2015 Passover Roundup

by Isaac Flegel-Mishlove, Refugee Policy Intern, HIAS

As we clean our houses of chametz and prepare to cook the Seder meal for Passover this Friday, Jews worldwide will also take time to reflect on our own ancestors’ Exodus from slavery. Our own refugee story. On Passover, we are instructed to think, feel, and even act as if we were the refugees fleeing Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and eventually finding safe haven in a foreign land.

After we have eaten and prayed, it is upon us, Aleinu, to transform our painful memories of bondage and our celebrations of freedom into a fight for liberation for all people. We think especially of the 16 million refugees worldwide and the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

We encourage you to look at the phenomenal work that several organizations have created (and that we have compiled, below) to help you incorporate education, advocacy, and action on immigration and refugee issues into your Passover celebration.

  • Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Vice President for Community Engagement at HIAS, shared a reflection as we enter the Passover season of reliving trauma, celebrating liberty, and advocating for others in need. It discusses the importance of children in the Passover Seder, and encourages us to show compassion towards the thousands of Central American children seeking safety in the U.S.
  • After their widely attended and successful “Getting to the Promised Land” Seder in Chicago, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs published this review of the event with links and summaries of the speeches. The Haggadah was entitled “Getting to the Promised Land,” and the event Seder featured a speaker who discussed immigration issues in the U.S.
  • Jewish Community Action in St. Paul, Minnesota hosted their annual Immigrant Freedom Seder, which featured a variety of songs and poems to help tell stories of our communities’ current and past social justice struggles related to immigrant rights. The Haggadah includes discussion questions, table readings, songs, and prayer interpretations.
  • The Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee created a beautiful Haggadah for their “Community Social Justice Seder.” The Seder’s theme this year was Hispanic/Jewish relationships and also incorporated issues of poverty.
  • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New England Region held its 8th annual Nation of Immigrants Community Seder which celebrated the diverse stories and cultures of various immigrant and ethnic communities. The materials distributed at the event included information about state-level immigration legislation and a list of kids’ books that touch on issues of migration and displacement. The Boston Globe covered the event in an article that ran earlier this week.

In addition, the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable has a webpage listing a variety of Seders and resources for social justice oriented Passover celebrations, including several events related to refugee and immigration issues.

For more resources, check out previous “We Were Strangers, Too” Passover Roundups:

WWS2 Passover Roundup 2013

WWS2 Passover Roundup 2014