Thousands Reached Through Interfaith Seders In 2005
Posted: April 21, 2005
In the weeks leading up to Passover, thousands of people from various faiths and ethnic backgrounds came together in different parts of the country to celebrate the Jewish tradition of the Passover Seder in events sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.
The Passover holiday commemorates the deliverance from Egyptian bondage as the beginning of national history and the time of the barley season, remembrance of the relationship of Israel with the land.
In a longstanding tradition of furthering intergroup understanding, ADL brings together communities of differing faiths and ethnic backgrounds with Jews to learn about and celebrate the common themes in the story of Passover: liberation from slavery, freedom from political oppression and the obligation to remember and teach about our heritage. This year, in cities across the country, Interfaith Seders have brought together Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, religious and community leaders, and others to share in the experience of the Seder.
The following is a summary of ADL Interfaith Seders held around the country this year:
New York City:
More than 100 Jews and Hispanics attended an Interfaith Seder held April 7 at New Life International Outreach, a Pentecostal Church in the Bronx. The Seder, part of ADL's ongoing outreach to the Hispanic community, was held in a church in a predominantly Latino neighborhood that was originally built as a synagogue. Church members had expressed an interest in continuing to forge ties with the Jewish community.
• The 15th annual Catholic Jewish Interfaith Seder, co-sponsored by ADL's New England Regional Office and the Archdiocese of Boston, was held April 17. Nearly 180 Jews and Catholics participated in the event, continuing a long tradition of close ties between the Catholic and Jewish communities in the region.
• On the South Shore of Massachusetts, ADL invited more than 30 religious leaders from various communities and members of their congregations or youth groups to join with others whose towns have participated in the ADL's No Place for Hate™ program. This year's Seder attracted 275 participants from communities across the South Shore.
• The 13th Annual North Shore Seder was held April 7 at St. John's Preparatory School in Danvers and a significant number of the 350 in attendance were affiliated with the school. The Jewish Federation of the North Shore made a significant contribution to fund the event, which received additional community support from the St. John's Prep Student Union, St. John's Prep Campus Ministry, St. Mary of Annunciation Parish, Danvers Committee for Diversity, Holocaust Center Boston North, Temple Ner Tamid and the Guild of St. William at St. John's Prep.
In New Jersey, ADL hosted the 6th Annual Interfaith Solidarity Seder on April 30th at the Livingston Student Center at Rutgers University. More than 160 people attended the event, including representatives of local African-American, Jewish, Catholic, Hindu and Muslim communities. Government representatives also attended, including the director of the New Jersey Commission on Human Rights, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and representatives from the office of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ.
ADL's New Orleans Office co-hosted an Interfaith Seder with Loyola University, Tulane University and the New Orleans community. The Seder was a collaborative effort of the Jewish Federation, ADL, Tulane, Hillel and Loyola University. Nearly 150 attended the Seder, whose purpose was to promote Jewish-Catholic relations.
More than 500 African-Americans and Jews joined at a downtown hotel on April 19 to honor common bonds at an annual "Freedom Seder" sponsored by ADL, the Chicago Urban League, Chicago Board of Rabbis, Leaders United and Temple Sholom of Chicago. Now in its eight year, the annual Seder has been described as a "smash hit" in bringing together two groups that share common experiences of slavery and prejudice. The 2005 Seder commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a segregated city bus in 1955.
Orange County, CA:
Almost 300 members of the Jewish and Latino communities in Orange County gathered on April 18 to celebrate a community Seder. The Seder, now in its sixth year, brings together leaders from both communities and members of the Orange Diocese. Led by a Rabbi Shelton Donnell and Bishop Jaime Soto, the celebration featured local children from both communities and musicians from local churches and synagogues. The event was attended by the Mexican Consul-General, members of the local congressional delegation and staff, city council members and community leaders. The Seder was conducted in Hebrew, Spanish, and English and featured Ladino musical selections. Jews and Latinos shared tables, and members of the Jewish community guided their Latino friends through the service. At the completion of the Seder, Rabbi Heidi Cohen gave a tour of the temple and explained the basic tenets of Judaism.
ADL's Atlanta Office invited local interfaith clergy to join a family Seder. The participants included a Presbyterian minister, Episcopal priest and Catholic priest and an African-American official from the state Attorney General's Office. The clergy members will be participating in ADL's delegation to the March of the Living in Poland this year.