Tuesday, March 30, 2010
A Public Mitzvah in Baltimore
I always thought that Baltimore did biur chametz (the final burning of prohibited foods just before Passover) particularly well and I applaud all the volunteers that help make it happen year after year. Last year, the public chametz burning was moved from the Glen Avenue Fire Station to a parking lot at Pimlico Racetrack. The racetrack is 5 minutes from our house, but it took an hour to complete the mitzvah because of all the traffic - hundreds of Jewish families going out to burn their chametz. In previous years, I always imagined that this was what life in Israel would feel like - mitzvahs done by hundreds of people at a time, right out in public. Most years, there are young men collecting charity among the crowds and plenty of neighborly wishes for a good and kosher Pesach. It's a very Jewish moment in Baltimore.
And yet, on the slow approach to the site of the public chametz burning, we passed any number of non-Jewish businesses and houses of worship in a neighborhood that is clearly not one where Jews live today. I have to imagine there were few among us who didn't ask themselves, "I wonder what the non-Jews around here think of what we're doing, coming into their neighborhood and making a huge amount of smoke?"
So even this very public mitzvah in Baltimore, done with as much kiddush Hashem as possible, is a potent reminder that we live in someone else's country.
L'shana Ha'ba'ah B'Yerushalayim indeed.
Posted by Rivkah Lambert Adler at 12:28 AM