by Haya Luftig
In many ways, Passover is the ultimate community relations holiday. In my years of serving as a professional in the field, I’ve organized or attended more community relations Seders than I can count. The first was a black-Jewish Seder held in the DC area. I can still feel the shivers from hearing the Gospel singer’s rendition of “Go down Moses.”
Like so much of the Jewish narrative, Passover is booth particular—the story of the Jewish people—and universal—the story of the human aspiration for freedom and dignity. Indeed, the message of Passover of rebelling against slavery and seeking freedom strikes a chord with nearly everyone, and makes for the perfect bridge building dialogue.
In some years, I’ve turned my own Passover table into a community relations Seder. One year I had, among others, Evangelical Christians and Shi’i Muslims. They got along great!
This year, I attended the JCRC of Miami’s Seder on Human Sex trafficking. In the room were leaders of the various ethnic and religious communities in Miami, and several government officials who work on the issue. Right here in the US., ttraffickers use violence, threats, deception, debt bondage, and other tactics to force people to engage in sex. It is a horrific form of slavery. Our, shall we say, “market”—and lack of resolve—contributes to the enslavement of thousands of people—mostly women and girls–each year. The Seder reminded us that the fight for freedom begins right here at home.
I’m proud that the JCPA and the wider Jewish community have played such a critical role in raising awareness and advocating for change.
May this year’s Passover be filled with meaning, both as Jews and human beings.