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Multifaith Seder: Food, Immigrant Experience and Justice

Michael Ramberg (RRC, 2012) who is serving this year as a Multifatih Intern with the New Sanctuary Movement and Congregation Mishkan Shalom helped plan this event.

Multifaith SederLast Friday night around 130 Jews, Christians, and friends gathered at Mishkan Shalom synagogue for a pre-Pesah (Passover) multifaith seder which I helped to organize as part of my internship with Mishkan Shalom and the New Sanctuary Movement. In many ways the event resembled a traditional seder. We ate seder foods--matzah, maror (bitter herbs, usually horseradish), haroset (a sweet, chunky paste, often made from apples and nuts), hardboiled eggs and parsley dipped in salt water. We asked four questions and drank four cups of wine. We sang Dayenu, and it all took a very long time--par for the course for a traditional seder.

In other ways, though, this seder night was different from other seder nights. On Friday night we came together to draw on the Passover ritual’s unique power to galvanize the struggle for freedom--after all, the first Passover meal happened on the eve of the Israelite slaves’ exodus from Egypt. And just like at the time of the original Passover meal, the oppression we sought to overcome was palpable. This reality was brought home most clearly by a speaker who didn’t speak at all. Ana, an immigrant from Honduras, had agreed to share some of her experiences in this country, including the agony of having one of her daughters served with a deportation order. At 6:30 am last Friday morning, agents from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided her home looking for her brother-in-law. The man wasn’t there, but agents took her son-in-law and promised they would raid the house again if the brother-in-law didn’t turn himself in. Understandably, Ana was too worried about her family to participate in the seder. As we sat in silent prayer for Ana and her family, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my awareness that our immigration policy is a form of slavery for millions of immigrants, and we are called to stand with them and demand their freedom.

Michael Ramberg serves as an RRC Multifaith Intern through the generosity of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

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