The Torah narrates that when Noah sent out a dove from the Ark in search of dry land, she returned with a freshly plucked olive leaf in her mouth (Genesis 8:10-11). Since that time, the olive tree has been a symbol of hope and peace.

Sadly, in recent years, the destruction of Palestinian olive trees by Israeli settlers has been destroying the hope of a just peace between two peoples whose roots in the land that divides them are deeper even than those of the most ancient olive tree.

The olives on the seder plate remind us that we cannot celebrate our ancestors’ liberation from slavery in Egypt without acknowledging that today the Palestinian people are not yet free. As we eat the olives tonight at our sacred seder, let us commit ourselves to support those courageous individuals and groups amongst the Israelis and the Palestinians who are working for peace and justice, dignity and security for both peoples.

And let us say: Amen.

Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah