Chag Pesach Sameach!
My first Seder was enjoyable. It was a community one. There were people from my congregation, the Methodist Church which provides us with a shelter to hold services until the shul can be repaired, and volunteers who are helping the Mississippi Coast recover.
Turns were taken to read the Haggadah and most shared stories from prior Passovers. The funniest was the young adult who shared how when he and his siblings used to fight over who was going to be the simple son, the wicked son, etc.
At my table were two officials from FEMA. One of the women has been on the Mississippi Coast since September and the other since December. They help cities wade through all the regulations. They seemed hesitant to say who they were with. FEMA has been receiving a lot of flack. I told them I was grateful that FEMA was down here and thought that given the scope of the disaster from Hurricane Katrina, FEMA did amazingly well. When you figure that 400,000 people from the Mississippi Coast were directly affected, the response of FEMA has been extraordinary. When you factor in the 1.5 million from the New Orleans area, it becomes mind-boggling at just what FEMA had to contend with.
Comparisons were drawn between the Passover and Hurricane Katrina. Both were life-changing events. After Katrina, it is very easy to imagine what it must have been like when everything had to be packed up and taken in a hurry. The questions must have been asked then as to what to take. What is essential? What must be left behind? What will the future hold? Will any be lost? These questions run through my head every time a hurricane threatens.
Like the first Passover, I learned that food, clothing, and cash are essential on your journey. The most precious items were my family, my pictures, and my genealogy research. They were taken. Everything else was left behind. Like in that first Passover, I still do not know what the future holds for us on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But like Moses and the Hebrews that passed over into freedom, I go with faith in G-d keeps His promises. That the future holds a land of milk and honey. It might take us almost as long as the 40 years to recover, but there is faith and hope. That is the essential truth of Passover, hope for a new life away from whatever keeps us as slaves and that G-d will lead us to a new land.