The Refugee Seder

Since 2009, ARDC has collaborated with partner organizations to produce a Refugee Seder project. The idea for the annual event was borne out of important parallels between the accounts of African refugees who had recently crossed the Egyptian border to seek asylum in Israel, and the story of the ancient Jewish exodus from the land of Egypt. Further, it was noted that the testimonies of African asylum seekers resonate with the modern Jewish narrative, whereby many European Jews found themselves displaced after World War II.

Currently, African refugees are located in several of the large population centres in Israel. However, within these cities, the refugee communities live in relative isolation from the Jewish Israeli residents due to cultural and language barriers. There is often little interaction between the refugees and the larger Israeli community.

The Refugee Seder seeks to create connections between Israelis and refugees by building on their shared experiences of persecution and freedom. We believe that highlighting this common narrative is an important tool for bridging the differences, and creating better understanding between the two communities. The 2010 and 2011 events were attended by over 300 people.

The event comprises an alternative seder which is led by both Jews and African refugees, communal and religious leaders. They focus not only on sharing the story of their community, but also on the need for a fair and just policy in relation to asylum seekers in Israel. A meal is served to all participants and is accompanied by live music performed by a collection of Israeli and refugee artists.

An alternative haggadah (found below) containing stories, songs, prayers and pictures has been created especially for the event and is used as a guide and educational resource.

Photos and an account of the 2011 event can be found here.