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Freedom exploring freedom in confined times

Passover is a holiday with many names.

One of them is, zman heruteinu זמן חרותינו - "the time of our freedom". But this year, the holiday will happen within the confines of self-quarantine as we keep our distance from one another.

We aren’t free to spend hours running around to specialty stores searching out the exact lamb shank or perusing aisles at the wine shop in preparation for our forthcoming four cups.

This year, we have sacrificed most of our personal freedoms for a common good.

Right now, the Passover story of moving from captivity to freedom feels closer than ever.

How are we experiencing freedom at this moment?

How have your definitions of freedom changed?

Where are you finding choice amidst all the chaos and when is it right to give up your freedom for the sake of the common good?

In this spark, we will explore the value of freedom/herut from the abstract to the concrete.

We will ask what freedom means to you and examine ways that it is showing up for people right now in this moment in time.

Our exploration begins with some music...

Let’s tune-in to our Rebbis - Dolly Parton, Al Green & Meir Ariel and more.

Art has always been a powerful medium for exploring freedom.

For some artists, their messages on freedom can be found in the medium itself. What materials are they using? What forms are they using to express their work? We have found several images that lend themselves to different notions of freedom.

Without worrying about getting the right or wrong answers, choose one image that resonates with your definition of freedom. What story is the image telling you?

Respond to the following prompts:

Freedom is…

Freedom is not….

My personal experience of freedom is…

Let’s now move from music and the visual arts to poetry.

How do our ancestors describe freedom?

What were their worries and concerns that affected the ways that they looked at Jewish texts?

Click below to read through a collection of sources from the Talmud to Adrienne Rich to see how they define freedom.

We have provided some questions to guide you through the texts. But of course, feel free to follow the text wherever it takes you.

Let’s revisit the first text on Freedom from Pirkei Avot 6:2

Perhaps one way to read this text is that there is a relationship between freedom and engraving. In order to truly be free, you must write down what you are seeking freedom from and engrave it - you must commit to your freedom and turn it into a covenant - a promise for yourself and others. The notion of ‘engraving’ implies permanence, that the commitment can be held onto in the future.

So what freedom(s) are you committing to this Pesach?

What are you willing to engrave and hold onto?

Follow these instructions for making your own inscription.

Once you're finished, add your image or object to your Seder Plate.

What are some concrete ways in which people are experiencing freedom in this moment? Most of us haven’t had to struggle for our freedom, it has always been present and expansive. But now, freedom means something different for people. So here are a few examples of how people are expressing freedom in this moment.

You have probably already seen this video by Natan Sharansky about how to survive Coronavirus. But in it, he argues that freedom is never giving up your sense of humor.

See below for 4 other tips on how to survive Corona.

This year, freedom might be suggesting a change in religious practice, perhaps the granting of permission by some to use Zoom to connect with family and friends during the Passover seder.

See here for some rabbis’ reasonings for the ruling.

For many, freedom is leading your own seder for the first time.

Seder will surely be different this year and is leaving many of us wondering how we can do it alone. This year we have the freedom to practice how we see fit, to offer our own interpretations of the Exodus story, create our own rituals.

See here for tips on leading your own Passover in the Corona era.

Happy Passover

חג חירות שמח

May this Pesach we all find our own form of freedom and may we exist alone and together in our own individual palaces of love that can create shelter for all humans to grow and thrive.

Looking for inspiration on the many ways to use this Value Spark? We put together a list of our ideas to get you started.

From your fans at M²