Freedom, Social Justice and Passover at Hillel



April 27, 2016

Every year at Sedarim (Passover dinners) around the world, Jewish people list the ten plagues inflicted upon Egypt as Moses tried to gain freedom for the Israelites: blood, lice, hail and other horribles.

Mizzou Hillel, however, updates its Seder’s plagues annually to reflect social injustices in their campus community and around the world. This year’s plagues ranged from racism on the University of Missouri campus, to the lack of rights appointed to prison workers, to the Syrian refugee crisis.

By updating their Seder each year, Mizzou Hillel is able to partner with numerous social justice-oriented organizations on campus and draw more than 100 students to the event. This year’s Haggadah (Passover prayer book) refreshed the four children of Passover to echo four types of privileged students: the incredulous one, the ignorant one, the innocent one and the informed one.

Mizzou isn’t the only Hillel campus with an updated Seder, though.

Hillel at Washington University opened its doors this Passover to the larger campus community for “Abraham’s Tent: A Seder of Inclusion and Dialogue,” a Seder inspired by Abraham, whose tent was open on all sides to welcome guests.

By coming together with campus faculty and administration, assorted student organizations and the interfaith campus ministry, Hillel at Washington University empowered students of all backgrounds to lead conversations about creating spaces for inclusion and welcoming dialogue on the Washington University campus.

Similarly, Penn State Hillel invited its students to develop an LGBTQ Seder to further foster its relationship with the Penn State LGBTQ community. As one of its five Sedarim, Penn State Hillel’s LGBTQ Seder included discussion of current events surrounding injustice for LGBTQ people in Mississippi and North Carolina, aiming to “bring light to a community shackled by institutional discrimination,” said Rob France, Penn State Hillel assistant director.

“It’s a critical piece of the Hillel mission to incorporate ‘right now’ into our Seder,” France added.

Earlier this Passover season, Hillel International teamed up with It’s On Us, a White House initiative to end sexual assault on campus by promoting bystander intervention, to release a Passover resource adding a new question to our Sedarim: “How do we free one another?”