Anyone who’s ever been to a Seder knows the routine: celebrate and eat. And most people who have ever been to a Seder are also familiar with the Passover favorite, Dayenu--"it would have been enough." With this upbeat tune, we thank God for bringing us out of Egypt, granting us health and wealth, giving us the Torah, and more. We sing Dayenu over and over again, marveling at God’s incredible generosity and our luck as Jews.
At yesterday’s 11th annual Jewish Community Action Immigrant Freedom Seder, we celebrated, we ate, and we sang Dayenu. But, unlike most other Seders, we also used the occasion to reflect on the injustices still plaguing our community.
During the Seder, five thoughtful and inspiring community leaders shared their stories. Monica Vega of Mesa Latina discussed the need for greater immigrant rights, and, in particular, Drivers’ Licenses for All. Lillie Benowitz, a JCA youth leader, shared her reasons for supporting the freedom to marry, and her hope that her moms will marry before she does. And, representing OutFront Minnesota, Justin Anderson addressed Minnesota’s bullying epidemic and explained what the Safe Schools campaign is doing to stop it. Rose McGee, who has worked closely with JCA and the Northside Community Reinvestment Coalition for nearly a year, recounted her ongoing struggle to keep her home of twenty years, and the need for statewide foreclosure prevention legislation. And, finally, Sami Rahamim, a young leader in both the local and national gun violence prevention movements, discussed how losing his father to gun violence has led him to become an outspoken activist.
Following these compelling stories, Rabbi Amy Eilberg, who facilitated the Seder, said what we were all thinking: Dayenu. It is enough. Enough fear, discrimination, oppression, and violence.
At a traditional Seder, Dayenu is a vehicle for our blessings and thanks, but when we live in a world where our neighbors and allies are still fighting for their very basic rights, we cannot stop there. We simply cannot marvel at our blessings without calling attention to the injustice that remains.
As you prepare for Passover, we at Jewish Community Action ask you to add a new element to your Seder routine: celebrate, eat, and act. Incorporate a discussion of a JCA campaign into your family's Seder, write to your elected officials about the Passover message of freedom and how it relates to proposed legislation you now support, join us for this week’s legislative training with the National Council of Jewish Women, and help spread the JCA video message to Minnesotan legislators.
If we come together, and use our freedom to work with others, we will have even more to celebrate at next year's Seder.