The focus was on the immigrant community, at the American Jewish Committee’s second annual Unity Seder at The Temple.
The four questions were read in 10 different languages by various consuls general, including those from Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and Germany. The crowd also heard stories from Syrian Habo Alo, and Venezuelan refugee Herla Isabel Alvarez.
The idea was to make the event relevant and take a compassionate stance on issues of oppression and injustice facing the American public, said The Temple’s Senior Rabbi Peter Berg.
“At this seder, in particular, we are hearing from the voices of immigrants,” Berg said. “This world is fractured, and people sometimes don’t spend the time talking to people different than them.”
The Unity Seder incorporates what was learned from its predecessor, the Black-Jewish Seder, Berg said. The AJC wanted to host a seder inclusive of the Atlanta community and invite a diverse group of people to the table.
The various voices helped form conversations when each table was presented with questions to ask each other about giving of themselves, trusting G-d on their journey, and taking a risk. The highlight, Berg said, was getting to know someone you didn’t know before.
“That’s what’s beautiful about our community: we come from all different parts of the world,” Rabbi Berg said.
The food was also a reflection of the diversity in Atlanta and featured cuisine from Latin American and Sephardic Jewish communities. After the reading of the haggadah, the Passover meal was served, which included yellow rice and black beans, dishes usually only eaten by Sephardic Jews during Passover, along with brisket and plantains.
The attendees of the Unity Seder weren’t just ethnically diverse, but religiously diverse, a component Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said was key. The Passover story has universal themes and Eaves said it’s important all of Atlanta was invited to join in the spring ritual because the attendees are a microcosm of the Atlanta community.
“The Unity Seder is an opportunity for people of all persuasions to reflect on Passover,” Eaves said. “The story has universal themes that are relevant to anyone, Jewish or not.”
The food was a part of the allure for Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, Israel’s consul general, who was excited that so many people from the Atlanta community chose to participate in the seder. Shorer noted that her friend Detlev Rünger, consul general of Germany, who had never attended the Unity Seder, was present, along with Takashi Shinozuka, consul general of Japan.
“It is very important the Atlanta community knows about Passover,” Shorer said. “It’s a very friendly and festive uniting. It’s important that Jews and Christians are together celebrating, because it’s uniting the community.”