Matzah on a white plate with two orange tulips placed at the top

Two Poems for Passover Reflection

By Rabbi Stephanie Crawley

Praying in a Pandemic

Sometimes Egypt is a place on a map for us to trace its borders
And sometimes it is a space held in time for us to always leave
And sometimes it is a mythic adversary in the battle of hard hearts
And sometimes it is my open concept kitchen
Where I lead prayer each week

It isn’t so bad, here
I’ve even decorated it

I just can’t leave
Not yet –

Not safe to sing
Not safe to take glorious deep communal breaths
Not safe enough to be together

So I harmonize with my refrigerator
Thank my tziztit for sweeping as they graze the floor
And make my table into a sanctuary once again


My mother named me for her sake and not for mine

mar -bitter

Like the maror you will eat one day at the seder that barely mentions my name

She named me for her bitter life
For the taste of blood that the slave driver causes
For the taste of salt tears
For the forgotten taste of freedom

And She named me for what was but she also named me for what could be

yam -sea

Like the place that would come to be my liberation that you sing of each day

She named me for freedom
For the sweet waters of redemption
For the pools of my tears I now dance in
For the waters that taught me I could be held without being constricted

And she named me in defiance

myr – beloved

Not in her mother tongue but in the Egyptian language

I carried a symbol – a testament
That when you say my name you will know that
nothing about this captivity shutter our hearts
Will keep us from loving our children
From the words of care shared between a mother and her daughter

We are (still) human because we love

I am Miriam –

I am named for the bitter and for my one day hoped for sweet freedom waters and
I am named for defiant love

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