The holiday of Passover just ended, and I am full of rage.
This is not how I usually feel after Passover. In my family, Passover is the holiday we look forward to all year. Inspired by the tradition of making people in each generation feel as if they personally were freed from Egyptian slavery, we act out the story with elaborate costumes, props and special effects; this year, we built a neon-painted Egyptian palace in our basement, along with 400 yards of suspended blue yarn representing the parting of the Red Sea. It’s silly, but it works: my children all feel, viscerally, as if they have left Egypt, that their lives are unfolding in the promised land.
This Passover, however, ended with an unhinged gunman opening fire in a synagogue outside San Diego, killing a 60-year-old congregant and wounding several others, including an 8-year-old girl — six months after another unhinged gunman did the same thing in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11.
For most Americans, this was just another dismal news headline. For American Jews, though, it was something much, much worse: a confirmation that the Pittsburgh attack was not a one-off, that our cherished belief in America as an exception in Jewish history might be a delusion.