Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Longago Passover Memory



Years ago-- 1969-- I had just graduated YUHS, and discovered the "Jewish Liberation Project." I was post-Orthodox; they were Hippies, of the sort I had seen in magazines, but never up close. I was ready to embrace the Movement.  


Vietnam was roiling, Nixon in the White House, and I wandered the streets of NYC like a lost soul, with an Anchor Bible under my arm-- I was taking a Comparative Lit course at NYU that summer, I think. I was lost and lonely, a 21-year-old who had just left a majorly intense Religious Experience which, in High School and College, had lasted eight years, including one in Israel. 

I went to the JLP's Freedom Seder that spring, in a big, nasty loft on Lower B'way. I sat alone; no one spoke to me. The food was meagre; we weren't there for the food; we were there to liberate ourselves from American Capitalist Society (I suppose; no one said anything about Why We Were Doing It). They passed out copies of The Jewish Liberation Hagada; some of the participants went on to become Big Noises in the Leftwing Jewish Community. 

I did my reading; no one spoke to me. Hippie bullsh*t. I don't care if you are progressive or Orthodox or pearls drop from your mouth: show a little derech eretz, a little menschlichkeit, a little humanity: if you see a stranger in your midst, say hello. 

I never went back. 

I was liberated.