Three thousand years after the Hebrews (Israelites) were freed from bondage in Egypt — an event celebrated as part of Passover — a new nation on a new continent saw a parallel to the great Exodus of the Bible in its own developing history
America had begun as a place of refuge for those escaping religious persecution, but by the 1760s the colonists were experiencing increasing political and economic persecution from the King of England as well. Led by George Washington, American colonies fought the Revolutionary War, defeating England, the world’s most powerful nation. As a result, the United States of America was born.
When the Great Seal of the United States was being designed, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and others proposed ideas for what it would look like. In August 1776, Franklin proposed a scene from the “Exodus of the Israelites” for the seal’s design: “Moses standing on the Shore and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the sea to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot.” Franklin then wrote, “Motto: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”
Franklin and many others saw the significant similarities between the great biblical Exodus of the Israelites and the founding of America. Since then, the history of both nations has flowed together. Founded primarily by religious Christians, America became a place where Jews have prospered and been freer to practice their religion and tell the story of Passover than in any other place in history. Today, more Jews live in America than anyplace else in the world, except for Israel. This freedom has allowed Jews to contribute to the arts, sciences, psychology, politics, law, medicine and more, far exceeding their proportion in numbers. Jewish values and American values have always been united in their commitment to freedom and liberty. Those who are Jewish and living in America are truly blessed to be living here. America has bestowed such blessings and freedom on the Jewish people.
This year, Passover begins on the eve of March 27, offering the world again a message of freedom, hope and optimism. The English word “Passover” comes from the Hebrew word Pesach, meaning to “pass over.” God “passed over” the houses of the Jews when God slew every firstborn in Egypt during the last and final plague he inflicted on them before ending hundreds of years of slavery for the Jews.
This greater significance of this long-ago event is because Passover and the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt ultimately led them to Mount Sinai, where God gave the Jews the Ten Commandments and the Torah. God revealed himself to an entire people and from his hand the Israelites were given the gift of freedom and the responsibility to spread the word of Torah, the Law and the values of the one true God. These events, and this message of blessing, changed world history and shaped the American way of life.
Since America’s founding, religious Christians have been the biggest supporters of Jews and Israel. The Judeo-Christian values shared by Jews and Christians around the world are the guiding light of freedom. Like the Passover story, the American story, the founding of America and the continuing American way of life have always been connected to freedom for its people and millions of others worldwide.
Whether it be an Israelite in ancient Egypt, an American citizen in 1776, or an American or Israeli in 2021, the right to be free is Passover’s central theme. With that freedom comes a responsibility to live up to a code of morality brought by the one true God to a group of people thousands of years ago on Mount Sinai. The idea that Jews will be celebrating a holiday that commemorates an event that took place so long ago is miraculous in itself. To comprehend the effect that the Exodus and the Law given to the Hebrews at Mount Sinai have had on humanity, one can only conclude that there was divine intervention.
So the story of the Exodus from Egypt will continue to be passed down from generation to generation by a people made up of different races, ethnicities and countries of origin. All Americans can show their gratitude and preserve our great nation by doing what Jews have been doing for over 3,000 years. We can tell our children the story of our founding and share the wisdom of our Constitution. May God continue to bless America, Americans and the Jewish people. Happy Passover!
Bruce Karasik is the Co-Founder of the Jewish Republican Alliance, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit Corporation (JewishRepublicanAlliance.org) and a Real Estate Broker in Westlake Village, CA.