This Tuesday, April 15th, Vice President Biden will be in Boston as he joins Governor Patrick and Mayor Walsh to honor and commemorate the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. They will join hundreds of the victims and their families, first responders, faith leaders, and members of our civic community. Though I’m honored that I was invited to attend, I won’t be with them on Tuesday.
By a coincidence of the calendar, Tuesday is also the first day of Passover, a sacred day to Jews around the world. We commemorate this holiday with seders the night before (and for many of us a second one that evening), synagogue services, and a communal and (for many of us) an individual withdrawal from the working week. At JCRC as for a broad section of the Jewish communal world, our policy is to not sponsor or participate in civic events on that day, just like we don’t on the Sabbath each week.
But we are also Bostonians. And like all our neighbors, April 15th means something special to us now. And it is a date – April 15th, not the 14th or the 16th – that is this day of commemoration; April 15th will always be the anniversary of the bombing and it cannot be moved any more than the Fourth of July can be when that day falls on the Sabbath.
Personally I’ll be staying in Boston this Passover for the first time since I moved here. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else this year. While I declined to attend the commemoration as the Executive Director of JCRC, I’ll be honoring the day like so many of us. I’ll walk over to MIT and pause to pray where Officer Sean Collier was killed. I’ll walk down to Boylston Street to spend some time with thousands of others reflecting on the past year. Come the following week, even though it will fall on another sacred day (the seventh day of Passover) I’ll be down at the marathon itself. I’ll be cheering on my many friends – Jewish and otherwise – who are making the choice to run for charity, just as I am donating to support the causes they are running for.
One way or another, like so many in our Jewish community I will be navigating this space of being Jewish and being part of one Boston in the same breath this week. Because that is what we do to express the whole of who we are, Jewish and Bostonians, partners in one civic faith.
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