Jews of Color discuss Passover

By Deborah Meyers Greene

In this oil painting on canvas in the Rubin Museum collection, Reuven Rubin (1893-1974) depicts a representative gathering of the new state. A Hasidic rabbi, Bukharan immigrants, kibbutznikim, Yemenites, a Palmach fighter, the artist and his family, and even Jesus attend the traditional meal of the Passover seder, a true reconciliation of groups and religions. To quote Carmela Rubin, the artist’s daughter-in-law and curator of the Rubin Museum: “The children and babies personify the promises of a new generation, and Rubin implies that with the birth of the Jewish state, a new page has been turned in world history.” (Image copyright the Rubin Museum, Tel Aviv)

Passover is a deeply resonant holiday for many Jewish People of Color. On Sunday, April 7, Ann Arbor-area JPOC and their families are invited to join a discussion on the topic.

The haggadah, the seder, and the songs of Pesach hold special meaning and promise for Jewish People of Color — be they descendants of America’s enslaved people; descendants of Japanese families that were incarcerated in the western U.S. during World War II; Native/Indigenous Jews whose ancestors were bludgeoned and, in some cases, obliterated by encroaching Europeans; or Latin Jews whose families escaped hardship or persecution in Cuba or South or Central America.

Bryan Roby, associate professor of Judaic Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at U-M, will provide expert direction as participants explore questions such as: How do Jewish People of Color express their histories in tandem with the traditional Passover story? How do their many and varied stories impact the celebration? How do JPOC incorporate their food traditions at the seder? Can the seder plate reflect the ancestors’ stories? Can the haggadah adapt to the rapidly increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the contemporary Jewish community? What, to the African-American Jew, is Passover? How might “slavery” in Egypt vs. the Western Hemisphere impact the discussion? The prayers? What resources are available to address these questions?

Everyone who self-identifies as Jewish and as a Person of Color, along with family members, is encouraged to participate in The Seder at the JPOC Table: A Facilitated Discussion on Sunday, April 7, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m., at the AADL Pittsfield branch, 2359 Oak Valley Dr, Ann Arbor 48103; plentiful free parking.

Questions? Write Deborah Greene at [email protected].

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