashem) by casting ten plagues upon the Egyptians in order to free them from the reign of the Pharoah, a reign of bitterness, pain and suffering. Similarly, WIZO, in Israel, assists women and children escape the harsh realities of their lives by placing them in a warm and loving environment in order to help them to heal. WIZO accepts the responsibility to bring freedom where there is oppression and to assist those oppressed to walk away from their very painful environments to freedom just as happened in Egypt. In this way WIZO assists those who need it the most just as Moses assisted those who needed it the most.
Freedom is exceedingly important to us all. It is a precious commodity that we treasure and strive to preserve and protect. It is based on the idea that we all have choices and should we choose correctly, we are able to free ourselves to live meaningful lives. These women who choose to help themselves enter programs held by our WIZO and end up improving their lives radically…. something extremely special!
On the streets of Israel many Israelis have been brutally murdered in terror attacks and attacked purely for being Jewish. This puts all Israelis at risk as they go about their daily lives. All these people wanted to live normal lives but ended without their freedom. Similarly, the Israelites in Egypt wanted to live normal lives but they lacked the freedom. Israel is a strong country and Israelis are consistently exposed to this abhorrent violence as they are in other parts of the world outside of Israel. We mourn the senseless loss of life and we grieve with all those affected and at the same time we wish deeply for a fair and free society for all in Israel just as the Israelites wished for a free and fair society out of Egypt and in that same land of Israel.
So, what are the major concepts of Pesach. Perhaps they are Optimism thereby giving hope to those who need it; Family and friends – giving others the feeling of having people around them who care about them as well as a place to celebrate Pesach and finally Responsibility to Others; this is an important commitment and that is where our commitment in the name of WIZO lies.
With this in mind, together with WIZO South Africa, I wish you and your families Pesach Sameach as you join together with family and friends to share the wonderful traditions and the food and to ponder at the same time the meaning of Pesach which encompasses freedom, optimism and responsibility.
President WIZO South Africa