When This Virginia Rabbi Announced That He Had Invited Refugees To Passover Seder, Tickets Ran Out

"Just to see the world expand for people is really powerful."

Passover is a time when the Jewish community reflects on those who had to flee to oppressive regimes and persecution. Rabbi Michael Knopf of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia believes that there are many parallels between the narrative and the experiences of refugees today.

And so, as reported by Upworthy, he has extended an invitation to Afghan refugees living in Richmond to join him for this year's Passover Seder.


The event will be an opportunity for people to share their stories, to make new friends, and hopefully create new opportunities.

As Temple Beth-El explained on its Facebook page:

"Temple Beth-El is partnering with Reestablish Richmond to host a Refugee Seder on the 2nd night of Passover. At this special community-wide event, we will be hosting approximately 30 locally-resettled refugees. The Seder will have traditional elements while connecting the ancient Passover story to the current refugee crisis, with contemporary readings and special guest speakers. All this and a delicious meal! There will be a short service beforehand at 6:00pm in the Main Sanctuary."

Tickets were so popular for the event that the temple ran out.

It is also the first time that a local faith community has organized a sit-down dinner for refugees, according to Kate Ayers, the executive director of ReEstablish Richmond, a Virginia refugee aid organization that is co-sponsoring the event.

Ayers told Upworthy that the group directly contacted some of the 400 refugees who settled in the area in 2016. She said, "The way that I was able to connect it the most was just to explain that this is a dinner that is a holiday for the Jewish community, and it's a holiday where they remember when they as a people had to escape for their life because of persecution, and they want to welcome you as someone who's experienced that same thing."

Many other Jewish communities are including refugees in their Seders, too. In 2016, the HIAS, a nonpartisan refugee protection group, had already created material about refugees that could be featured at Seders. Since then, things have grown and it is reported that many Passover activities will include ways to help refugees from inviting them to Seders to brainstorming ways to help protect and resettle them.

Cover image via Shutterstock / Daniel M. Silva.

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