The Jewish festival of Passover begins next week. During Passover there is a tradition called the Seder (“order”) Meal where the story of the Israelites being delivered from captivity in Egypt is retold. The overall story is the same, generally, for Seder Meals, but there are many different variations for the Haggadah, the Seder narrative.
Huffington Post recently published an article of “25 Alternative Haggadahs” , one of which was a narrative that focused on justice of immigrants.
In class and our walkthrough of Albanese’s book “America: Religions and Religion” we have looked at the combination of religion and immigration and how the two affect each other. We have discussed a good bit of how immigration has affected religion in America. Because different peoples have come to America different religions have been introduced. Freedom of religion is no longer just a nice way to say we can tolerate all Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, but now religions with different gods and sacred texts are involved. It became a practice instead of simply an idea.
One thing we have not focused on as much, though, is how religion has affected immigration. One of the 25 unique Haggadahs mentioned in the Huffington Post article is one named “Immigrant Roots, Immigrant Rights.” This Seder narrative, written by Jews United for Justice (JUFJ) located in Washington D.C., walks through the story of Passover and the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, but there are additional readings. These additions range from personal stories of immigrants’ struggles for justice after coming to America, information about laws and bills written for rights of immigrants, and ties between the Passover story itself with modern day injustice and oppression.
This Haggadah calls for the Jewish people to recognize that they were once foreigners with no rights and challenges the community to stand up for immigrants of all kinds. At the end of the packet, there is a page full of campaigns and projects led by the JUFJ in order to help aid immigrants in its community.
Like I said before, in class we have looked a lot at how immigration has influenced religion, and now it’s neat to see how religion can influence immigration.