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    In Every Generation, We Must Re-make Our Exodus

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large

    Recently the Jewish holiday of Passover was observed, a time during which many of us celebrate, and tell the story of, the Exodus from Egypt. The holiday centers around telling the story of people who were enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptian Pharaoh, and how they rose up and escaped from oppression.

    One of the traditional teachings is that every generation must learn about the exodus in their own way, and build their relationship around it, thereby learning to resist oppression. And so this tradition, of retelling a story from thousands of years ago, has a purpose for us too.

    While one reason for making sure to tell the stories of those who came before us is to respect their lives and honor our ancestors—that is not the only reason. We also retell the story of how our ancestors overcame oppression so that when we face oppression in our lives, we will know that it is possible to resist. Celebrating ancient victories over oppression also strengthens our ability and knowledge to fight oppression. Living under the rule of an oppressive tyrant is not new, and we in this time are not the first to struggle with this issue. For thousands of years, in various times and places, people have dealt with oppression, built resistance, and overcome tyrants.

    The resistance has taken many forms. To publicly identify ourselves as part of the current resistance, many now wear pink hats. In ancient times, some individuals marked their door posts with the blood of a lamb. Then, as now, part of what builds strength in resistance is knowing we are not alone, seeing one another publicly step up, and breaking down the fear of the tyrant by observing how many are willing and able to resist him.

    Let us honor what we have done thus far in resistance, and rededicate ourselves to the tasks ahead, to build a just and sustainable future. We have adopted and re-affirmed sanctuary city resolutions, and helped to fund legal services for those in need. We have taken action to help protect those struggling here with rising displacement, strengthening relocation assistance and protections for displaced tenants. And we have fought for thoughtful and compassionate solutions to our rising homeless crisis—and must continue to act to provide healthy alternatives to shoving homeless camps from one freeway underpass to the next freeway underpass by providing allowable sites, “navigation centers,” where people can be instead.

    This week, I am pleased to share that we introduced a City Council resolution in support of universal healthcare for California, a new bill in the State legislature that would ensure health care for all Californians and help to contain rising rates. As we see a Federal administration continuing to try to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (AKA “Obamacare”)—willing to hurt millions of people for political one-upmanship—we can show and act upon our values of compassion and inclusion, by working to protect and expand health coverage for everyone.

    Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012, and again in 2016. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Councilmember Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.