Exodus and Exile: Facing Challenges with Love

Leonie Serman, Director of Family Services, shares a unique perspective on Passover

In most families, the holiday time is one of excitement, tradition and family togetherness. However, when a family is facing illness during this time, the hectic but expected routine of the holidays may well be challenged or changed.

The true miracle of Passover and its relevance for the ages is the message that with God’s help, no difficulty is insurmountable. A tyrant like Pharaoh could be overthrown. A nation as powerful as Egypt could be defeated. Slaves could become freemen. The oppressed could break the shackles of their captivity. Anything is possible, if only we dare to dream the impossible dream.

God built his nation by commanding not a collective gathering of hundreds of thousands in a public square but by asking Jews to turn their homes into places of family worship at a Seder devoted primarily to answering the questions of children.

Children are our future. They are most certainly the ones who require our attention. The home is where we first form our identities and discover our values. It is in our homes that we sow the seeds of the future and ensure our continuity.

In January of this year, I joined Chai Lifeline Toronto as the Director of the Family Services Team. In the short time that I have been in my role, I have seen first hand, that anything is possible if only we dare to dream the impossible ……from sending parents to meet Ellen DeGeneres, to providing a favourite meal for a sick child who hasn’t eaten properly in weeks but suddenly feels like something, to a private movie showing because of a compromised immune system, to making birthday parties, to magic shows in your hospital room, to a family photo shoot to capture lasting family memories………I could go on and on and on. I am working with a group of angels who go above and beyond each and every day to make the day in the life of a sick child or a family with a sick child, an easier or better day.

What was the purpose of the Exodus from Egypt? God wanted to create a relationship with the Jewish people. The relationship that God was establishing with the Israelites was a relationship of love. He had to show them that He saw and cared about their affliction. The Israelites had to feel taken care of by God. Relief from their suffering, freedom from slavery, was not the goal of the Exodus, but was necessary for the purpose of establishing a relationship, the true goal of the Exodus.

Nobody would ever choose to have a sick child or to go through the difficulties and challenges that a family experiences as a result of having a sick child. In my short time at Chai Lifeline I have come to understand that the purpose and mandate of Chai Lifeline is to recognize and understand the challenges families with a sick child are going through and to build a relationship of love. To show them that we understand and care about what they are going through, that they are not alone, that we can offer some brief reprieve from their suffering and together we can partner to face an insurmountable challenge.

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