Dinah, the daughter of Leah and Jacob, went out one day in search for the daughters of the land of Shechem. While she was walking, the prince of Shechem saw her, took and lay with her by force. When Jacob, Dinah’s father, was told of his daughter being raped he kept silent. But when Jacob’s sons heard the news of what happened to their sister they were distressed and outraged. The story goes on to explain that the king of Shcechem offered a deal to Jacob and his sons. In exchange for Dinah, Jacob’s people were offered the daughters of Shechem for themselves on the condition that all the men in Shechem got circumcised. However, during all of this negotiating over bodies, Dinah’s brothers instead killed every male in Shechem along with the king and his son. They shamed Dinah’s name and her experience as a rape victim by justifying their killing spree, exclaiming, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”
The story of Dinah is representative of rape culture today. Dinah was not given a voice by the same people who shamed her for being raped, and her pain as a rape victim/survivor was muddled by the notion that she was soiling the family name. Her father and brothers took control of her, and then commodi ed the bodies of every single woman in Shechem. Dinah’s suffering is rarely shared, which is why we have decided to give Dinah a voice during this Seder about liberation from cultures of sexual violence.
Traditionally, the second cup of wine during a Seder helps us to remember God’s promise to save the Israelites from the forced labor of the Egyptian taskmasters. With this second cup, we turn our thoughts to those who have been forced to have sex against their will into sex by rapists and sexual predators.
Jewish tradition mandates us to remember human atrocities, and we embody this practice by reading and remembering names. Our names are precious because when they are stripped away, replaced with prison numbers, or forgotten after death, we lose pieces of our dignity and part of what makes us human. In honor of this practice, we present on the next page a list of names and a few details of a handful of people who lost their lives to sexual/gender-based violence in recent years. We hope to restore a small piece of the dignity that was ripped away from each of them by reading their names aloud, and lighting a candle for each person that will burn for the remainder of this Seder.
In addition, if you look to the head of the table, you will see there is an extra place setting. At our Seder, Dinah has a literal seat at the table. You will also notice that duct tape has been added to the Seder plate. The duct tape signifies the silencing that victims/survivors of rape and rape culture face. If you feel compelled, we encourage you to add a name you would like to remember or think about by ripping o a piece of duct tape and sticking it to Dinah’s chair while you silently say the name to yourself. We hope that this ritual helps to give a voice to those a ected by rape. A voice that Dinah, and many others, do not have.
As the leader reads the names below, we invite you to close your eyes. Consider memorizing one name to meditate on an say aloud a er you leave this Seder. Light one candle for each name read aloud.
Tiffany Brooke Thrasher: Shamburg, IL; 33 years old;
April, 2017 Death: Homicide
daughter, sister, niece, cousin.
Shirley Regina Morgan: Bronzeville, Chicago, IL; 47 years old;
November, 2007 Death: related to criminal sexual assault with a weapon
Alisha N. Brom eld-Anicich: Joilet, IL; 21 years old; August
2012 Death: Homicide
Daughter, Sister, Mother to be (of Ava Lucille); granddaughter, student
Sabrina Stauffenberg: Olney, IL; 8 years old
Hannah Graham: Charlottesville, NC; 18 years old;
September 2014 Death: Homicide
Student, daughter, friend
Victoria Martens: Albuquerque, NM; 10 years old;
August 2016 Death: Homicide
Cherelle Jovanna Locklear: Wayne, NJ; 21 years old;
November 2015 Death: Suicide
Student, daughter, friend.
Lizzy Seeberg: Northbrook, Illinois; 19 years old;
September 2010 Death: Suicide
Student, daughter, sister, friend.
Shannon Jones: Ithaca, NY; 22 years old;
November 2015 Death: Homicide
Student, Sister, daughter, friend.
Nadia Ezaldein: Chicago, IL; 22 years old;
November 2014 Death: Homicide
Student, Sister, Daughter, Friend.
Haruka Weiser: Austin, TX; 18 years old;
April 2016 Death: Homicide
Student, Daughter, Sister. Beloved.
Cecilia Lam: San Francisco, IL; 35 years old;
October 2014 Death: Homicide
Student, Sister, Friend.
Diamoney Greene: South Carolina; 20 years old;
November 2014 Death: Homicide
Mother, Daughter, Friend, Student.
Un-named: For those who’s names don’t appear on this list, but deserve to be remembered.
After reading the list of names, each par cipant may take a moment to contribute their own names by adding duct tape to Dinah’s chair. Then, pour, bless, and drink the second cup.
B'rukha atah Adonai Eloheynu ruach ha'olam boray p'ri hagafen.
Blessed are you, Our God, Spirit of the World, who creates the fruit of the vine.
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