January 18, 2020

Fighting Antisemitism, One Seder at a Time

“A new initiative called 2 for Seder has a catchy slogan: “Pushing back on anti-Semitism with love and matzah.” The premise: Invite two people who’ve never been to a Seder—non-Jews in particular—to come to yours, “with the intent of building bridges and creating understanding about our Jewish values,” in the words of its creator, Marnie Fienberg.

Our texts and tradition are passionate about welcoming the stranger. “You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” Leviticus says. “Do not oppress the stranger or the poor, and do not plot evil against each other in your hearts,” Zechariah says. The Seder itself is a performative storytelling event about the experience of being the Other, during which we open our door for Elijah to express the hope of ushering in a messianic age of kindness, peace, and refuge. One way to pitch in on the creation of such a world is by not being strangers to each other.

Fienberg came up with the idea for 2 for Seder while in mourning for her mother-in-law Joyce, who was murdered at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue this past October. “It was still during shloshim [the first 30 days of mourning] that I realized I’d put on 12 Passovers but had never done it without Joyce,” she told me in an interview. “Joyce was very detail-oriented about Passover. She’d check in with me in December or January and she’d start with the guest list—in theory my house should only fit around 20 people, but we usually had 25 or 30—and she’d say, ‘I’ll be making this many matzo balls, half whole wheat and half regular.’ My father-in-law had celiac and for a while she did a gluten-free matzo ball, which is a disgrace, and she gave up and did noodles, and thank God. Go that way if you’re gluten-free.” Fienberg still has the last batch of her mother-in-law’s matzo balls—made for Rosh Hashanah—in her freezer.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"U.S. President Donald Trump thinks he’s suffered more injustice than the alleged witches of Salem, but it could be worse. Pakistan’s former president Pervez Musharaff faced possible impeachment in 2008, leading to his resignation. In the end..."

"The 2000s felt like a decade of looking forward. Wi-Fi went mainstream, phones got smarter, social media connected us, digital tools let us rely less on physical ones. But the 2010s brought a shift. There was still tons of new technology, but..."

"While some women experience pregnancy and childbirth as joyful, natural and fulfilling, others find themselves recoiling in horror at the physical demands of carrying and sustaining a child in their womb, and even more so at the potential..."

"A few months ago, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo bemoaned the death of the Manhattan power lunch. Gone were the long, decadent afternoons filled with networking and Negronis: “Suit-and-tie-wearing machers in media and Wall Street gave way to..."

"Economic inequality has moved to the top of the political agenda in many countries, including free-market poster children like the US and the UK. The issue is mobilizing the left and causing headaches on the right, where wealth has long been..."

"If you’re not familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats — or even if you are — then you probably have many, many questions going into the film adaptation this weekend, especially if you’ve witnessed the widespread bafflement the trailer..."

"Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest.."

"Peter Thiel is Big Tech’s most prominent Trump supporter. He is an unabashed enemy of the free press, having covertly funded a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker three years ago. He has become one of the most vocal pro-monopoly advocates, taking a..."