During our Passover Seder, we retell the story of our ancestors’ movement from enslavement to a free people. Our Israelite forebears endured generations of cruelty and oppression until God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush and our Exodus story began to unfold.
Not only does the Passover narrative remind us how far our people have come, but it also reaffirms our need to work towards a world that is free of oppression and filled with equity. Here are a few ways that you can orient your Passover Seder in an actionable way that reignites your commitment to the pursuit of justice.
- Put an orange on your Seder Plate. An orange on your Seder plate represents the inequity and oppression experienced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. Of course, while an orange on your Seder plate is symbolic, you can take substantive action on LGBTQ+ rights by urging your elected officials to reprioritize passing The Equality Act, H.R. 5.
- Advocate for rights and protections for asylum seekers. Our collective memory of being an oppressed people must serve as an impetus for us to work towards a world in which asylum seekers and new immigrants are welcomed and cared for, rather than subjugated to cruel treatment and unsanitary living conditions. To take direct action, call your California elected officials and urge them to pass AB 1368, which provides and funds social services for asylum seekers.
- Educate yourself, and others, on the perils of mass incarceration. When retelling the story of our peoples’ enslavement in Egypt, it is hard not to draw a connection to the approximately 2.2 million incarcerated Americans, many of whom are behind bars for non-violent crimes. Outdated sentencing guidelines and cash bail has led to overcrowded jails and prisons. Read about what the Brennan Center for Justice is doing to end mass incarceration, and discuss it with your Seder guests.
As we learn from Rabbi Sari Laufer, Director of Congregational Engagement at Stephen Wise Temple in Los Angeles, “One of the core lessons of the Exodus is the impulse toward empathy. Over and over, the Torah returns to this narrative, reminding us to protect and love and be kind to the stranger, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.”