The Lessons of History – Passover

1917. Jewish Prisoners of War celebrating Passover in a camp in Germany.

The Biblical focal point of Passover is the slaughtered lamb and God’s mighty Arm. Rabbinical Judaism ignores that almost completely. Instead it focuses on passing the story on to the younger generation – “Ve’higadeta Le’bincha”, based on Exodus 13:8.

In this post I am not ignoring the Biblical focus, but would like to make a little room for history and the importance of remembering. There is something in the common saying about its tendency to repeat itself. So I’m taking a short break from the series about Hearing God’s voice, to recall some historic funny or impressive moments, captured for us through the lens of a camera.

Celebrating Passover

The following pictures have all been taken from the archives of the JDC (the Jewish Joint Distribution Center – the largest Jewish humanitarian agency in the world).

This picture was taken at the end of WWII in the Berlin Displaced Persons Camp, during Passover. The Jewish girl is holding a round shmurah matzo. To her right: an American Chaplain.

Photographer: Alois Bankhardt

For thousands years, the Jews have been careful to celebrate Passover. Even today, in secular Israel, the estimate is that nearly 98% of the Jews celebrated the feast last night.

In this picture, Yemenite Jews celebrate the Seder at an absorption camp, upon their arrival in Israel in 1960.


Below – Orphaned refugees from France celebrating Passover at the end of WWII.


Below is a silent footage of the Joint’s extensive efforts to create a memorable Passover for Jews in postwar Vienna. The video shows the arrival and distribution of supplies for the Jewish community, Seders for Holocaust survivors at the Rothschild Transit Center, and a Viennese community gathering.

The Spanish Flu

While Passover is carved upon the Jewish memory for generations, this year we have a global memory, that will stay carved on everyone’s heart for who knows how long. Nothing to commemorate, but still worth learning from the history of global plagues.

These images were taken in various places over the world, during the pandemic that broke out in 1918 (the Spanish Flu).

Bellow – Air filtration device (though contagion was eventually proved as mainly through touch and not airborne).

Disinfecting a bus in England with an improvised sprayer. Check out the signs on the back of the seats.

Workers in New Jersey gurgling salt water – treatment that proved itself to be effective.

A military doctor spraying a soldier’s throat with disinfecting solution as part of an experiment, lately proven as a total bust.

And the icing on the cake: a medical pamphlet explaining the dangers of sneezing.

I wish us all a true, lasting redemption. The kind that enables us to sneeze and hug freely, that focuses on God’s values and not on man’s made wisdom. The one that lifts up the Lamb, whose blood is worthy of commemorating and is able to do more than we ever imagine.

Hag Sameach!

This article originally appeared on Ot OoMofet Ministries, March 29, 2021, and reposted with permission.