Just before Jewish families will sit down to their Seders – which may have far fewer people around the table because of Coronavirus restrictions – Detroit faith leaders from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities invite the public into a Zoom room 7:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 8 for a pre-Seder celebration.
If you plan to attend, please sign in 10 minutes to the Zoom room by clicking here.
The Zoom event is sponsored by the Interfaith Leadership Council, the Detroit Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Congress (JCRC/AJC) and The Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity.
Moderators of the Zoom event include IFLC Chair Rev. Stancy Adams, Imam Achmat Salie, of the University of Detroit, David Conrad of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Bishop Glenn Plummer of Ambassadors for Christ Church, and Venkatesha Hollabbi from the Hindu Community of Canton.
The short program will include greetings from these leaders as well as texts, poems and some songs relating to the holiday that celebrates freedom, redemption and the coming of spring. Participants do not need to gather any additional texts or a Hagaddah before joining.
Adams said for Jews and African Americans, there are many lessons, comparisons, and contrasts to be gleaned from the telling of the Passover story at the height of this pandemic.
“There has always been a connection between African American and Jewish communities,” Adams said. “And now, as we learn to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are especially reminded of the plagues and the Exodus. At the time of Hebrew slavery, we learn in the Bible that it was the Egyptians and not the Hebrews who were embittered by the effects of the plagues. Now, we are all sequestered in our homes. Just like during the time of the Exodus, everyone was not affected. I believe everyone may experience the impact but not all will be infected by this current pandemic.”
AJC/JCRC Executive Director Rabbi Asher Lopatin said community faith leaders wanted to gather virtually across the religious, racial, and cultural spectrum to add words of support and wisdom from their religious traditions about the meaning of freedom.
“The Seder celebrates and discusses the Israelites redemption from Egypt,” Lopatin said. “As the Jews talk about freedom from slavery in Egypt, the African American experience of slavery and freedom resonates and continues to call for more connection and more understanding.”
Though right now, members of the black and Jewish communities cannot gather face to face to learn and connect as they had in live events from the recent past, Coalition co-director Mark Jacobs said the virtual event will continue to build on the coalition’s mission to create “more connection and understanding.”
“We are a partnership between the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC and the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity,” Jacobs said. “We see each other as brothers and sisters in the struggle against hate, and we are committed to promoting solidarity and speaking out against racism and anti-Semitism. Together we honor certain holidays, anniversaries and occasions, and Passover is one of them, as we come together to tell a common story of slavery to freedom and the responsibilities of us today to live up to the ideals for which our ancestors sacrificed so much.”
Timely Additional Resources:
Here are two texts that might be helpful this year to put the Seder and our Interfaith Seder in context:
Coronavirus Seder by Noam Zion
Coronavirus Supplement to the Haggadah