Jewish communities the world over commence the eight night, eight day celebration and observance of Pesach (Passover) this weekend. While rich with symbolism, this is more than an exercise in symbolism, but a lesson in history, freedom, and perseverance.
The Israelites, having been slaves in Egypt for greater than 400 years, after wandering the wilderness for an elongated period of time, took their freedom for granted and wanted to turn back to the land they knew and the provisions they were guaranteed. But thanks to the guidance and leadership gifted to Moshe (Moses) by G-d, the Israelites persevered, reaching the Promised Land after a 40 year sojourn in that wilderness.
In spite of attempted mutiny, in spite of the Golden Calf, in spite of Moshe losing his temper and smashing the tablets of the Ten Commandments upon seeing that idol, the Israelites persevered.
Always the underdog, almost always outgunned, the Jewish people persevered. David slew Goliath with but a slingshot; the Maccabees, a group of between 800 and 1,000, defeated the Assyrians, 40,000 strong, in 174 BCE (3586).
In 1938, the National Socialists of Germany - the Nazis, enacted the “Weapons Law” imposing gun restrictions against the Jews and other “non-citizens.” Note the use of the word “other,” as naturalized German-Jews were stripped of their citizenship in July 1933, and in September 1935, the remainder of the German Jewish community was denied its last vestiges of its citizenship. In November 1941, the last few rights of those remaining Jews in Germany were stripped from them, as well as declaring all German Jews living abroad no longer citizens of the Reich.
Unarmed and unable to fight back made the Jewish population easy prey for the Nazis to, at first, destroy property, businesses, homes, and synagogues; arrest Jewish citizens for any or no reason; beat them in the streets; and ultimately deport them by tens and hundreds of thousands forcing them to abandon virtually all their possessions, not to mention the already absconded with dignity that placed them in such precarious circumstances in the first place.
The vast majority of German Jews were secular, blending into German society. The approximate Jewish population in Germany in the 1930s ranged between 505,000 and 850,000 out of an overall German population of between 62 and 67 million - hardly recognizable - 0.013 percent of the population at most. Yet, the continued scapegoats throughout history, the Jews not just of Germany, but the world, were the bane of the existence of Hitler.
With regard to the “Weapons Law,” Hitler wrote, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so.”
When we think about Pesach and freedom it is vital to recall the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that occurred from April 19 to May 16, 1943. April 19, 1943 was the eve of Pesach. This was the Nazi’s final efforts to liquidate the Warsaw Ghetto, that heretofore saw more than a quarter million Jews of that ghetto transported to Treblinka and their ultimate slaughter. The ragtag band of several hundred resistance fighters, armed with a pittance of weapons garnered from a precious few anti-Nazi Poles, held off the SS forces fortified with tanks and artillary for nearly a month. More than 50,000 Jews were captured during this uprising and either murdered on the spot or sent to Treblinka to be gassed upon arrival.
Today the State of Israel, founded in 1948, is a reminder of both the failures and the successes of the Jewish people throughout history. How it learned not to live in victimhood, but, as former President Ronald Reagan said, with “Peace through strength.”
Ah, the lessons of history. Fast forward to 2021 and the United States. The leftist progressives are attempting the same coup - disarming the American people in an effort to rule with an iron fist in an authoritarian manner as the so-called cancel culture continues running roughshod over the Constitutional rights of the American people.
How did a couple hundred Jewish freedom fighters keep Hitler’s tanks, artillery, and well trained soldiers at bay for nearly a month? Perseverance, a healthy dose of prayer, and of course, weapons. This is a major reason the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution exists - to protect the citizenry from an overzealous, authoritarian government. The Bill of Rights tells the government what it can’t do, not what the people can do.
Jewish Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter reminded this to the American people, as he wrote in 1946, “We are in danger of forgetting that the Bill of Rights reflects experience with police excesses. It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom. ...History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.”
Consider the brazenness of the current administration in their frightening zealousness to deny the American people the right by which to protect ourselves, thus ultimately turning us into subjects, and no longer a free people. We the people must no longer be complacent toward, and complicit with, a government big enough to give us everything we want, and also powerful enough to deprive us of everything we have - including, but not limited to the First and Second amendments.
We must furtively protect ourselves from this administration and its so-called woke supporters who favor the coming ghettoization of this country on two fronts. On the US-Mexico border where thousands upon thousands of illegal aliens continue invading this country, including thousands of unaccompanied minors putting themselves at risk of rape, slavery, trafficking, and even murder.
On the domestic front, places such as Columbia University are intentionally ghettoizing themselves with at least six segregated graduation ceremonies. By their own choosing, they are reinstituting the same “separate, but equal” that was legalized in the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, then overturned in 1954 by Topeka v. Board of Education. Setting themselves back 125 years, Columbia will have graduation ceremonies labeled Native American, Lavender (LGBTQIA+), African-American, Latinx, Asian, and Lower Income. It is this brand of self-imposed Balkinization that will continue to weaken and destroy the fabric of America.
On this, and every Pesach, as we read in the Haggadah, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat; all who are needy, let them come and celebrate Passover.” As we unite to celebrate Pesach, even if, sadly, via Zoom, we celebrate the spring, a renewal, a rebirth, a renaissance, and even the coming Opening Day of baseball season, in the hopes of maintaining our precious freedoms.
As Ronald Reagan so aptly stated, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
Wishing one and all a happy, healthy, and meaningful Pesach.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.