JBuzz News April 14, 2012: Tougaloo College: Freedom Seder combines traditions Overlap of Jewish, black histories is remembered




Seder combines traditions Overlap of Jewish, black histories is remembered.

Source: The Columbia Daily Tribune, AP, 4-14-12

Jewish Professor Ernst Borinski fled Nazi Germany in 1938, when discriminatory laws foreshadowed darker times to come. Borinski came to the American South of the Jim Crow era to work at historically black Tougaloo College in 1947, at a time when few universities would offer Jewish refugees employment. Soon, the school became his home and civil rights his cause.

On Thursday, Tougaloo College held a Passover Seder inspired by Borinski’s efforts to build bridges between Mississippi’s black and Jewish communities. Borinski is prominently featured in the exhibit “From Swastika to Jim Crow,” which is currently on display at the college. The film is based on a PBS documentary of the same title that profiled Jewish refugees who taught at black colleges during the Holocaust.

The seder traditionally celebrates the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt. Tougaloo’s “freedom seder” emphasized common themes in the histories of both communities and featured Southern black cuisine prepared according to kosher rules.

The first freedom seder was held in 1969 in the basement of a black church on the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

“Our focus was intertwining the stories of liberation from pharaoh and liberation from racism in America,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who wrote the Haggadah, a text that guides Passover rituals, for the first freedom seder and directs the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, Pa….READ MORE

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