Welcome to the Latino-Jewish Student Coalition’s Fourth Annual Freedom Seder. In the spirit of Passover, let’s start with a few questions: what is a “seder,” let alone a “freedom seder” and why Latinos and Jews?
A seder literally translates to “order” in Hebrew and marks the ritual meal held the first two nights of Passover, the Jewish holiday that is both a celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt and a protest for those left behind. During a seder we read from the Haggadah, the book you’re holding now, rich in the most thought provoking of questions, traditions and text. It is written cryptically on purpose, so please discuss at your tables and ask questions if something needs clarifying.
The Haggadah tells us that in every generation we must personally feel as if we are still slaves coming out of Egypt. We are told to do this by telling the story of Passover at the seder, regardless of how recently we watched “The Prince of Egypt” or how many seders we’ve already attended this year, so that we internalize the story as our own, feeling what it means to be a slave and then free to ensure that this message remains a part of us, our children and children’s children.
But in addition to telling the story of Exodus from so long ago, our collective obligation extends to telling and listening to the stories of our day, of men, women and children still yearning and fighting to be free. As such, at this seder, we will incorporate our generation’s stories of Exodus.
The Haggadah’s text, drenched with meaning and *grape juice* stains, lends itself as a powerful call to action. The only chance we have of tackling our world’s challenges, of creating meaningful change with the potential to ripple beyond this group or this campus, is to join with our partners and get to work as a united front. The Jewish and Latino communities, two immigrant communities, each with its own unique history, tradition and causes, are two communities so worthy of one another. Regardless of the issue, whether it be tackling immigration reform, changing our education system or fighting racism or bigotry on our campus, if we do so together, our collective force is unstoppable. But to reach this point, let’s start with breaking matzah, appreciating each other and where we came from.
The Passover seder ends with the cry, “l’shanah haba’ah b’yerushalayim,” which translates to “Next Year in Jerusalem.” In its most literal interpretation, it’s a call for the coming of the messiah, invoking the dream of generations of Jews to once again be reunited in our holy city. But it is also a call for better times, that next year we will all be free, that we will no longer have to dip the bitter herbs into salt water as a reminder of our tears, but live in a world where basic humanity and dignity is awarded to all. Together we can work to realize this dream.
Next year may we all be free.
- Ethan and Tracy
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