Interfaith Group Gathers at Passover Table in Chicago

April 22, 2005

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,4346021.story

On April 22, 2005 the Chicago Tribune reported, "inside the basement auditorium of a Chicago labor union headquarters, Jewish community leaders broke matzo at a model Passover seder in the unlikely company of Muslim lawyers, Latino workers and African-American supermarket employees. The invited Muslims sipped grape juice instead of the traditional red wine and shifted nervously in their seats. But by the end of the seder, the guests discovered a striking connection to the Jewish people... The eight-day holiday of Passover, which begins at sundown Saturday, has been celebrated by Jews worldwide for nearly 3,000 years and commemorates the Israelites' escape from slavery in Egypt. In recent years, the holiday's powerful symbols, rituals and prayers have been embraced and reinterpreted to connect with contemporary plagues and oppressions in groups including immigrants, drug addicts and homosexuals... After the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Jewish leaders focused on seders that united them with the African-American community, meshing text from the Haggada (the script for the seder) with the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. Now, more Jewish groups are using the Passover seder as a bridge for better relations with the nation's Muslims."