WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Individuals practicing Judaism are observing the second night of Passover on Tuesday, one of the most significant Jewish holidays commemorating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. This year, however, the traditional festivities are taking on a more somber note for many.

Dr. Jarrod Tanny, a Jewish history professor at UNCW who practices Judaism himself, sheds light on the subdued atmosphere of this year’s Passover gatherings. He says the ongoing conflict in the Middle East has cast a shadow over this year’s observances.

“The Jewish people are celebrating their freedom and the establishment of their state in antiquity,” says Dr. Tanny. “To live in a moment where our state is currently under assault and there’s a very complicated conflict going on in the Middle East… It’s not very straightforward as many people here in the West think that it’s just so simple to understand, it’s really not.”

Dr. Tanny emphasizes the complexity of the situation, highlighting that while many individuals take pride in their affiliation with Israel, they may not necessarily agree with all actions taken by the Israeli government. He encourages people to remember the lives lost on both sides of the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, urging a nuanced understanding of the challenges faced by those involved.

“When I teach my classes, I explain the Palestinian perspective. I don’t delegitimize it. My hope is some day there will be two states. A Jewish state and a Palestinian state side by side. Again, I don’t live over there and I don’t get a say in how politics work,” said Dr. Tanny. “I would ask people that don’t know about it to actually listen to the Jews and listen to what we have to say about it. The vast majority of us do not dislike Palestinian people in any way whatsoever.”

Passover continues through Tuesday, April 30.