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 and materials from Repair the World’s Turn the Tables project, they were able to add additional meaning and spark important conversations at their tables. Here, Kansas City resident, Malinda Kimmel, talks about her experience hosting a Turn the Tables seder for friends and family from a wide range of political backgrounds.
What inspired you to host a refugee-focused Passover seder?
For me and my family, this seder made sense. Refugee issues are something we are passionate about, and Pesach is a story of leaving one country for another to come to freedom and safety. Also, three of our seder participants work at JVS Kansas City, an organization that works to resettle new refugees into our community. The seder allowed us to share with others the importance of refugee resettlement in our community.
How did you weave refugee issues into the seder?
We began our seder with the Turn the Tables guided discussion. We made sure all guests understood our seder was to be a safe space for open discussion and respectful conversation. Our guests really jumped in and opened up, allowing us to talk about the connection between Jews in Egypt and others now who flee their countries for freedom and safety.
Can you share a story from the seder that demonstrates the experience?
We had people from varying political beliefs at our table, and this allowed for fruitful conversation. The first question that truly started the conversation was my mother asking about vetting procedures and her “fear” of who comes into the United States. The question offered an opportunity for some people to share their fears, and for others to respond. I was impressed by the passionate responses of others to help educate everyone at the table and bring it back to a need for basic freedom and humanity.
You had kids at your seder too, right? How did they get involved?
We had five young kids at our seder. Repair the World guided us to some wonderful books that were age-appropriate to read with our kids, and which shared the refugee journeys of children their age.
What surprised you the most about the evening and conversation?
I was pleasantly surprised by how engaged and respectful people were. We had people from opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I worried that our discussion might be fueled by anger. But we had a wonderful conversation. Having an expert in the field of refugee resettlement allowed facts to be shared. It was great to see the passionate response from friends that I don’t normally hear from on refugee issues.
How did Repair the World help support your seder?
Repair the World was wonderful. It was nice to have the guided discussion resources, and the staff was so responsive as I prepared. I thought the host guide was great, and although we didn’t get to the activities, it was useful to have the discussion prompts. This was a great addition for our Passover experience, and I look forward to making this part of our 2nd night seder tradition.
Find out more about how you can host a Turn the Tables dinner with Repair the World.