The Religion Network
Editorial Page, continued
He said that the human fabric becomes “stronger, healthier and more beautiful” with the
inclusion of all races and religions, according to an article in the Arizona Jewish Post.
And so the first Tucson Freedom Seder included Muslims, Jews and Christians breaking bread
together. They were joined by a diverse list of community groups representing among others,
African-Americans, Mexican Americans and the University of Arizona. In all,
about 200 attendees took part in the evening.
Much of the program was traditional. Portions of the Passover story were read. But things took
a unique turn when the African spiritual ‘Go Down, Moses” was sung. A mariachi band later
Attendees say the event encouraged the building of trust. Participants were urged to sit at the
tables with people whom they did not know. Tucson City Council member and co-chair Nina
Trasoff then suggested that the table mates, “engage in conversations about what your barriers
have been,” in regards to other races and cultures.
Former Tucson Mayor, George Miller was one of the speakers. He is quoted in the Arizona
Jewish Post as saying that when he came to Tucson in 1939, the city basically was “a southern
town with legal segregation.” And at Tucson High School, “there were only a handful of Jewish
students. There was very little mingling back then.”
Minnie Andrews, who taught in Tucson for 30 years and now is an associate professor at
Northern Arizona University, related her own story of being the first black cashier hired in
Tucson. “The owners were Jewish,” she said. Even though the city was segregated, “They were
brave enough to hire a person of color.”
Obviously, Tucson has changed a lot over the years. What the Jewish community in Tucson has
achieved with the Freedom Seder is a grassroots catalyst for even more change. By integrating
the community into one of their sacred practices they have placed everyone’s human needs on
a par with their own. Their actions make a statement that many people have struggled under
oppression and that all deserve to be free.
In this day and age of every special interest group focusing exclusively on their own agenda, the
Freedom Seder is a refreshing change.
Miracles rarely happen over night…or because of one event. But it’s awfully difficult to dislike
someone with whom you’ve broken bread, or shared a moving experience. That's such a simple
concept. But what a powerful one. We applaud the Freedom Seder.