“Breaking bread together is a tried-and-true way for people from different cultures to connect with one another,” said Rabbi Elana Zelony, from Congregation Beth Torah. “When the bread is matzah, a symbol of both affliction and redemption, it creates an opportunity for us to share our people’s stories of suffering and freedom.”
Following the model of a traditional Jewish Passover Seder, the Annual Interfaith Seder draws comparisons between Passover stories and challenges that we face in present times, by exploring a social action theme or value that resonates across numerous faiths. Aligned with the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, which means “to repair the world,” the program promotes a culture of support and friendship between people of all backgrounds, and inspiring positive change in our community. The JCRC invites local faith and civic leaders to read parts of the Haggadah, the text read to retell the Jewish story of Passover, reflecting the interactive and communal nature of a Jewish Passover Seder and highlighting the diversity of the Dallas area. The JCRC Interfaith Seder Haggadah is written to include information and stories about our world and community, offering text that people of all backgrounds can identify with.
“I’m looking forward to sharing in the interfaith Seder for many reasons. First, I have a strong appreciation for the justice partnership that has characterized the best of the Black and Jewish historical relationship. Both communities have been othered and oppressed and have fought as allies for freedom,” said Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist
Church. “Secondly, in a climate characterized by division and limiting silos, we have an opportunity to learn from each other and model the dynamism in diversity and difference.”
The program brings community leaders and members of diverse faiths and backgrounds together to recognize challenges in the greater community, acknowledge shared humanity, and inspire hope and action toward creating a better community for all.
Since 2016, the Annual Interfaith Seder has been co-led by Jewish and non-Jewish local clergy. In 2019, attendance at the 7th Annual JCRC Interfaith Seder was 580, and at the 8th Annual Interfaith Seder in 2022 (the first since the COVID-19 pandemic), attendance was 400. Past themes of the JCRC Interfaith Seder include Freedom Seder: Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act; Confronting Poverty; Welcoming the Stranger; Uniting our community; Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Building Community Together; and Sharing Universal Values.