A social justice Passover in Washington
04/22/2011 - 09:35
James Besser

Passover being a holiday marking affliction and freedom, it wouldn't be complete without Washington seders focusing on economic and social justice issues.

On Wednesday, the Jewish Funds for Justice and the Progressive Jewish Alliance will hold a “Food and Social Justice Seder” at the Department of Agriculture in downtown Washington, hosted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

With the holiday's emphasis on food, this will be the perfect opportunity to focus “on the place where food and justice intersect” and “explore hunger and food access, labor conditions for food workers, sustainable production and consumption and individual and communal responsibilities,” according to a statement by planners.

Officiating will be Rabbi Jack Moline, leader of a Conservative congregation in suburban Alexandria, VA. and director of public policy for the Rabbinical Assembly, and Rabbi Dara Frimmer of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) conducted a Washington version of its “National Hunger Seder – more than 40 events in 22 states focusing on the growing problem of hunger in the United States – last week.

Led by Rabbi Steve Gutow, the JCPA CEO, the seder used a special Haggadah “written to raise awareness of hunger and keep it a continued policy priority,” according to a statement by the group.

Also held at the Department of Agriculture, the event was attended by Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI), and several White House officials.

Also on the Passover agenda: President Barack Obama and family held their third seder for White House staff, family and friends. Using the Maxwell House Haggadah, the event was “kosher style,” with some of the recipes provide by Jewish White House staffers.

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I hear the the words 'social justice' used quite often, but I am unsure of what it actually means. Does anyone in the US believe in social 'injustice'? And if such deviants are to be found, who are they, and why haven't they been stopped by the legal authorities?
And, since this is Passover, I know that the story begins with a historical/religious fact: once we were slaves in Egypt. From that ancient beginning, I can understand why Jews are deeply concerned with justice. Jews hated their time as slaves and they can't stand idle while others are enslaved.
But the second half of the Passover story, (and the more important part) happens when G-d performs many miracles in order to prove He is G-d and to set his people free. I hope in this season all of the world's people move closer to true justice, and at the same time, no one forgets the role of G-d in making justice happen.

Pessah is our festival. We should not applaud the efforts of others to kidnap our holiday and use it for their agendas. Whether they claim to be Jewish or not.