The Passover holiday, which commemorates the Jewish escape from slavery in Egypt, is a time for members of Michigan’s Jewish community to not only look back to the past, but to look at the present as well.
“The Passover narrative reminds us not only to retell the story of the Exodus, but it’s also about reliving that experience,” Dana Benson, Rabbi at the Hillel Jewish Student Center, said.
Jewish people commemorate their exodus with Passover. The holiday lasts eight days, with the first two nights featuring special dinners accompanied by a ritual retelling of the story. The event is called a Seder in Hebrew.
Central to this holiday is the Seder plate, which sits near the center of the table, bearing items of metaphorical significance to the Passover story.
Throughout the years, some Jewish people have added new items to the Seder plate to commemorate new instances and types of struggle, Benson said. Some of these items include an orange for women and members of the LGBT community, a tomato for migrant farm workers and a banana for victims of the Syrian Civil War.
Additions to the Seder plate are part of keeping the holiday’s spirit of liberation relevant, she said, adding that the Passover narrative is also about “recognizing that each day someone is coming out of their own personal struggle.”
Benson, who identifies as a lesbian, recalled her own coming out.