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Making a Seder with Soul

This year I am seeding the seats of my Pesach Seder with coffee-colored Jewish people, a few ecru-hued Jewish people, a couple not Jewish coffee-colored people, and some blended coffee and ecru Jewish people. Michael is Jewish and African American although his wife and kids are African American but not Jewish. I’ll invite Carole and her family. Carole is Haitian, her husband is ecru Jewish and their kids are wavy-haired Jewish. Yasmin and Sam have an open invitation. She covers British and Caribbean Jewry. Sam covers “transplanted from Brooklyn to New Jersey” Jewry. Their three kids are two plain coffee Jews, and one blended coffee and ecru yeshiva student.

The Seder plate will look the same as Seder plates everywhere: eggs, karpas, lamb shank, etc. Gefilte fish will be served with dinner because ecru Jews love it, but my main fish dish will be a Cajun courtboullion (poached trout in a tomato based sauce with green pepper and onions that tastes great with hot sauce). I will make curry chicken using a recipe I clipped from Essence Magazine. Candied yams, collard greens and rice with roux gravy will round out the side dishes. For dessert my daughter, Eliane, and I will make sweet potato pies (with matzo pie crust), and I will pop open a can of Manischewitz coconut macaroons.

A few personal touches will make this Seder more “Afrocentric.” Instead of ending prayers with a simple “amen,” “Can I get an amen?” will achieve that ‘churchy’ feel some of us miss a little bit. And when we speak of enemies who have oppressed Israel, I can add, “and” my brother and sisters of the African Diaspora whose enemies include: Arab trans- Saharan slave traders, Ferdinand and Isabella, Christopher Columbus, British colonialists, the French, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis and Woodrow Wilson.”

While thanking God for freeing Israel from Pharaoh, I will also mention Toussaint L’Ouverture, Nat Turner, Mary Church Terrell, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. for possessing the spirit of Moses in the freedom struggle. The Negro National anthem Lift Every Voice and Sing, and songs from the Civil Rights movement: Down By the RiversideWe Shall Overcome and We Shall Not Be Moved will end this soulful Seder.

My traditions will not be familiar to most Jewish people because I have other cultures to bring to the table, and, under my roof, all of them are integrated.