This interview is being shared as part of #SupportforRefugees, Repair the World’s campaign focusing on the global refugee crisis. All across the country this Passover, people found ways to share refugees’ stories during their seders and to talk about the issues they face. Using resources from Repair the World’s Turn the Tables project, and nourishment support from OneTable, they were able to add additional meaning and spark important conversations at their tables. Here, Portland, Oregon resident Debbie Frank talks about her experience hosting a Turn the Table seder for more than 50 people in conjunction with the Meetup group PDX MOTs!
1. What inspired you to host a refugee-focused seder and dinner?
Over the years, the Passover seder has become my favorite Jewish holiday experience. My family in Alabama always uses the same traditional Haggadah, which I still very much cherish. But, it wasn’t until I moved to Portland a few years ago that I experienced my first Seder at a friend’s house with a Haggadah that was completely custom for the kids. Since this year was my first time to tackle putting on a seder myself (for 54 adults no less), I wanted to honor tradition while melding in something unexpected.
2. How did you weave in refugee issues into the seder?
Using Repair the World’s Turn the Tables resources to focus on the current refugee crisis allowed me to add another layer of meaningfulness to the seder. While I think everyone sees the headlines about refugees, it isn’t something we perhaps take time to truly personalize and consider within the context of the history of our people. At least I will admit I never fully did. Doing so within our Passover Seder made the connection so crystal clear.
Among other activities including weaving the theme into our Haggadah text, we collected shoes to donate. After all, our people stood in the same shoes of the refugees today time and time again through history. The symbolism was powerful. Right after our Seder ended, a lot of folks expressed interest in doing more within our local community to welcome refugees In Portland. The impact was clear.
Find out more about how you can host a Turn the Tables dinner with Repair the World.