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With a Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm? Musings on Passover

As part of the series "Time of Crisis, Time of Leadership," Dr. Ruth Calderon hosted Professor Moshe Halbertal, Dr. Meir Buzaglo, Professor Ariel Hirschfeld, and Dr. Merav Roth

With a Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm?

Passover 2020 arrived in the midst of a strange and unusual period characterized by fears and uncertainty, in which many things taken for granted were being challenged. In light of these new circumstances, we gathered together, with care and concern, and responded in what we believe to be the best possible way. We joined together virtually to study and learn, at an event designed and hosted by Mandel faculty member Dr. Ruth Calderon.

The subject chosen was the Biblical expression “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,” which appears in the book of Exodus and in the Passover Haggadah as a description of the power of the divine intervention in the world – the power that, according to tradition, was used against Pharaoh in order to take the Children of Israel from slavery to freedom.

Was the “strong hand” used only against Pharaoh? What impact did the same hand have on the Children of Israel, who suddenly found themselves facing the challenges of liberation and of long years in the wilderness?

“Strong hands” have appeared throughout human history; perhaps we are even experiencing one now. In what way might external events that we experience suddenly as a “strong hand” also be an impetus to change? Do they sometimes serve as opportunities for change that would not otherwise be possible? Is there such a thing as a personal Exodus? And what does it mean to take a fresh look at what we take for granted?

During the event, Dr. Calderon held short conversations with the following panelists:

  • Professor Moshe Halbertal, faculty member at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, who spoke about the coronavirus crisis as an existential state or place.
  • Dr. Meir Buzaglo, lecturer in philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who spoke about the verse “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew” (Exodus 1:12).
  • Professor Ariel Hirschfeld, faculty member at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, who discussed crises that have led to renewal in literature.
  • Dr. Merav Roth, head of the psychoanalysis program at Tel Aviv University, who focused on the freedom created by crisis.

The virtual event also included a conversation with singer Rona Keinan, who performed one of her songs; a clip from the movie Yeshurun in Six Chapters, directed by Amichai Chasson, a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Mandel Program for Leadership in Jewish Culture; and Darbuka La Corona, a performance by the Jerusalem Orchestra East & West.

The "Time of Crisis, Time of Leadership" series is designed for the fellows and graduates of all programs of the Mandel Foundation–Israel.

Watch the first event in the series: A lecture by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg on “The Coronavirus Crisis from a Global Perspective: How Do We Prepare for the Next Level?” >>