By MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
Children’s Defense Fund
Passover and Easter celebrations are times of joyous sacredness with family and community rituals centered on the promises of deliverance, new hope and rebirth – promises we desperately need. As beloved Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said about Easter, “In the middle of our faith is the death and resurrection. Nothing could have been more hopeless than Good Friday – but then Easter happened, and forever we have to become prisoners of hope.”
The American World Jewish Services supplement to their Global Justice Haggadah for Passover in 2020, “Hope Amidst the Tears” said, “In the telling of the Passover story, we recount the oppression that our ancestors experienced when we were slaves in Egypt. We dip a growing vegetable – karpas – into saltwater, to taste their tears of grief mingled with our hopes for life, health and renewal for a more just world.
“This year, the tears are ours.
“They are the tears of the sick and their loved ones who worry or mourn. They are the tears of those who have lost their jobs, are uninsured, live in isolation, or must go to work each day to provide essential services to others. They’re the tears of courageous health care workers who save lives and risk their own.
“We must acknowledge this pain and suffering and allow ourselves the space to grieve. Yet, as the karpas ritual beckons, we must also look toward the future with a sense of hope and possibility. Passover arrives on the precipice of spring, when new growth is just around the corner. All over the world, resilience, strength, compassion and innovation will grow from under this tragedy.
“We honor the tears, but we also bless the hope.”
This holy season portends signs of hope as we strive to live into the meaning of Passover and Easter to combat oppression and injustice and help fulfill the promise of freedom and justice. We must ensure that death-dealing empires and injustice do not have the last word. In our celebrations may we experience new meaning in the present movement and mount new efforts to build a more just world especially for children and families left behind in poverty.
The Children’s Defense Fund’s recent annual State of America’s Children® report showed again this year that children remain our poorest age group and that children of color and our youngest children suffer the highest poverty rates. Shame on us. The pandemic and economic downturn have negatively affected children’s lives in multiple ways but there is hope on the horizon with the passage of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act which seeks to cut child poverty in half. There is hope our nation will continue to confront economic and racial injustices exacerbated by COVID-19. And there is hope of significant action to staunch gun violence in our nation. But we must all raise our voices to ensure that hope becomes reality.
God, guide our faith that by it we might make our children and nation whole again.
God, help us to believe with every ounce of our being that we, with Your help, can save our children and make them well.
God, renew our spirits – Your spirit within us – and make us worthy carriers of Your message of love and hope and life in all we say and do this day and forever more.
Marian Wright Edelman is founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund whose mission is “Leave No Child Behind.” For more information, visit https://www.childrensdefense.org.