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Pesach: The Time Of Our Personal Freedom



The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches, “in every generation, and every day, a Jew must see himself as if he had that day been liberated from Egypt.”[1] This is a tall order. How can we feel as if we ourselves have been liberated from Egypt in today’s world? Exploring one answer can, hopefully, help us to connect to Pesach in a more personal way this year.

The Jewish calendar is not cyclical. Rather, as Rabbi Akiva Tatz explains, it is a spiral because even though we celebrate the same holidays each year, we are different people.[2] Every year, we endure new challenges, we achieve new accomplishments, we learn more about ourselves, and as a result, we should relate to the world- and the holidays- from a higher perspective.

On a deeper level, Rabbi Tatz explains that the Jewish calendar is “charged with the energy to help us achieve what we need to achieve at that moment.” Using Pesach as an example, Rabbi Tatz explains that contrary to popular belief, we do not celebrate Pesach in the springtime because that is when the Exodus occurred. Rather, the energies of this time of year were, and still are, conducive to the experience of the Exodus and that is why it occurred at the time. In other words, the energy of freedom was embedded in this time of year, enabling the Exodus to occur. And since the Jewish calendar is a spiral, we can access this same energy of freedom during Pesach.[3]

In his famous book Strive For Truth, Rav Dessler explains that “Each year on ‘Pesah, one returns to the ‘station’ of the redemption from Egypt. At this season it becomes possible to relive in a spiritual sense the experience of ‘freedom granted by G-d.’ It is in reality ‘the time of our freedom.'”[4]

What kind of freedom are we talking about and how does it apply to us?

The Hebrew word for Egypt, “Mitzrayim,” comes from the root “metzar” which means “constriction” and “distress,” and also signifies “boundary.”[5] When the Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt, they were in a place of constriction. They were enslaved and did not have the mental or physical space to express their free will in the world. But it was not just the Jews who were constricted in Egypt. The Sages say that ironically, even though Egypt was a land blessed with physical bounty, the Egyptians were narrow-minded in their exclusive focus on materialism, physicality, and power. Sound familiar?

In twenty-first century America, our society is also blessed with physical bounty. Thank G-d, most people have their basic physical necessities taken care of. Yet the primary cultural value is career ambition and material achievement at the expense of all else.

Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, is ironically a narrow land, yet referred to as a place of expansion by our Sages. Why? Because in Israel, a land that is not as fertile as Egypt, the people are forced to look up to G-d and pray for their needs. Their reality expands into the spiritual realm.

The freedom we are talking about is moving from constriction to expansion.

I once heard Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller say that everyone has his or her own personal “leaving Mitzrayim” story. We all have limitations holding us back. Whether they are physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual, we are all constricting ourselves in some way and holding ourselves back from achieving our true potential. Hopefully, we also all have stories of how we overcame a certain limitation in our lives and moved to a place of expansion and greater achievement.

This year, as you sit around your Seder table, recount your personal “leaving Mitzrayim” story. Talk about a limitation you hope to move past this year in order to achieve your potential. Create a realistic plan to work toward your goal. The energy of Passover is conducive to accelerated growth in this area. Rabbi Tatz explains, “[a]n attempt to leap up, to reach a whole new level of sensitivity, of personality development, can have a degree of success if undertaken on Pesach which may be far more difficult at any other time.”[6]

However, we must remember that true freedom takes place within a context of constriction. G-d took the Jewish people out of Egypt so that they could serve Him with Torah and mitzvot. So too, the purpose of our freedom from negative limitations is so that we can enhance our relationship with ourselves, others, and G-d.

Just like the Jews crossing the Red Sea had emuna, faith, that G-d would help them get out of Egypt, so too must we remember that it is only with G-d’s help that we will achieve our own personal exodus this Pesach.

May we all merit to experience real freedom this Pesach.


[1] Torah Studies: A Parsha Anthology, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings adapted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, p. 165
[2] Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Living Inspired, p. 130
[3] Id.
[4] Rabbi Eliyahu E. Dessler, Strive for Truth, Part Four, p. 21
[5] Id. at p. 11
[6] Rabbi Akiva Tatz, Living Inspired, p. 145

Jenna (Marin) Maio, Esq. studied English/Creative Writing at Emory University and Law and Environmental Sustainability at the University of Pennsylvania. She recently launched her website,, which shares relatable lessons and stories of eternal Jewish wisdom. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram @modernjewishgirl.


IsraAID is launching the Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN) in Los Angeles and Bay Area



 World-renowned Israeli Humanitarian and disaster relief organization expands presence in U.S. by offering Americans training andopportunities for Disaster relief deployment

Los Angeles, CA – On January 10, 2019, in Los Angeles, disaster relief NGO IsraAID will launch its new aid initiative, The IsraAID Humanitarian Professionals Network (IHPN), an elite program that trains doctors, dentists, nurses, engineers and mental health professionals in disaster response and deploys them around the world to helpsave lives.

IHPN members become part of a network of likeminded professionals at the top of theirfields, joining a robust roster of professionals in Israel, and have a chanceto share Israel’s humanitarian ethos with communities in need. Current IsraAID missions span disasters such as the wildfires in California, refugee crises in Greece, Kenya, Bangladesh, violence in Uganda, and cyclones in Vanuatu.

“IsraAID draws on Israeli social innovation and expertise to benefit people in need around the world. We are now leveraging our organization’s unique capabilities to train professionals in the U.S. interested in developing life-saving skills and joining humanitarian relief missions globally, hand in hand with professionals from Israel” said Seth H. Davis, Executive Director of IsraAID U.S. “IHPN will equip skilled individuals in hands-on disaster relief experience and provide enhanced capacity if local disaster were too strike.”

