Each year during the Passover seders, we recite the ages-old story of the Jews’ exodus from ancient Egypt – a tale which can seem far removed from our lives today. But each year, we also have the opportunity to breathe new life into the story as we join together to put ourselves in our ancestors’ shoes, and make connections that help bring the story closer to our own reality.
In recent years, modern adaptations of the Ten Plagues have been created, additions (like oranges and olives) have been added to the seder plate and tons of versions of the classic Maxwell House Haggadah have been written. The Exodus story has provided endless inspiration. But what about the story’s main characters?
Some serious game changers starred in the epic story of Passover, and we think they deserve some attention. So this year, Repair the World decided to have a little fun and explore modern day heroes – today’s leaders who work tirelessly on behalf of others and tikkun olam – and see how they remind us of Moses, Miriam, and Aaron.
Last but not least: Aaron.
Who he was: Aaron, Moses’ brother, was the first high priest and instrumental in helping his brother lead the Israelites to freedom. A confident public speaker, he helped Moses work through a moment of doubt and reluctance by speaking on his behalf – effectively working on Moses’ spokesman. Read more about Aaron here.
Why he’s a hero: Whether its via journalism, writing or public speaking, being able to communicate a message and inspire others often makes or breaks a social movement. Aaron had the gift of speech, and used it to help lead the Israelites and demand that Pharaoh release them from captivity.
Modern day Aaron? Here are some modern day leaders who share Aaron’s ability to lead and inspire through communication.
- Jon Stewart Host of the hugely popular TV show The Daily Show, Stewart is one of the country’s most impactful political satirists.
- Eboo Patel An American Muslim who is founder and director of Interfaith Youth Core and a regular contributor to The Washington Post.
- Nicholas Kristof A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and op-ed columnist for the New York Times who writes tirelessly on the subjects of human rights, human trafficking, and social injustices around the world.
- Jessica Valenti A writer and book author devoted to women’s issues, and founder of the popular blog Feministing.
- Bill McKibben Author of “The End of Nature,” “Enough,” and “Eaarth”, among other books, and longtime champion of the environmental movement. McKibben also co-founded the awesome climate change organization 350.org.
- Gail Collins A New York Times op-ed contributor and the Times’ first female Editorial Page Editor. She’s also the author of the book, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.”
- Tom Philpott One part farmer, one part journalist for publications like Grist and Mother Jones, Philpott is one of the leading voices around agriculture and food policy.
- Ira Glass Producer and host of NPR’s popular This American Life series, Glass helps bring to life the world’s most heartbreaking, uplifting, funny, tragic and universally meaningful stories.
- Samuel Fromartz Author of “Organic Inc.,” Fromartz is now Editor-in-Chief of the newly-founded Food & Environment Reporting Network.
Who did we miss? Who do you think should be counted as a Modern Day Aaron? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us at @repairtheworld.