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Ask Four Questions on Racial Justice this Passover

Ask Four Questions on Racial Justice this Passover

One of my favorite parts of my family’s Passover seder (aside from the food) are all the questions that are asked throughout the night. I do not only mean those that are written in the haggadah – each year, friends and family ask their own questions about the story of how we obtained our freedom and what it means for us today. This makes each seder unique and challenges us to reinterpret this narrative in light of the challenges and opportunities facing our people and our society in this moment.

This year, Passover provides a compelling moment to discuss our shared pursuit of racial justice. As we reflect on how we overcame oppression, we cannot help but think of those who still do not have a share in the freedom so many of us enjoy because of systemic injustices that uniquely affect people of color. One way to have that conversation is by using the RAC’s Four Questions on Racial Justice guide. This guide challenges us to confront the following issues for us to consider as we work towards a society defined by racial equity:

  1. We eat matzah as a symbol of the urgency of redemption. The Israelites did not have time to wait for their bread to rise—the moment to act was upon them. What is the urgency in addressing the United States’ struggle with racial injustice?
  2. We eat maror to remember the bitterness of oppression. In our day, the U.S. criminal justice system has become broken, disproportionately impacting people of color. How can the taste of bitter herbs inspire action to repair this broken system?
  3. We dip twice to celebrate abundance. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we thought the ability to vote was finally abundant for all Americans. But when we look twice, we see that ability still being impeded. How are we called to act to guarantee access to this fundamental right for every citizen?
  4. We recline to experience the ease of privilege. For millennia, we adopted this pose on seder nights most often in contrast to Jews’ daily experience of oppression. In our own day, many Jews feel largely at ease because of their assimilation into white culture. As we recline tonight, what are the limitations and responsibilities of those of us who carry white privilege to end systemic racial injustice in our congregations, communities and country?

In the guide itself, you can see how faith leaders from diverse perspectives have offered answers to these questions and use their answers to frame a discussion with others at your seder table. Hopefully, this discussion will raise even more thoughtful questions and provide a foundation for shared action on these important issues.

Visit RAC.org/RacialJustice to learn more about our Movement’s work to fight structural racism and you can find other Passover seder inserts and haggadot at RAC.org/Passover.

Jacob Kraus is the campaign organizer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, leading the Reform Movement’s Urgency of Now campaigns for criminal justice reform and immigrant justice. Based at the Union for Reform Judaism offices in New York City, Jacob grew up in Cincinnati, OH, where his family is affiliated with Rockdale Temple. He is a 2015 graduate of Macalester College.

Jacob Kraus