As we remember the biblical Exodus, let’s also remember the plight of today’s refugees. There are currently 68.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, 85 percent of them living in developing countries.
During Passover, the symbolic items on the traditional seder plate help us to tell the story of the Exodus, with its plagues, hardship, flight and tears. At some seders, people add additional symbols to the plate to spark discussion and make their Passover conversation more relevant to today.
This year Jewish World Watch is offering new ideas for a “Second Seder Plate,” including a new set of symbols to remind us of today’s exoduses and how they impact contemporary refugees. Once again, we hope to encourage reflection: As we recall what the Hebrews endured in Egypt, we can take some time to consider the plight of the modern-day displaced who have suffered from genocide and mass atrocities.
These symbols are drawn from everyday objects around the house and are meant to inspire you to find your own. This pamphlet is perforated so you can easily create flash cards that can be matched with your items on your seder plate. Or you can create your own version of a “Second Seder Plate” that will allow you to tell your own stories.
The goal is to deepen our empathy for today’s most vulnerable people.
We hope your seder will be filled with new ideas and learning. Please encourage everyone at your table to take action to offer help in some form, from raising your voices to advocate for refugees worldwide to supporting projects that enable and sustain the vulnerable. Thank you for joining us as we partner together to prevent future Exoduses.
Chag Sameach and Happy Passover from the Board and Staff of Jewish World Watch.
Why is a radish on our Second Seder Plate?
Radishes are just one of the vegetables that Darfuri refugees now grow in the desert of eastern Chad, where they have been living in temporary camps since fleeing genocide in Sudan as long as 16 years ago. The explosion of refugees worldwide has forced aid organizations to cut rations, and the Darfuris are among those suffering from malnutrition as a result. With your support, Jewish World Watch and our partners teach refugees in the camps highly water-efficient perma-gardening to grow lush crops that can survive the harsh Chadian climate. This gardening technique provides food for entire families and communities.
FACT: Chad is home to some 400,000 refugees, of which 310,000 are from the Darfur region in Sudan.
DISCUSS: What are five ways food insecurity can impact a person’s daily life?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s project to teach efficient gardening techniques to the Darfuris at jww.org/perma-gardening
Why are crayons on our Second Seder Plate?
Children love to draw; it’s one of the first activities in early education. However, crayons — let alone education — can be a luxury to many children. Often, children in refugee camps have no schools to attend, likewise in the impoverished regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tuition and fees can put schooling out of reach. Poor youth are forced to labor to support their families, such as by working in dangerous mines extracting valuable minerals that are then sold to support the militias. Without an education, these children can be susceptible to the lure of militias and other dangerous occupations as they grow up. With your help, JWW is paying for tuition and fees to provide an education to hundreds of children in need.
FACT: In the DRC, 3.5 million children, 26.7% of the country’s primary-age children, do not attend school.
DISCUSS: How might drawings by a child from the DRC differ from pictures drawn by a child in the United States?
Learn about Jewish World Watch’s education programs in the DRC at jww.org/DRC-education
Why are heirlooms on our Second Seder Plate?
During the Holocaust, many survivors held on to family photos and jewelry; some hid valuables in hopes of returning one day to retrieve what they owned. When a refugee flees, there’s very little time to gather belongings and keepsakes. If the refugee is on foot, which is often the case, then only the bare minimum can be carried. Valuables, such as necklaces and watches, are common mementos because they are often small and can easily be hidden. These pieces can be bartered for food and other necessities. The jewelry on this Second Seder Plate represents heirlooms passed on by family members through generations, preserving a connection to their past.
FACT: Refugees often have very little time to save valued family keepsakes.
DISCUSS: What would you bring if you had to flee your home without warning?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s current advocacy on behalf of refugees and other conflict affected people at jww.org/actions
Why is a water gun on our Second Seder Plate?
To many of us, even a toy water gun suggests violence. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some young children are forced to pick up and use real guns, not toys. Boys and girls as young as 10 years old are being abducted and conscripted into militias, where they serve as soldiers and slaves, often fighting alongside adults. Through your support, Jewish World Watch is working with experts in the DRC to extract these children from horrible circumstances, and, once they’re safe, to provide them with both physical and psychological transitional support so they can return to their families and communities.
FACT: Currently, an estimated 300,000 children are actively serving as soldiers around the world.
DISCUSS: What would you give to a former child soldier to help him or her heal?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s advocacy efforts on behalf of young children at jww.org/actions
Why are burnt matches on our Second Seder Plate?
There are many ways to destroy lives; fire is a potent one. The Myanmar military burned whole villages as part of a reign of terror to expel the Rohingya, a mostly Muslim ethnic group that has for generations experienced government-sanctioned discrimination in Myanmar. Tens of thousands have died in the Rohingya genocide, and some 900,000 have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, where many now live in fragile shelters. Fire was effectively used to destroy much of the evidence of the systemic murder in Myanmar, and as new vegetation fills in, the renewed land has allowed the Myanmar government to deny the genocide ever occurred. With your support, Jewish World Watch is helping to provide Rohingya families in refugee camps in Bangladesh with safer and more secure housing, as well as medical aid.
FACT: Today, more than 900,000 Rohingya live in refugee camps in Bangladesh.
DISCUSS: How do you prove a village once existed when all evidence has been burned and covered by new vegetation?
Learn about Jewish World Watch’s efforts to provide housing for the Rohingya at jww.org/rohingya-housing
Why is an Rx bottle on our Second Seder Plate?
We take medicine for granted, but what happens to people in a war zone? For the brave doctors who have remained in war-torn Syria, it is almost impossible to get medical supplies. With your support, Jewish World Watch has partnered with a humanitarian aid program to bring large shipments of medical supplies to heal the wounded and sick inside Syria.
FACT: More than just medicine, war zone doctors need everything from surgical gloves to syringes, and all of it must be delivered at great risk.
DISCUSS: What would it be like to be a doctor without supplies on the frontline of a war?
Learn more about Jewish World Watch’s medical supply shipments to Syria at jww.org/syria
Jewish World Watch is an expression of Judaism in action, bringing help and healing to survivors of mass atrocities around the globe and seeking to inspire people of all faiths and cultures to join the ongoing fight against genocide. JWW currently is working with survivors of conflict in Myanmar (Burma), Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
To download additional copies of this guide, please visit https://jww.org/SecondSederPlate
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