Dear Senesh Community:
The story of Passover begins with an inclusive welcome. At the beginning of the seder we say ha lach ma'anya...This is the bread of oppression our father ate in the land of Egypt. Let ALL those who are hungry come in and eat, let ALL those who are in need come and join us.
Everyone is welcome at the passover seder and in fact, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, z”l, said the willingness to share the matzah with others is what turns the bread of affliction into the bread of freedom—we become free when we share, when we are open to and inclusive of others.
Just like the sharing of the matzah, at Senesh all are welcome, all are included. It is through this sharing that Senesh becomes the warm and welcoming Jewish home we all love.
We then move on through the seder and come to the four children—chacham (the wise), rasha (the wicked), taam (the simple) and she'ayno yodea lishol (the one who doesn’t know what to ask). These four children represent four very different people, four very different perspectives on the seder and even on Judaism. Despite their differences, each child is welcome at and becomes part of the Passover seder.
This, too, is much like Senesh. At Senesh we value differences and create a space that honors these differences. In doing so, our community becomes a place where everyone has a seat at the table and, furthermore, it is these differences that make our community complete!
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging have always been central for Senesh, since we were founded in 1995, and we are guided in this area by our diversity statement. As we look ahead, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is a priority area of our strategic roadmap. In the past few weeks our board, parents, and staff have had opportunities to gather and share ideas on initiatives that will advance this work. These conversations were thoughtful, informative, inspiring, and offered important insights for us as we move forward. The focus of our DEI work includes:
- Professional development
- Curriculum audit and development
- Elevating Jewish diversity in our own community
- Parent diversity committee-led events
- Student and staff recruitment initiatives
- Partnerships with outside organizations
For many of us, this inclusivity is why we chose Senesh. The beauty of our community is both the honoring of our differences and the celebration of what brings us together.
Our recent Senesh Seder Stories project and the Senesh Haggadah we created last spring, grew out of a desire to celebrate and share the richness of diversity in our own community and beyond. I hope you will enjoy using these beautiful pieces to celebrate Passover with your families.
As we prepare for Passover, I am filled with gratitude for everyone in this community. We have come through a very challenging year and arrived stronger than ever. As we approach whatever may come in the next year, may we continue to be the warm, welcoming, and inclusive Jewish home that Senesh has always been and continues to be.
Wishing all of you a happy and healthy Passover,