In Freedom Seder, Jews And African-Americans Built A Tradition Together

Passover seder (April Killingsworth/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)
Passover seder (April Killingsworth/Flickr/CC BY 2.0)

Deena Prichep, NPR

WASHINGTON (—Friday night marked the start of Passover, when Jews around the world tell the story of Exodus. That story, with its radical message of freedom, has resonated with African-Americans since the days of slavery.

More than 40 years ago, these two communities wove their stories together for a new Passover ritual — the Freedom Seder.

The story dates back to April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. A week later, as the U.S. military occupied Washington, D.C., the sun set on the first night of Passover. For Arthur Waskow, who was working in the peace and civil rights movements back then, the day brought a revelation.

“I walked home, to get ready for the Seder, and that meant walking past the army, with a machine gun pointed at the block I lived on,” he says. “And my kishkes, my guts, began to say, this is Pharoah’s army!”




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