Mi chamocha ba-eilim Adonai?
Who is like you, Adonai?
As a convert to Judaism, I had the opportunity to choose my own Hebrew name before my beit din. I went through lots of possibilities—Sara, Rachel, Abigail—but in the end, I chose Miryam; Miryam, who led the Israelites out of Egypt singing.
The Israelites left the worst of situations singing. I wish I could have been there to hear the joy in their voices, the celebration, the relief, the fear, the pain, the grief, the hope.
Converts’ souls are said to have been with the Israelites on Mount Sinai, like all Jews in the past, present, and future. My last direct Jewish ancestor, my great-great grandfather, died in 1919, and so my connection to Judaism for the first part of my life was limited. But I found Judaism again. I came back home.
I wonder how my Jewish ancestors celebrated Passover in Europe. Could they, with antisemitism and persecution? Did they have to hide their Jewishness? Were they proud of it? Were they assimilated? I have so many questions and painfully few answers. So today, with no Jewish family members to share a Seder with, in person or over Zoom, I am celebrating Passover in the midst of a pandemic.
I am watching leaves sway in the wind, I am watching inchworms crawl, and I am listening to birds chirping. I am celebrating in the way I know how: I am singing the beautiful prayer Mi Chamocha, the words of praise that my Jewish ancestors sang when they left Egypt, lead by my namesake, Miryam.
The Israelites were singing in grief, but they were also singing with love, joy, and hope. So today, I sing because it still is Passover, even in the midst of a pandemic.
It is still Passover, and I will sing.
Madison Zehmer is a poet, writer, and wannabe historian from North Carolina, with published and forthcoming work in Déraciné, Drunk Monkeys, Gone Lawn, LandLocked, and elsewhere. She is editor in chief of Mineral Lit Mag, and her first chapbook, “Unhaunting,” will be released by Kelsay Books in 2021.