This Monday evening we will sit around our seder tables and retell the story of Passover. The Haggadah instructs us to think of the exodus of our ancestors from Egypt as if we ourselves had been redeemed. The essence of Passover is as relevant today as it was during zman cheruteinu – the time when we were freed. Here are some resources that highlight the plight of immigrants and refugees, celebrate the accomplishments of immigrants in our communities, and offer stories and anecdotes to illustrate the wide Jewish support for fixing our country’s broken immigration system:
- HIAS, the global migration agency of the American Jewish community, created We Are Refugees: A Guide for “Welcoming the Stranger” to Your Seder Table. This tool offers a way to welcome a virtual refugee to the seder table, with hopes of enriching the Passover experience with an additional layer of information and immediacy.
- T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights developed Ten Ways to Bring Human Rights to Your Seder, which urges people to do simple things – like place a tomato on the seder place in solidarity with agricultural workers in Florida – to symbolize and incorporate contemporary human rights issues during Passover.
- Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring developed Seder for a Better World: An Activist’s Hagodeh which debuted at a recent event in New York City. During the section on the Ten Plagues, participants are led to recite that as a community “our cup is diminished when fear of today’s immigrants violates the humanity of our neighbors and dishonors our own struggles for acceptance when we were immigrants.”
- Jewish Community Action developed a Passover Haggadah for their 11th annual Immigrant Freedom Seder in St. Paul, MN. This year’s event was attended by over 200 people who recalled the Passover story, celebrated its message of freedom, and learned about campaigns related to social and economic justice.
- Rabbis Organizing Rabbis, which is a joint project of the Reform Movement: the Justice and Peace Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Religious Action Center, and the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations, developed Immigration Seder Ritual which encourages discussion about how individual family stories connect to this historic moment of reforming our country’s immigration system.
- Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice developed a Haggadah Supplement which highlights experiences of Jewish immigration to the U.S., and urges individuals to think about whether their ancestors would fare if they were trying to come to America today.
- Jews United for Justice developed Let My People Go Home Sick for their 12th annual Labor Seder in Washington, DC. The theme for this year’s seder focused on JUFJ’s Paid Sick Days campaign – the haggadah mentions that “not having access to paid sick days disproportionally affects the immigrant community and puts everyone at risk.”
- IKAR, a progressive, egalitarian Jewish community in Los Angeles, developed a Citizenship Haggadah which highlights the stories of undocumented immigrants and provides concrete information about how individuals can get involved in their current immigration initiatives.
- Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Senior Rabbi at Leyv Ha-Ir (Heart of the City) in Philadelphia developed a DREAM Seder, highlighting the stories of undocumented students that would benefit from passage of the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
- Rabbi Maralee Gordon of the McHenry County Jewish Congregation wrote a speech for JCUA’s Freedom Seder in Chicago. In her speech, Rabbi Gordon reflects on her involvement in a regular visitation program to provide interfaith ministry to immigrants detained only a few miles away from her home.
- Rabbi Mark Diamond, Director of AJC Los Angeles, published an op-ed that ran in the Jewish Journal where he ties in the upcoming Passover holiday as he reflects on a recent study tour of the San Diego-Tijuana border to learn about the complexities and challenges of immigration reform.
- The Jewish Social Justice Roundtable organized a letter signed by 70 Jewish leaders, urging North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory to strike down a proposed law which would require undocumented immigrants to carry licenses with a bold pink stripe indicating their lack of legal status, which was set to go into effect the day before Passover.
- The We Were Strangers, Too: Jewish Campaign for Immigration Reform delivered a pre-Passover letter to President Obama and Congress, signed by 100 Jewish organizations and leaders, calling for an overhaul of our nation’s broken immigration system.
Please feel free to utilize these materials at your seder, and email us to get involved with the We Were Strangers, Too campaign.