Jews around the world spent this past weekend at our Passover Seders celebrating our march from slavery to freedom. Meanwhile, it appears the rest of the English-speaking Twitterverse has been busy commenting about the Festival of Freedom. From these tweets, this Jew learned several lessons.
1. ‘Star Wars’ Has a Jewish side
Apparently, there are Passover-specific Star Wars jokes, like “Darth Seder: May the force be with Jew.” And they’re not bad.
2. The Toronto Star Needs More Religious Literacy
The Toronto Star ran a correction last week after suggesting that Jews serve bread for Passover. As their correction noted, “leavened bread is not permitted during Passover.” Apparently, last year’s kerfuffle over Manitoba’s New Democratic Party Caucus tweeting out a picture of challah, the braided bread we use every Sabbath, was too quickly forgotten.
3. 2020 Never Sleeps
A politically involved family in New Hampshire hosted Mayor Pete for a Seder; we know because they posted a pic. That may nudge the mayor ahead of philo-Semitic Sen. Cory Booker, who wished us a sweet Passover in Yiddish, but did not appear to be celebrating the holiday along with us.
4. Manchester United Is More Jewish Than Nancy Pelosi
The British soccer team fittingly wished Jews a “Chag Kasher vesameach” — a happy and kosher holiday — while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simply wished “the very best to all marking the start of #Passover.”
Best wishes are polite but completely generic. That is to say, there’s nothing exactly wrong with Pelosi’s message, but let’s be honest. I expect more from the leader of the party that’s home to 75 percent of America’s Jewish voters.
5. We Need New Passover Graphics
The graphic accompanying the otherwise good “Chag Pesach Sameach!” (Happy Passover!) message from Canadian member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould included a castle’s turret, making Passover seem like a princess story, which it most definitely is not. I’m also unclear why the photographed Seder plate in Prime Minister Theresa May’s tweet includes beets, or why the chopped apples lacked nuts, if it’s meant to be Passover-appropriate charoset.
The tallit, or prayer shawl, in Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee’s photograph-based message would better suit a Bar-Mitzvah card. As for the plate of four eggs in Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s message, that’s a total head scratcher, since Jews use only one hardboiled egg on a Seder plate.
6. It’s Possible to Screw Up Holiday Messages
The British Labour Party was mercilessly mocked on Twitter— and deservedly so — for issuing a Passover message featuring three pictures: a Jewish star, a glass of wine, and a loaf of bread. See item 1 for why this was an epic faux pas.
Eventually, someone re-issued a less embarrassing version of the tweet (i.e., no more bread), but apparently, Rep. Rashida Tlaib didn’t get the memo. She tweeted her own Passover message that prominently featured loaves of bread. (Have I mentioned that Jews aren’t even supposed to look at bread during Passover?)
7. Passover Greetings Aren’t a Reset Button
Countless politicians share Passover greetings to remind their Jewish constituents how much they care. However, if you’ve been at the center of several anti-Semitic scandals this year, a la Rep. Ilhan Omar, even completely inoffensive tweets — like wishing a “Happy Passover to all who are celebrating!” — or more Jewishly attuned tweets — like wishing a “Chag Kasher v’sameyach — a happy Passover” won’t change how you’re viewed.
And pols, never go Full Corbyn and release a cringeworthy video that whitewashes the anti-Semitism associated not only with the party you lead, but also with you.
Still, as we celebrate our liberation and freedom, I wish all my fellow Jews around the world a very happy and kosher Passover. Next year, may we all have the opportunity to celebrate a Passover Seder (at the U.S. embassy) in Jerusalem!