1. The inscription on theLiberty Bell is from the Book of Leviticus (25:10), which is the core of the Jubilee - the Exodus concept of liberty: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land, unto all the Inhabitants thereof.”

2. “Mama Moses” was the nickname for Harriet Tubman, a black woman born into slavery, who escaped in 1849. She initiated the Underground Railroad, which freed Black slaves through a network of secret routes and safe houses.

3. Martin Luther King, Jr., the famed leader of the Civil Rights Movement, based many of his sermons and speeches - including "I have a dream" - on Moses and the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt.

4. “Go Down Moses, way down in Egypt land, tell old Pharaoh to let my people go” are the lyrics of the anti-slavery anthem of Afro-American slaves, taken from the Biblical verses in the Book of Exodus.

Passover Guide for the Perplexed

1. Passover (April 22-30, 2024) is a Jewish national liberation holiday, highlighting the Exodus, the Parting of the Sea, the Ten Commandments, the 40-year-wandering in the desert, and the reentry to the Land of Israel 3,600 years ago.

2. The Abolitionist and human rights movements were spurred by the Passover Exodus. For example, in 1850, Harriet Tubman, who was one of the leaders of the “Underground Railroad” - an Exodus of Afro-American slaves to freedom - was known as "Mama Moses." Moreover, on December 11, 1964, upon accepting the Nobel Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The Bible tells the thrilling story of how Moses stood in Pharaoh’s court centuries ago and cried, ‘Let my people go!’” Furthermore, Paul Robeson and Louis Armstrong leveraged the liberty theme of Passover through the lyrics: “When Israel was in Egypt’s land, let my people go! Oppressed so hard they could not stand, let my people go! Go down Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; tell old Pharaoh to let my people go….!”

3. The USFounding Fathers were inspired by the Exodus, in particular, and the Mosaic legacy, in general, shaping the Federalist system, including the concepts of (anti-monarchy) limited government, separation of powers among three co-equal branches of government, featuring Congress, as the most powerful legislature in the world. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense – “the cement of the 1776 Revolution” - referred to King George III as “the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharaoh of England.” And, the Early Pilgrims considered their 10-week-sail in the Atlantic ocean as “the modern day Parting of the Sea,” and their destination as “the modern day Promised Land” and “the New Israel.”

4. The US Founding Fathers deemed it appropriate to engrave the essence of the Biblical role model of liberty (the Passover-related Jubilee) on the Liberty Bell: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof (Leviticus, 25:10).” The Jubilee is commemorated every 50 years, and the Liberty Bell was installed in 1751 upon the 50th anniversary of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges.

Moreover, there are 50 States in the United States, whose Hebrew name is "The States of the Covenant" (Artzot Habreet -ארצות הברית ). Also, the Exodus is mentioned 50 times in the Five Books of Moses; Moses received (on Mount Sinai) the Torah - which includes 50 gates of wisdom - 50 days following the Exodus, as celebrated by the Shavou'ot/Pentecost Holiday, 50 days following Passover.

5. According to Heinrich Heine, the 19th century German poet, “Since the Exodus, freedom has always spoken with a Hebrew accent.”

6. According to the late Prof. Yehudah Elitzur, one of Israel’s pioneers of Biblical research, the Exodus took place in the second half of the 15th century BCE, during the reign of Egypt’s Amenhotep II. Accordingly, the 40-year-national coalescing of the Jewish people – while wandering in the desert - took place when Egypt was ruled by Thutmose IV. Then, Joshua conquered Canaan when Egypt was ruled by Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV, who were preoccupied with domestic affairs to the extent that they refrained from expansionist ventures. Moreover, as documented by letters which were discovered in Tel el Amarna, the capital city of ancient Egypt, the 14th century BCE Pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, was informed by the rulers of Jerusalem, Samaria and other parts of Canaan, about a military offensive launched by the “Habirus” (Hebrews and other Semitic tribes), which corresponded to the timing of Joshua’s offensive against the same rulers. Amenhotep IV was a determined reformer, who introduced monotheism, possibly influenced by the ground-breaking and game-changing legacy of Moses and the Exodus.

7. Passover aims at coalescing the fabrics of the Jewish family and the Jewish people, commemorating and strengthening Jewish roots, and enhancing core values such as faith, humility, education, defiance of odds, can-do mentality, optimism, and patriotism, which are prerequisites to a free and vibrant society.

8. Passover highlights the unique resilience, which has surged the Jewish people to new heights (for the benefit of all of humanity) following a multitude of crises such as: the 722 BCE destruction and exile of the Kingdom of Israel by Assyria, the 586 BCE destruction of the First Temple by Babylon, the 70 AD destruction of the Second Temple by Rome, the 135 crushing of the Bar Kochba’ rebellion against Rome, the 484, 1736 and 1865 pogroms of the Jews in Persia, the 627 massacre of the Jewish tribe of Quraysh by Muhammed, the 873 pogroms by Byzantine, the 1096 First Crusade’s pogroms, the 1141 pogroms in Moslem-ruled Andalusia, the 1147 Second Crusade’s pogroms, the 1189 Third Crusade, the 1198 forced Islamization of Jews in Yemen, the 1248 pogroms in Baghdad, the 1290 expulsion of England’s Jews, the 1306 expulsion of France’s Jews, the 1492 expulsion of Spain’s Jews, the 1496 expulsion of Portugal’s Jews, the 1648 pogroms of Ukraine’s Jews, the 1881 pogroms of Russia’s and Ukraine’s Jews, the 1903 pogroms in Russia, the 1919 pogroms in Ukraine, the 1929 Arab terror in Hebron, the 1938 Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany and Austria, the January 20, 1942 Wannsee Nazi Conference which presented “the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

9. Passover highlights the central role of women in Jewish history. For instance, Yocheved, Moses’ mother, hid Moses and then breastfed him at the palace of Pharaoh, posing as a nursemaid. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, was her brother’s keeper. Batyah, the daughter of Pharaoh, saved and adopted Moses (Numbers 2:1-10). Shifrah and Pou’ah, two Jewish midwives, risked their lives, sparing the lives of Jewish male babies, in violation of Pharaoh’s command (Numbers 1:15-19). Tziporah, a daughter of Jethro and Moses’ wife, saved the life of Moses and set him back on the Jewish course (Numbers, 4:24-27). They followed in the footsteps of Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel, the Matriarchs (who engineered, in many respects, the roadmap of the Patriarchs), and inspired future leaders such as Deborah (the Prophetess, Judge and military commander), Hannah (Samuel's mother), Yael (who killed Sisera, the Canaanite General) and Queen Esther, the heroine of Purim and one of the seven Biblical Jewish Prophetesses (Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah and Esther).

10. Passover is the first of the three Jewish pilgrimages to Jerusalem, followed by Shavou’ot (Pentecost), which commemorates the receipt of the Ten Commandments, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), which was named after Sukkota - the first stop in the Exodus.

11. Jerusalem is mentioned three times in the annual story of Passover (Haggadah), which is concluded by the vow: "Next Year in the reconstructed Jerusalem!"

United Jerusalem has been the exclusive capital of the Jewish people since King David established it as his capital, 3,000 years ago.


Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger can be found on bit.ly/3W5cfiv