WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday extended his best wishes to everyone celebrating Passover around the world, saying "this year, we need the Passover story and the hope it provides more than ever."
"Though this celebration is Jewish, its message is universal," Biden said in a statement. "This year, it resonates anew for a generation that has seen a terrible virus leave empty chairs at too many of our nation’s tables, one that knows the oppression and injustice of our world all too well."
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“Overcoming adversity and finding hope of summoning the resilience and resolve to emerge from a long dark night to a brighter morning," Biden said. He added that Passover is "a story of recognition that our own rights are bound up with the rights of our neighbors, and that none of us is free until all of us are free. It’s a story of faith, a reminder that even in the face of oppression, there is reason for hope."
"As we close our Seders with the familiar refrain, 'Next year in Jerusalem,' we will now offer an additional prayer: Next year in person. Next year, together," he concluded.
Biden's statement follows Thursday's online Passover seder, hosted by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff — the first Jewish spouse of a U.S. president or vice president. At the Seder, Emhoff recalled seders with his grandmother in Brooklyn, delighting in memories of gefilte fish and family traditions of matching outfits. Emhoff also made a point to draw historical links between the women in the Passover story to first responders working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We should also talk about the women who’ve earned their own chapters in the history books, then and now the often neglected women in the Passover story, including the midwives who saved Moses, the mother who nursed him, the Egyptian princess who spared him the pain of slavery, the sister, a prophet in her own right, who watched over him, and ultimately led the Israelites in a song of liberation," he said.
Vice President Kamala Harris told the seder that the powerful Passover story "reminds us of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of injustice. It urges us to keep the faith in the face of uncertainty. And it speaks to fundamental truths. The truths that we all hold dear and must sometimes be reminded of, which is that we all deserve freedom and it’s our duty to fight for those who are not yet free."