New York, NY, April 22, 2009 … Extolling the virtues of unity, religious acceptance and interfaith cooperation, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan shared a symbolic Passover Seder with a group of Catholic and Jewish students.
The Interfaith Freedom Seder, organized and hosted by the Anti-
Defamation League (ADL), brought together more than 100 seventh and eighth-grade students from the Immaculate Conception School of Jamaica Estates, Queens and Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County.
"Today, ADL joins our Catholic friends and neighbors in offering our hearty welcome to Archbishop Dolan as the 10th Archbishop of New York," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "We look forward to working with Archbishop Dolan to enhance the ongoing dialogue and programs between the Archdiocese and the Jewish community. The Catholic-Jewish relationship in New York is unique and has contributed to Catholic-Jewish understanding that has set an example that reaches beyond our city."
Mr. Foxman led the group in reciting two Jewish blessings made in the Archbishop's honor, and presented Archbishop Dolan with a mezuzah, a traditional encasing of parchment scroll, to affix to the doorpost of his new residence.
"This is awesome for me," Archbishop Dolan said. "I have long admired the work of the Anti-Defamation League from afar, and now to receive your welcome and your assurances of our hope for future cooperation, which I enthusiastically share, means very much to me."
During the Seder, which occurred one day after Holocaust Memorial Day, Archbishop Dolan discussed the importance of mutual respect and religious acceptance.
"Every person deserves dignity and respect. They [the Jewish people] learned the hard way, the tragic way what happens when that fundamental religious belief is not respected, and we now unite with them and hold hands in seeing that that never happens again.
"I look forward to our cooperation that's been part of the legacy and the heritage here in the greater New York community."
Seder participants asked the Four Questions of Passover, recounted the ten plagues inflicted on ancient Egypt and ate matzo – the traditional Passover unleavened bread. Each table contained the traditional Passover Seder plate, as well as multi-colored jellybeans to represent diversity, and twizzlers candy to represent the whips of slavery.
Students from each school made presentations about the history of slavery – from biblical to modern times. Students from the Immaculate Conception school also led a group performance of two choir pieces.
The Interfaith Seder program, now in its fourth year and hosted by the Intergroup Committee of ADL's New York Regional Board, recognizes the universal bonds of oppression and slavery that are shared by many races, religions and cultures. It is an outgrowth of the League's Bearing Witness™ Program, an annual Holocaust training for Catholic school teachers.