Freedom on Passover


In this lesson, students will explore the meaning of freedom and will reflect on slavery and freedom in the lives of the Refuseniks and in their own lives.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Understand the true meaning of freedom
  • Reflect on slavery and freedom in the lives of the Refuseniks
  • Connect the lessons of slavery and freedom to their own lives


Passover is the festival of freedom. We celebrate our liberation from the bondage of Egypt and our becoming an independent nation. But what does it truly mean to be free? Is serving God different from serving Pharaoh?




1. Assign each student an inanimate object to write about, such as a pencil, a book, an apple, etc.  Have each student write a short monologue of what freedom would look like from the point of view of their object, without directly revealing what the object is. Then, have students take turns reading their monologues while the rest of the group guesses the identity of the object.

2. Print and hang the “Freedom Quotes” (linked above) around the room. Have students walk around the room, read each quote, and then stand by the quote that best fits their vision of freedom. Ask students to explain their choices.

3. Hand out red and green strips of paper to every student. Read aloud the following scenarios (or create your own), having the students raise the red paper strip if they think the person in the scenario is enslaved and the green paper strip if they think the person is free. After all of the scenarios have been read, have students vote on who is the most enslaved/free.

  • Scenario #1 – “Five years ago I was arrested by the KGB and put in a forced labor camp in Siberia. They tell me when to get up, when to work, and when to go to bed – even when I am allowed to shower. I can’t make any decisions for myself.”
  • Scenario #2 – “I am shipwrecked on a desert island. I can do whatever I want, but there’s nobody to talk to and nothing to do.”
  • Scenario #3 – “I am a drug addict and live from high to high. Luckily, I married a millionaire and I can support this habit.”
  • Scenario #4 – “My child was born with a severe physical disability. I quit my job as a high-powered lawyer to care for him and now spend most of my days at home.”
  • Scenario #5 – “I absolutely love fashion. I can’t go out of the house without making sure every part of my outfit matches perfectly. I sometimes even buy shoes that I know won’t be comfortable because they are exactly the color of an item of clothing that I own.”
  • Scenario #6 – “I worked hard my entire life and became an extremely successful businessman. I was able to live lavishly and provide my family with all sorts of luxuries. Eventually, a scandal was uncovered and I lost everything. Now, I work 9-5 in a restaurant trying to make ends meet.”

4. Then, read together the excerpt from Natan Sharansky’s book Fear No Evil. This book discusses freedom at length in the context of Passover. Ask students to share their thoughts on Sharansky’s ability to maintain his inner, spiritual freedom while he was physically at the mercy of the KGB.

5. In conclusion, ask students to share personal stories of slavery and freedom – things they feel they are/were enslaved to and ways in which they were able to/can overcome them. (The attached blog about slavery to our electronic devices may resonate deeply with the students).

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