The first event, entitled “What You Need to Know About Humanitarian Aid,” will feature speaker Tim Burke, MA, MPH, who lead IsraAID’s work in South Sudan for five years, where he oversaw programs in public health and post-conflict development. Subsequent speakers include atmospheric physicist Colin Price and refugee crises expert Dr. Nir Boms.

With deployment in 49 countries, and currently active in 19 countries, IsraAID is an expert in training professionals to deploy. In the U.S. alone in the last year, IsraAID has provided humanitarian relief in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, California, and Puerto Rico.

“IsraAID will make Los Angeles more secure by leveraging their unique expertise in disaster response to train professionals in our community,” said [Paul Koretz]. “I look forward to working with IsraAID to help them rollout their IHPN program in California”

Professionals interested in attending should RSVP here  and/or learn more and join the network here.


About IHPN: The IsraAID HumanitarianProfessionals Network (IHPN) is an exclusive network of professionals at thevanguard of global aid relief activities. Members of IHPN receive expert briefings, emergency-preparedness training, access to enrichment with field leaders,and priority access to deploy on IsraAID missions.

About IsraAID: IsraAID is anon-governmental organization that provides lifesaving emergency relief andlong-term, sustainable solutions for populations affected by natural disasters, epidemics and post-conflict situations. Our teams leverage Israeli innovation,work in full collaboration with local partners, and educate the public and professionals on disaster prevention and relief. IsraAID (US) Global Humanitarian Assistance, Inc. is an independent 501c(3)organization.

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Nothing Matters More Than This



We live in a world where FOCUS is even MORE important than your INTELLIGENCE.

From our never-ending Facebook feed, to our freshly-updated YouTube subscription page, to our email inbox, we live in an abundant world of information.

However, is it really necessary to consume all of this general information?

Will it ever be useful? Will it ever make any difference in your life?

No. Most likely not.

Learning a little about a lot of different things doesn’t really amount to much.

Instead, you should FOCUS.

Focus on learning and applying ONE skill as intensely and deeply as possible.

Focus is where mastery kicks in.

Kobe Bryant wasn’t the best basketball player that ever played because he was the best all-around person.

Kobe Bryant was world-class because he was absolutely great at ONE thing and one thing only: playing basketball.

So instead of consuming as much general information as you possibly can… instead FOCUS.

FOCUS on one topic. FOCUS on one task. FOCUS on one goal.

Because today, more than ever, focus is way more important than your intelligence.

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New Initiative Launched to Restore Memories and a Legacy



On Tuesday January 30th, Thirty Years After (30 YA) hosted the Legacy Launch, one of their largest, most innovative and interactive projects to date, at the Ahyra Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills.

Sam Yebri, President of Thirty Years After, explains the Legacy Project, “The Project is a grassroots initiative that will help preserve and honor the Iranian  Jewish experience through video for future generations,  and provide an opportunity for every family to capture their parents’  and grandparents’ most compelling memories and anecdotes before it is  too late.”

Doors opened to guest at 7:00 pm where they were greeted with smiles from 30 YA volunteers and staff members. The lobby was packed with guests who were treated to wonderful Iranian street food not often seen or eaten in the United States. The delicious cuisine included Labu (beets baked in their own juice, and typically served steaming hot in a street cart during the dead of winter), Baghali (beans topped with spices, typically served the same way as Labu), Dizi (a meat mash/stew– usually made with lamb, but made with beef and chickpeas at our event), Shohleh Zard (saffron rice pudding), Chos-e-fil (otherwise known as popcorn) and Mahi-Cheh Polo (herbed rice with beef shanks).

The large number of attendees was a testament to the genuine and unprecedented support for the new generation of leaders of the Los Angeles Iranian-American Jewish community.  The printed program for the event listed over 25 generous families and businesses that supported the Legacy Launch and congratulated 30 YA on celebrating their 10 year anniversary.

This event was magical because of the broad range of emotions experienced just by being shoulder to shoulder with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins born in Tehran. Sadness is one emotion that could have been felt while standing in the room, because of all of the untold stories that were not recorded, told or heard. How many stories have we “missed out” on because family members have passed away, younger generations have gone off to college, or simply because we took time for granted? At the Legacy Launch, time stood still for a few hours for the sake of a community recording the past, but very aware of time, embracing beloved memories on video, but also progressively moving toward the future.

Yebri explained, “Our history informs our present and powers our future. This is especially true when our families and community have such a rich legacy of inspiring memories and experiences in Iran and during our exodus to America.  30 Years After  is thrilled to launch ‘The Legacy Project’ as part of the organization’s 10th anniversary celebration.”

Bobby Zolekhian, former President of Nessah Young Professionals expressed, “It was one of the most inspirational events I have been to. I am recruiting people to share their stories. This is something extraordinary!”

Featured guest speakers during the screening included Mrs. Susan Azizzadeh, President of the Iranian American Jewish Federation, Dr. Saba Soomekh, Assistant Director of Interreligious and Intercommunity Affairs at AJC, Megan Nemandoust, Margalit Rosenthal, Liora Simozar and 30 YA President, Sam Yebri.

The dynamic presentation of the screening and its intimate interviews clearly validated that the second and third generations of Iranian Jews growing up in the United States are confidently embracing their unspoken responsibility to record the stories of generations before them for a purpose with a greater cause– maintaining their identity, culture, and traditions.

Learn more about preserving your legacy with 30 YA at


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december, 2019

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