In the weeks leading up to Passover, people from diverse faiths and ethnic backgrounds came together in different parts of the country to celebrate the Jewish tradition of the Passover Seder at events sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
Passover is a Jewish holiday commemorating the story of Exodus, when the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt and traveled to the Promised Land.
As part of a longstanding tradition, ADL brought together communities of differing faiths and ethnic backgrounds with Jews to learn about and celebrate the universal values and themes in the story of Passover: freedom from political oppression and slavery, an obligation to remember, and the importance of teaching about our heritage.
The following is a sampling of ADL Interfaith Seders in 2012:
Immigrants exiled due to ongoing violence in northern Mexico joined with the local Jewish community to celebrate Passover at the University of Texas-Austin's Mexican-Jewish Seder. More than 140 participants, including Travis County District Judge Gisela Triana and Incoming Chair of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Geronimo Rodriguez shared stories of struggle and freedom, ate traditional Passover and Mexican foods, listened to Jewish and Mexican music, and joined in Israeli dancing. The event benefited Mexicanos en el Exilio, an organization that aims to act as a legal defense fund for activists and reporters in northern Mexico.
Approximately 400 people, including Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, the Consul Generals of Ecuador, Germany and Israel, and the Vice Consuls of Haiti and Israel, attended the 5th Annual Nation of Immigrants Community Seder. Held March 11 at the University of Massachusetts-Boston campus, the Seder highlighted the notion that all Americans come from somewhere else and that taken collectively, these individual journeys help empower America.The event also featured a "Lion Dance" performance by Gund Kwa, an all-women Chinese dance troupe.
On March 22, approximately 200 people attended the 20th Annual North Shore Interfaith Seder at the Marblehead JCC to celebrate freedom and interfaith understanding. The event began two decades ago after an anti-Semitic incident on the North Shore, when a group of individuals mobilized to plan a program that would teach respect and strengthen the community. This year's Seder was led by Jed Filler, Director of the Center for Jewish Education and Cantor Elana Rozenfeld, both of Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.
ADL, in partnership with The University of Nevada-Las Vegas, is scheduled to host a Multi-Cultural Freedom Seder on April 12 and will consist of student leaders, faculty members, and local Jewish community members.
Rockville Centre Bishop William F. Murphy joined more than 40 middle school students and 12 educators from two Manhattan schools – The Epiphany School and the Solomon Schechter School – for the Catholic-Jewish Seder on March 19. Participants learned about the traditional elements of a Seder, which included asking questions, singing songs of praise, and eating matzo – the traditional Passover unleavened bread. They also made posters representing the different elements of the Seder and how those features relate to Jewish and Catholic traditions.
ADL cosponsored the 2nd Annual Jewish-Catholic Seder, held at The Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph's University on March 25. Participants were served a traditional Passover meal, and joined in prayers and songs to celebrate the holiday.