During the Passover Seder, the symbolic items on the traditional Seder plate help us to tell the story of the Exodus, with its cruelty, hardships, plagues, flight and tears. Some people add additional items to their plate to spark conversation about issues of the day.
With our third annual Second Seder Plate, Jewish World Watch once again is inviting everyone to take this trend a step further, to focus on this challenging moment in time, when forced exodus has become commonplace across the world, and the plight of the 70.8 million refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide is so precarious. We encourage you to create a Second Seder Plate for your table to inspire reflection: As we recall what the Hebrews endured in Egypt, we can take a few moments to talk about the modern-day survivors of genocide and mass atrocities.
We have created a sample plate with easy-to-find objects that will be familiar to people of all ages. Each object matches a picture and explanation tying it to a Jewish World Watch program. The symbols we suggest may also inspire you to find your own objects to serve as reminders of the disadvantaged and displaced.
The goal is to deepen our empathy for the world’s most vulnerable people so that we will act on their behalf.
We hope your Seder will be filled with new ideas and learning. Please encourage everyone at your table to follow up by reaching out to help in some way. We have suggestions based on our work on each of the perforated, easily detachable cards that follow. Thank you for joining us as we work as partners to heal survivors and to prevent conflicts that will cause future Exoduses.
Sending you wishes for a meaningful Seder, from the Board and Staff of Jewish World Watch
The Darfuris of Sudan fled genocide in 2004; today, more than 300,000 Darfuris remain in refugee camps in Chad. As the world’s humanitarian aid food supplies are stretched thin to meet the growing number of displaced, through your support many Darfuris are being taught perma-gardening techniques to grow their own food. This water-efficient farming produces lush crops of vegetables, including cucumbers, year-round. Refugees now can feed their families without leaving the camps.
FACT: Darfuri women are at risk of sexual violence outside the camps, so growing food close to home keeps them safe and well-nourished.
ACT: Help the new Sudanese government and create a future for the Darfuris in their homeland by encouraging your representatives to support the civilian-led transition’s reform agenda via the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability and Financial Transparency Act of 2020 (H.R. 6094) at jww.org/SudanTransitionAct
DISCUSS: What would you miss the most if you were unable to return home?
Stamps represent communication. China has cut off or is surveilling virtually all interaction with the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group based in East Turkestan (China’s northwestern Xinjiang region). An estimated 2 million Uyghurs are in internment camps, subject to torture and forced labor without formal charges or legal representation.
FACT: The Chinese government claims its crackdown on the Uyghurs is a security measure, yet its arbitrary, targeted detention, reported use of torture against detainees, and the transformation of Xinjiang into a surveillance state rise to the level of crimes against humanity.
ACT: The bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act was just introduced in both chambers of Congress. The legislation would require importers to prove the production of goods is untainted by forced Uyghur labor, and would sanction officials responsible for systematic exploitation of Uyghurs. Go to jww.org/UyghurAct to support this crucial Uyghur legislation.
DISCUSS: What would you say to loved ones under surveillance?
Children in refugee camps need to be educated, yet schools in the camps are often limited by a host country’s rules. In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Rohingya children are forces to learn in English, even though often neither they nor their teachers speak the language. The Scrabble tiles on our Seder Plate symbolize the English language, radically different in alphabet and vocabulary from the Rohingya dialect.
Jewish World Watch is underwriting digital education programs in 75 Rohingya schools in the refugee camps, which use technology and innovative programming to teach 7,500 children in their native dialect, reinforcing their identity and inspiring them to learn more.
FACT: Since the genocide perpetrated by the Myanmar military began in August 2017, nearly 800,000 Rohingya have fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Almost 60 percent of the refugees are children.
ACT: Support projects like this at jww.org/Passover
DISCUSS: What barriers are created by being forced to learn in a foreign language?
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), armed militias sometimes violate whole villages. In the remotest regions, survivors have no doctors or recourse to justice. Working with our longtime Congolese partner, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, Jewish World Watch is sending doctors, psychologists and attorneys to affected communities to heal survivors and advocate for justice.
The gauze represents a simple yet vital healing tool. Restoring the whole person, including the broken heart, requires time and care – which your support helps provide.
FACT: An estimated 200,000 surviving rape victims live in the DRC today.
ACT: Ask your elected officials to support the Accountability for Sexual and Gender-based Violence as a Tool in Conflict Act (H.R. 3212 & S. 1777), to prioritize U.S. help with prevention and response to conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, visit jww.org/AccountabilityAct
DISCUSS: What tools would you take to rescue a pillaged village?
These Legos represent the creative innocence of childhood stolen from as many as 30,000 boys and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who have been abducted to become soldiers.
Through your support, and with our brave partners in the DRC, Jewish World Watch has been securing the release of these boys and girls through risky negotiations with armed groups. Once the children are freed, each receives psychosocial assistance and help to reunite with family. Those without family get continued care, including education and vocational training.
FACT: Conscripting children under the age of 18 for armed conflict is prohibited by international law.
ACT: Support projects like this at jww.org/Passover
DISCUSS: How would you reintegrate a former child soldier back into society?
The region of Idlib, one of the last rebel strongholds inside Syria, is being bombed relentlessly – including targeting hospitals. The rubble on our Seder Plate reminds us of the ongoing catastrophe, where civilians are wounded and killed daily as collateral damage in ongoing war crimes. Despite the danger, heroic Syrian doctors have remained in Idlib, making makeshift healing spaces where they continue to save lives.
With your help, Jewish World Watch supports these incredible doctors in Idlib by delivering essential, life-saving medical supplies to dozens of makeshift hospitals, supplying them with the tools and equipment needed most.
FACT: More than 3 million people are believed to remain in desperate conditions in the Idlib region. The current humanitarian crisis there is said to be the worst since the conflict began in 2011.
ACT: Support this lifesaving project by making a donation at jww.org/SyriaSupplies
DISCUSS: What does a doctor need to save lives in a war zone?