‘Judaism involves social justice’: Brooklyn families call for peace during Passover Seder

Children call for ceasefire in Gaza during a Passover 'Seder in the Streets' and Shabbat ceremony.
Children called for ceasefire in Gaza during a Passover “Seder in the Streets” on April 27.
Photo courtesy of Noah Levin

Youngsters joined social advocacy nonprofit Jews For Racial and Economic Justice in calling for a ceasefire in Gaza during a kid-friendly Passover “Seder in the Streets” and “Tot Shabbat” held Saturday, April 27.

The event aimed to bring children into conversations surrounding war, military occupations and ceasefires in a way they could understand, organizers told Brooklyn Paper. Activities included a Shabbat ceremony, singing, sign-making, learning supportive chants, and a seder meal.

woman holding child at passover seder
Moms, dads and other caregivers led the kid-friendly public display of advocacy. Photo by Noah Levin

In an effort to put action behind their words, organizers also led a march — with the children in tow — to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn home to demand he support a permanent ceasefire.

Rebecca Katz, a parent and JFREJ member who helped organize the seder, brought her children to the event because, though they are young, she said it’s never too early to introduce elements of community and solidarity to kids — especially as it relates to their faith.

“Doing action with kids means you need to be very intentional and thoughtful with every step,” she told Brooklyn Paper. “We put a lot of thought into what we’d do, how long everything would take, [and] making sure it’s engaging.”

Instead of excluding kids from the big conversations, both events — the seder and the shabbat — included applicable lessons for all ages.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, a New Jersey mom who attended with her family, said she brought her kids because of the significant advocacy for peace.

“It’s really important to my partner and I to teach our children that Judaism involves social justice,” St. Bernard-Jacobs said. “It involves taking stances that support safety for everybody.”

children holding ceasefire signs
Children sang, led chants, made signs and even marched to Senator Chuck Schumer’s Brooklyn apartment. Photo by Noah Levin

She said her nine-year-old son has since asked more questions on the conflict, and if there have been updates on a ceasefire.

“Just having him be around people who are also advocating for a ceasefire and not just speaking about it, but taking action,” she said. “It’s really important for us to model to our children what it looks like to be a part of a community.”

The event took place on Shabbat, the day of rest observed by the Jewish culture, which includes taking rest from creative work to pray, read the Torah and reflect. 

“I’m grateful to be in spaces that are family-friendly and kid-appropriate where we can still be aligned with our values around fighting for a free Palestine,” St. Bernard-Jacobs said.

Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the ancient Israelites’ exodus from Egyptian slavery. The seder begins with the youngest person at the table asking the four questions as to why their family is taking part in the tradition. In that same spirit, young attendees posed four questions to Schumer relating to the war.

Saturday’s public showing came after the Senate passed a $95 billion war aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

April 7 marked six months since the Hamas terror attack against Israel, which sparked an ongoing war that claimed has claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused widespread social conflict around the world.

More than 1,200 people were killed during the attacks on Oct. 7. That same day, Hamas kidnapped more than 250 Israelis and foreigners. Although many hostages have since been released, mostly women and children, Israeli officials report that over 130 people remain captive in the Gaza Strip, adding that only about 100 of them are still alive.

Meanwhile, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 70,000 have been wounded in Gaza since the start of the war, according to the Associated Press. The United Nations Children’s Fund, an agency devoted to providing humanitarian care to counties in need, reports roughly 13,000 children in Gaza have died since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack in Israel. Thousands more are suspected to have been injured and are suffering hunger.

Calls for a ceasefire have only gotten louder since the war began, sweeping across the city at various universities, political circles and public displays.

Additional reporting by Barbara Russo-Lennon

Correction (May 2, 4:45 p.m.): This story has been updated to strengthen the language in relation to the death toll in Gaza and provide proper photo attribution. Brooklyn Paper regrets the error.