As we prepare to celebrate Passover next week, Jews around the world pause to reflect upon the story of our ancestors’ Exodus out of slaves. We are called to turn our memory into action to fight to for human dignity for all people. The Jewish community’s history of banishment, exile, and flight leads us to advocate for reforming the U.S. immigration system in a way that is consistent with our Jewish and American values.
To prepare for this special time of year, several Jewish community leaders and organizations have written articles and created materials about immigration themes and broader social justice issues. We encourage you to integrate these resources into your Passover celebrations:
- HIAS, the Jewish community’s refugee protection agency, invites you to include a special reading called On This Night as part of your seder, before the telling of the Exodus story.
- The Rene Cassin Fellowship Program, in partnership with Tzedek, JCORE, and the Jewish Social Action Forum, created a Haggadah Companion to relate Passover to “issues that are at the core of the Exodus story and which remain of great contemporary relevance: slavery, refugees, and human rights.”
- T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights – along with Ameinu, Right Now, the New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Act in Sudan, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and others – developed a Refugee Seder Supplement to call attention to the estimated 53,000 people who have fled violence and persecution in East Africa who are currently living in Israel.
- HIAS Pennsylvania created a haggadah insert entitled “Four Cups, Four Immigrants: Our Story, America’s Story,” which invites readers to learn the stories of four contemporary immigrants and advocate for compassionate immigration reform.
- In “Giving Up Chametz Is Not Enough,” Mark Hetfield, HIAS’ President & CEO says that “the lessons we relearn on Passover help to raise our awareness and create solidarity with the vulnerable populations of today.” Hetfield calls on the Jewish community to turn their memory into action by joining HIAS in the Live Below the Line campaign as a way of raising awareness about global poverty and the plight of refugees.
- In “Why Immigration Reform is a Jewish Issue,” Stosh Cotler, Bend the Arc’s CEO, writes that “Jews have always been immigrants. We’re always searching for a safe place to call home. That is one reason we are so invested in making sure that today’s immigrants have the opportunity to build their lives in America like we did.”