By Jody Platt
Faculty from Paul Quinn and Planning committee
from Temple Emanu-El for the Passover
Seder at Paul Quinn College
History was made at Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, Texas last year. A multi-cultural, original Passover seder was co-created and co-enacted by Paul Quinn College students and the Young Adults from Temple Emanu-El. The tradition was continued this year for an historic seder at Paul Quinn College. The students, faculty members and President Michael Sorrell welcomed Temple Young Adults to Paul Quinn campus. They were joined by Rabbi Asher Knight , Cantor Leslie Niren and Melissa Duchin (Director of Young Adult, Outreach and Interfaith Programming at Emanu-El) for an imaginative Passover Seder. Collaboration between the two groups turned into a wonderful, shared learning experience for all who attended.
This unique joint seder evolved from a lecture series 2 years ago at Paul Quinn College. I was fortunate enough to introduce Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen to President Michael Sorrell and the students at Paul Quinn College, when Rabbi Herzog Cohen agreed to deliver a lecture to the student body about the relationship between the Black and Jewish community in America. “Rabbi Kim,” as we affectionately call her, conveyed the message of our duty to uphold justice and freedom for all people. The lecture was well attended by Paul Quinn students and questions following Rabbi Kim’s well received lecture were thoughtful and honest. One student, Francis Webb, concluded with a question. “So when are we going to have a joint seder with Paul Quinn students and Temple Emanu-El members?” A result of this question and many months of planning and participation from Quinnites and Temple Emanu-El members, was the collaborative effort of a traditional Passover seder, with new creative elements to share both Black and Jewish cultures.
Again this year, Paul Quinn students, faculty and Temple Emanu-El participants read and sang their original multi-cultural Passover seder together as brothers and sisters. With open minds, open spirits, open discussion and joint enthusiasm, all in attendance enjoyed this unique telling of the Passover story of slavery to freedom. The title of their co-authored seder was “Crossing Waters: An Original Seder. ” Traditional Jewish symbols and foods, such as matzah (unleavened bread symbolizing the haste in which Jewish slaves left Egypt) were served. These were combined with special foods, such as hot-water cornbread, which is made quickly like its “sister bread” matzah. Indeed, new horizons, new stories, new meanings and new friendships were created.
Traditionally, at a Jewish seder, the last line at the end of the Passover service is “Next year in Jerusalem.” At this unique seder, the last line was, “Next year, for our third year together, at Temple Emanu-El.” These two remarkable groups are already planning on next year’s seder, when Paul Quinn students join Temple Emanu-El Young Adults on location back at Emanu-El. Valuable learning experiences ON and OFF campus resulted from this multicultural Passover seder. What a wonderful coalition these two groups have formed!