In Europe and Latin America, Two Jewish Women Leaders Reflect on Passover

For these two women, Passover is a call to serve their communities.

By Nidia Burstein & Belin Yensafarti - Jewish Community Leaders | April 14, 2022

In these difficult times, the Passover story has gained a deeper resonance for Jews everywhere. And across the world, women have taken a leading role in powering Jewish life and supporting the most vulnerable. In this spirit, we bring you these Passover reflections from two female Jewish leaders — women who have helped lead their communities to that sense of freedom and faith we celebrate on Passover.

Latin America

Name: Dr. Nidia Burstein

Age: 74

Profession:  Vice President of the Jewish Community of Bahía Bianca, Argentina;Professor at Universidad Nacional del Sur 

What does Passover teach us? What does it mean to you? 

Passover teaches us the value of freedom. When they fled Egypt, the Jewish people had been preparing for freedom for a very long time, and I believe Moses and the Ten Commandments established the basis of a strong Judaism. 

Nidia Burstein

What’s your favorite Passover memory?

As a child growing up in the Jewish community of Mendoza, Argentina, I loved to sing Ma Nishtaná with my younger brother at the family Seder. This is my favorite Passover memory! 

Why does Passover matter now, as we enter the third year of the pandemic? 

In times like these, facing an ongoing pandemic, I think we must take care of individual and civic rights — we must safeguard the freedom that Passover celebrates.  Some troubling trends have risen during the pandemic — and some antisemitic trends, too. It is my hope that we can work together to overcome these obstacles.


Name: Belin Yensafarti

Belin Yensafarti

Age: 34

Profession: JCC Program Coordinator

Location: Izmir, Turkey

What does Passover teach us? What does it mean to you? 

We all know the Pesach Haggadah. It tells the story of the four children at the Passover table. However, I recently learned about the fifth child, the one who doesn’t show up to the table because they don’t know there’s a Seder — they’re lost. This fifth child has lit my path while working for the Izmir Jewish community. I am trying to find the “fifth child” in our community, get to know them, and invite them to the table.

What’s your favorite Passover memory?

While studying in the Netherlands as a visiting researcher, a Jewish Studies professor at my university invited me to a Seder. I had been invited to various Passover tables in different countries and cultures before. But at this table, everybody took the floor and spoke about what the holiday meant to them. One of the participants shared a quote from a Nelson Mandela speech: “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people […] I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve.” Hearing these words impressed me deeply. I had a flash of insight that told me that freedom is something to fight for, something to risk and to reach, something to care for, and finally, something to be embraced when found. And now I dream of living in a free and democratic world.

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