Let my people go to this festive meal!
The Senior Citizens League of Flatbush puts on an interfaith seder every year for Passover — and holds it a few days before the actual holiday, so that the whole group has a chance to get together before some members go away for the real date, or are with their families.
And the gathering shows how this close-knit club is like a family in its own right, according to its executive director.
“A lot of people, their children have moved away, friends have passed on,” said Lenore Friedman. “This way they have a seder to go to. It feels like one big family.”
The Senior Citizens League of Flatbush started in 2000 at the East Midwood Jewish Center. The rationale behind it was that many elderly in the community had lost their spouses and friends, and needed a place to socialize, eat, play cards, and be part of a community, according to its website.
“It’s very active,” said Friedman of the center. “There’s everything from live music, to lectures, to yoga.”
This year’s interfaith seder was on March 18, around two weeks before Passover starts on March 30. The interfaith seder is one of the group’s community-centered events. Unlike the seder on the first day of Passover, this one is only about an hour long.
As in years past, on March 18 the attendees read out loud parts of the story of Passover, which tells of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Brisket, grape juice in lieu of wine, and other Jewish foods were served. And each table had a seder plate with objects of significance to the holiday, such as bitter herbs to remind people of the hardships of slavery. But there was also dancing.
Many of the attendees come from the local Jewish community, but seniors of other faiths attend too. The league’s leadership believes it is important to have an interfaith seder where people of all beliefs are welcome, because Passover’s message has universal appeal.
“Passover talks about the oppression of the Israelites, but it should be about all people,” said Friedman. “Everyone is equal.”