How to Talk about Race and Freedom at Your Passover Seder
Jews are a people of memory and action. On Passover, we tell and retell a collective narrative of liberation, preserved and developed through stories, teachings, and rituals. The Exodus story, though ancient, resonates through the generations as a story of deliverance from slavery to freedom. Struggles for freedom, personal and systemic, global and local, continue to be waged today.
The American political landscape has never been more volatile, more unpredictable, or more racialized. Racially and ethnically motivated attacks frighten minority populations; communities on the left and on the right decry the loss of their voices in the American conversation, and political groups are becoming polarized. In these unprecedented times, divisive forces only distance us from one another, leaving us no path to unity and hope.
Increasingly, we hear the mandate to move away from disunity and towards inclusion, but don’t know where to begin. How can we make ourselves ready to hear the stories of the marginalized, while making our own voices heard? How can we protect our communities from those who wish to divide us?
Keep in mind that we are all on very different timelines in terms of racial identity development, which can be a potential source of conflict, misunderstanding and alienation. In order to avoid conflict, we must establish rapport and trust with others. This process builds shared power and allows for deeper conversations.
This year, Be’chol Lashon collaborated with Repair the World to create materials to help bring the ancient Passover narrative into sharp focus for our modern times. Our goal is to introduce some tools to challenge this narrative and build a stronger and more inclusive Jewish community that is better equipped to wrestle with its own identity.
We have created two unique Seder resources:
Passover Trivia Place Cards
In some communities, like the Jewish communities of Ethiopia and Uganda, individuals find it easy to imagine themselves as coming out of Egypt, as, for them, Exodus and liberation are not just metaphors but lived experiences in their lifetimes. Even if we have not lived through a literal Exodus, we have an obligation—and an opportunity—to consider the meaning of this story in our own lives.
At Be’chol Lashon we see the struggle for racial justice in the Jewish community as directly tied to the global and diverse nature of the Jewish people. Most are not aware that 20% of American Jews identify as African American, Latinx, Asian, mixed race, Sephardic, and/or Mizrahi. To help raise awareness, welcome your guests to their seats with trivia place cards that celebrate Passover rituals and traditions from diverse Jewish communities around the world, reminding us that Jews are a multicultural people. Personalize and print them here.
Haggadah Insert: Avadim Hayinu / “we were slaves”
Why does the Haggadah say we were slaves in Egypt rather than our ancestors were slaves in Egypt? We created a discussion guide that can be used either as a supplement to the traditional storytelling or in its place. It includes several prompts to engage guests and encourage thoughtful conversation around race, diversity and liberation in our own lives. The guide can be found here.