By Shira Adler
The only way to make religion relevant is to keep it connected to what’s happening in the world today. Take Passover (Pesach in Hebrew), the sacred Jewish Festival which traditionally falls somewhere between the Spring Equinox and Easter. We have modern equivalents of the main characters, like Pharaoh, embodied in the bigotry, ignorance, and hateful words and actions of Trump, Sessions, and Putin. We also have modern plagues: sexism, sex trafficking, gun violence, and institutional racism thinly disguised as the prohibition against pot. These are the issues that give me deeper insight and connection to the Passover story…
Holiday’s Are Confusing
It’s during this holiday that Jews retell the story of Moses leading the ancient Israelites on a mass exodus from slavery in Mitzrayim — which literally means “narrow places,” not actually the land called Egypt — to a whole new world ripe with promise, and potential. Like any enslaved community who has a chance at creating a life of newfound freedom, the Ancient Jews undertook a perilous, mysterious, and seemingly endless journey from an old way of life — everything they knew, had been told, and had clung to for generations. In our world today, there are many who feel as lost, frightened, or frustrated. I know I’ve held these feelings. My version of this “exodus” has been embodied in a canna-curious journey. To escape my modern day Mitzrayim I had to take a leap of faith and begin a conscious path to say DAI — an abbreviated version of the word dayeinu — which is also the title of one of the traditional Passover songs. The ditty recounts a list of actionable steps and experiences for which the ancient Israelites cried out joyfully “It would have been enough.” For me, this song and the word “dai” bring up a different emotion, a visceral, tribal, guttural release, rather than an exuberant cry. I’ve had enough of the issues that plague me as a woman, a mother — a struggling spiritual being living a too-often painful human experience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m almost always in a state of gratitude for many things. However, my ongoing exodus is a feeling state born of frustration over so much I want to co-create with the Divine. I want to effect change — not just for my life, but for all of humanity. My shout of “DAI” is a statement of defiance, engagement, and activation. I no longer accept things as they are. I’m striving to be the change I want to see in the world, because the world NEEDS change, and it’s happening whether we’re ready or not. #TimesUp! #MeToo! #BlackLivesMatter! #TogetherWeRise #RESIST #MarchforOurLivesParkland! #LegalizeandDecriminalize!! The new energy is palpable. No more excuses. We’re not going to be lost in the wilderness for another 40 years, people. That’s why we have glowingly bright pink pussy hats, GPS, and our own moral compasses. The time for change is NOW! No more being controlled by corrupt systems, greedy lobbyists, powerful, and abusive men, and blatantly miseducated, and misguided buffoons on ego trips controlling our lives and livelihoods like puppeteers. The path may be arduous, but we are becoming increasingly empowered. And so we must march on through the wilderness.
I’m doing what I can to shed the shackles of stigma, break the restrictive bondage of arcane laws, and social injustice. I’m working to end the prohibition against marijuana. This is how I take the ancient story of Passover and apply it to my life — my NOW moment.
My “narrow places” were born of my own narrow-mindedness. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know and what I knew about marijuana was informed by the equally uninformed yet well-intentioned brainwashing I received from my Mother, and her mother before her. The “gateway drug” philosophy is a well debunked myth — just a bunch of propaganda trickled down from the Nixon era and “Reefer Madness.” The only madness here is that so many of us still accept this nonsense for no other reason than it’s been shoved down our throats for so many decades. We didn’t know there was anything else.
Yet, there is something else. A lot of “something else,” in fact. Status quo is a no-go.
We must break out against “narrow places” of narrow thinking, arcane laws, staggering stigma, and oppressive attitudes and energies of Jeff Sessions and his ilk. Marijuana is a compassionate care issue, a sustainability issue, a gender parity issue, and a civil rights issue.
I stepped out of the shadows of stigma and am now a fully engaged activist, author, and advocate. I’m passionate about legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana.
No, I’m not a pot pusher. Quite the opposite. But let’s get real. The war on drugs is a hoax. The “gateway drug” if a well debunked myth, and the prohibition is institutional racism. Don’t believe me? Read my book: The ABC’s of CBD: The Essential Guide for Parents (And regular folks too). I’d love to explain to you why pot is NOT what we were taught.
When life is too much — too full of strife and fear; fraught with snakes, vermin, and locusts — we as human beings have two simple choices. We can accept things as they are, or become so uncomfortable with our current perceived reality, that we must take a leap of faith and push through our Mitzrayim (our “narrow places”) to see what lies beyond.
As we participate in our Passover Seders this year, I will recount the ancient story and connect it to our current moment in history. I will continue to teach my children about modern day Pharaohs, and ways people are kept in slavery. I will ensure the facts are known — facts on pot vs. pills — which substances ARE really dangerous. I will make sure my children know the facts about the racial disparity in arrests between Caucasians, and African Americans and Latinos, who are incarcerated at an average national rate of 4:1, despite the fact that there is no evidence minority racial groups use marijuana any more than white people do.
Pot prohibition is racism… pure, simple, and provable, by the stats that we have allowed to exist for far too long. This is the narrow place from which we ALL must traverse.
This year I will retell of ancient journeys, and create a new one. I will sing of our history and forge a new chapter. Will you join me?
So it is, and so it shall be. Amen, Selah.
Shira Adler is a media wellness host, healer, educator, advocate, and entrepreneur who has generated millions of impressions across a broad range of linear and digital platforms. The author of the book The ABC’s of CBD: The Essential Guide for Parents (And regular folks too), she has developed a unique natural wellness company, ShiraSynergy.com, which focuses on CBD-based hemp products. Featured as the debut mom on Bravo’s Extreme Guide to Parenting, Shira has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Dr. Oz, Katie Couric, and many other national media outlets. Her writing has been published in various genres of magazines and blogs, including HuffPost and Kveller. She is the President of the northern Westchester chapter of the Health and Wellness Network of Commerce, and was founder and leader of the northern Westchester Holistic Moms Network. Visit shiraadler.com to learn more, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.