At her extended family’s Passover meal in Overland Park, homeowner Marcia Soltz read a list of 10 plagues, but they weren’t the locusts, lice and wild beasts included in the traditional Haggadah books, set out near the eating dishes.
She spoke instead of modern menaces such as discrimination and unemployment. And when Soltz arrived at what was listed as the seventh plague, religious intolerance, she added: “We reflect on what happened just this Sunday at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) and Village Shalom.”
Sunday’s mayhem erupted just a few miles away — the killing of three people allegedly by a man known to spout racist and anti-Semitic views. Still, as thousands of area Jewish families sat down this week for ceremonial Seder dinners, Soltz and 20 of her loved ones were among those gathering mostly for hugs, laughter and spiritual sharing.
That how’s to defeat hateful acts, said Scott Soltz, 25, after finishing his matzo ball soup Tuesday night.
“These things always do the opposite of what the perpetrators intended,” he said, citing the solidarity shown by racers flocking to the upcoming Boston Marathon despite the double-bombing one year ago.
His aunt, Diane Azorsky, agreed. Rather than Sunday’s violence casting clouds of contempt and fear over local Passover observances, “it was comforting for us to get together as a family, as we always do.”
Not that the violence didn’t strike close to home. Azorsky had worked 23 years at the community center campus and often uses its services. Her children attended preschool there.
If not for having to work, nephew Scott Soltz would normally have been shooting hoops on the day the killer fired gunshots in the parking area.
All of them, gathered Tuesday night around a makeshift dinner table in the Soltz living room, said the shootings won’t make them visit the center any less than before.
Across Kansas City, the tragedy presents “an opportunity for conversation” at Passover observances ending next week, said Marvin Szneler, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee.
The holiday “causes people to think about their liberty and freedom,” said Szneler. “You have to ask, are we really free if racism and terrorism persist in the world?”
At the Soltz home, the last to arrive were twins Jacob and Leah, 5 months old and carried in their car seats by parents Aaron and Lisa Soltz of Prairie Village.
Relatives from as far away as California embraced the newest family members.
“Their first Passover,” said a smiling Marcia Soltz, “with many more to come.”