Liberation Seder: Four Cups of Freedom


Thursday, April 5, 2018 (All day)


52 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Passover is an invitation to celebrate our freedom and honor our community's struggle for liberation. Pesach also reminds us that celebrating freedoms won means mourning freedoms lost, bearing witness to freedoms yet denied, and asking difficult questions about our complicity in others’ unfreedom. It is a moment in which we recognize that none of us are free until all of us are. Join us for PJA's Liberation Seder, in which we will consider what the Passover story can teach us about freedom and justice, and how it can inspire us to support ongoing struggles for freedom today – including fights for racial and economic justice, and the movement against the continuing occupation by Israel of territories held since the war of 1967 and toward peace, freedom, and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians. Our haggadah will include perspectives from a range of groups fighting for freedom and dignity, including refugees and dreamers, Black Lives Matter activists, and Palestinians. Too often, our campuses are polarized around the questions "Are you pro- or anti-Israel? Are you pro- or anti-Palestine?" Inspired by IfNotNow, the national movement of young Jews aiming to lead our community in ending support for the occupation, we instead ask: Are you for endless occupation or for freedom and dignity for all? We seek to transform our community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians, believing until we are all free, none of us are free. Pluralism Project Summary: On Thursday, April 5, 2018, Harvard Hillel hosted a Liberation Seder. (A seder is the traditional ritual meal of the Jewish holiday of Passover.)  The Liberation Seder served to oppose Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which has been contested since 1967. The seder was coordinated by Harvard’s chapter of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.The leaders sought to highlight the Palestinian victims of occupation as a way to advocate for the liberation of all peoples. The haggadah (traditional ritual book used at seders) was compiled from a variety of sources, and included stories of Palestinian refugees and activists, considerations for the LGBTQA+ community, and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Meanwhile, more traditional elements of the seder, such as the asking of the Four Questions, the resuscitation of the Exodus narrative, and the hiding of the afikomen were all included as well. Because Hillel International has specific rules for events within its spaces regarding speech that concerns Israel, the student organizers had to be particularly mindful as they planned the seder and paid close attention to all details, from the readings selected for the haggadah to the language advertising the event. Furthermore, while the students and organizers were inspired by the IfNotNow movement, which protests Israel’s occupation, they also wanted to be able to host the event at Harvard Hillel in order to reach a variety of Jewish students with differing views, as well as reach out to other groups who have traditionally not been given a voice within the organization. As such, Harvard Hillel was the only Hillel chapter in its international organization to host the Liberation Seder. The event was well-attended, and after a few opening remarks addressing the tension of such aseder, the night progressed relatively smoothly. As conversation extended longer than anticipated, many participants began to trickle out of the room after dinner. The remaining students then gathered together in a circle in the middle of the room as they shared the final words, songs, and prayers to mark the end the seder. This summary was written by a Pluralism Project staff member who attended the event.