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Interfaith


Thousands Reached Through Interfaith Seders in 2006

Posted: April 5, 2006

In the weeks leading up to Passover, thousands of people from diverse 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 universal values and themes in the story of Passover: liberation from slavery, freedom from political oppression, 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 some of the many ADL Interfaith Seders held around the country this year:

(From left to right): Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr., Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Rabbi Barry Katz of Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, Joel J. Levy, ADL New York Regional Director, and Pastor Fernando Cabrera of New Life Outreach International Church at the 2nd Annual Jewish Latino Interfaith Seder held in Riverdale, NY.

New York City:
On March 28, ADL's New York Regional Board sponsored the 2nd annual Jewish-Latino Interfaith Seder as part of its ongoing efforts to reach out with programming and dialogue to New York's burgeoning Hispanic community.  The program was sponsored in part by the office of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión Jr., who attended the Seder with more than 100 community members, including Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

The services were jointly led by Rabbi Barry Katz of Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale and Pastor Fernando Cabrera, whose New Life Outreach International Church is located in a predominately Latino neighborhood and was originally built as a synagogue in the first part of the 20th century.

The Borough President Adolfo Carrión, a
New York City
mayoral candidate, announced that he has appointed Rabbi Katz and Reverend Cabrera as co-chairs of his Jewish-Hispanic outreach effort, and specifically charged them with forging similar joint ventures.

Chicago
:
Nearly 500 African-Americans and Jews from across Chicagoland came together on March 21 to celebrate freedom and to call for a halt to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan
, at the 9th Annual African-American/Jewish Seder.

Sponsored by ADL, Chicago Urban League and Leaders United, the Passover Seder brought together two communities who have experienced the journey from slavery to freedom firsthand. It reaffirmed the spiritual ties binding these communities, reflected upon similar histories and reasserted the shared commitment to opposing bigotry in all forms.

 
Cantor Aviva Katzman with the Soul Children of Chicago

"The Seder demonstrates the important bonds that exist between the African-American and Jewish communities here in Chicago ," said Lonnie Nasatir, Regional Director of ADL's Greater Chicago/Upper Midwest office. "It is an opportunity for leaders of both communities to come together to celebrate all that we have in common.  However, as we honor our freedom, we must work together to fight the horrific oppression that afflicts far too many people in our world today, including the genocide in Darfur .  

"The African-American and the Jewish communities cannot remain silent in the face of genocide. The clock is ticking. We must act."

The co-officiants at this year's Seder were Rabbi Ira Youdovin, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, and Reverend B. Herbert Martin, Reverend of The Progressive Community Center -- The People's Church.  Music was provided by Cantor Aviva Katzman of
Temple Sholom
and Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago.

New Jersey

On Tuesday, April 4 more than 160 leaders of the interfaith community gathered at The Robert Treat Hotel in Newark for the 7th Annual New Jersey ADL Interfaith Solidarity Seder. This year’s theme highlighted the contributions that so many in the community have made in raising awareness about the ongoing humanitartian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. By incorporating readings, songs and artwork into the traditional Seder, an uplifting ceremony was created to memorialize those whose lives have been lost due to ethnic hatred.

ADL welcomed statements from Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez as well as representatives from the FBI, New Jersey Division of Civil Rights and police departments around the state.  Additionally, by partnering with the New Jersey Responds to the Crisis in Darfur Sudan Coalition and Darfur Rehabilitation Project, the League was able to incorporate artwork from Darfur refugee camps into the evening as well.

A number of dignitaries participated in the recitation of the Haggadah, the traditional telling of the Passover story, including: William Davidson, ADL State Chair; Mark Ali of the Essex County Prosecutors Office; Ved Chaudhary, Hindu International Council Against Defamation; Joan Diefenbach, Director, NJ Council of Churches; Blanche Foster, Executive Director of Darfur Rehabilitation Project;  Rev. Jack Johnson, Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church;  Dorothy Lee, President Newark Chapter of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People;  Rabbi Eliot Malomet, Highland Park Conservative Temple; Martine Perez, President Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey; Joyce Reilly, Co-Chair New Jersey Responds to the Crisis in Darfur Sudan; Pastor Moacir Weirich, Grace Community Lutheran Church, Newark. 

Omaha, Nebraska
On March 22, ADL held a Passover Seder for Catholic educators and students of Catholic Biblical School, an archdiocesan program for Catholics who want to study the Scriptures in greather depth.  The Catholics gathered at the local Jewish Community Center for a model Seder.  The Seder was an attempt to built good will and respect between the two faiths, and to raise awareness among Christians about Jewish traditions.  Omaha Regional Director Bob Wolfson led the group of about 70 Christians through the Seder, explaining the traditions and the story of the exodus from Egypt .

Massachusetts
ADL's New England Region and the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore sponsored the 14th annual North Shore Interfaith Seder on March 23 at the JCC in Marblehead.  Rabbi Edgar Weinsberg of Congregation Shirat Hayam officiated.  Rabbi David Meyer and Rev. Dean Pedersen each received the Leonard P. Zakim Humanitarian Award for their efforts to build bridges in the
North Shore community.

Florida

The League's Florida Regional Office held an Interfaith Seder co-sponsored by Toward a More Perfect Union, a local organization focusing on providing study circles on race relations throughout the community.  The Seder was attended by leadership from both organizations and members of Temple Israel, Grace Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.  With more than 100 participants, the Seder was led by Regional Director Andrew Rosenkranz and Rabbi Howard Shapiro, spiritual leader of Temple Israel.  The response from all participants was overwhelmingly positive and powerful.

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2006 Anti-Defamation League