A Connexion to Passover

In early March, I finished 16-week Introduction to Judaism class taught by local Reform Rabbis. I jumped at the opportunity to learn about my Jewish friends’ traditions. I grew up Roman Catholic and only had a surface level understanding of Judaism. Currently, I am 10,000 feet in the air, flying home from the Health Union Connexion conference in Philadelphia. Why am I telling you about these seemingly independent experiences? Learning more about Judaism has impacted my worldview.

Passover begins this coming Shabbat (Sabbath). Seeing several young men with Tzitzit (prayer shawl fringes) filing down the plane’s aisle brought me back a class on holidays. The Rabbi teaching us mentioned that it is helpful to think of the Jewish holiday calendar as a spiral rather than a wheel. His point being that spring brings the same holiday celebrating liberation from slavery in Egypt. However, you are not the same person you were last year. Nor will you be in the same place in life next Passover. People die, children are born, friends or family move to new cities.

Even though you read the same prayers and eat the same ritual foods each year it can bring new and different meanings whether it is your first Seder or your 101st. I find a spiral a much more useful concept that a circle to reflect cycles of life or health.


Which brings me to my initial reflections on this whirlwind experience of the Connexion conference. I learned so much last year that made me a better advocate and writer. I went into this year wondering if it would be worth the time away from home and my full-time job. The answer to that is a resounding YES! Over the last year, I’ve grown to a person who is more in tune with myself. Much like at a Seder table, I see new and old faces at the conference. Unfortunately, some folks from last year are missing for one reason or another.

I got more out of a session by skipping half of it. Settling in the “quiet room” for 20 minutes of the presentation. I am an introvert, networking with so many people left me exhausted. Last year, I sat in another session equally as emotionally drained, the presenter’s words going in one ear and out the other. Learning when to step back gives me the energy to take other challenges. The same quiet room was made available to us last year. I had not found the confidence to avail myself of it.

I am not the same advocate I was last year, nor will I be next year. Some of this relates to the success I’ve seen stepping down my medication. I am cautiously optimistic at the progress I’ve made so far. The experience has empowered me. I realize that I know my body and if I listen to it the sky is the limit. This resonates with the theme of Passover, liberation from slavery into freedom. Medication can feel either like bondage or liberation depending on your perspective, your disease state, and your lungs.

Whether or not you are religious or not, I think an annual event can be a good time to reflect on the past, present, and future. My wishes for a Happy Passover to anyone who celebrates! How have you grown since last Passover or Spring?

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