Two Jew Girls on Passover, Privilege & Social Justice
From left (or top) - Lucy Gellman & Tagan Engel
Today’s show is a conversation about Passover, privilege, social justice and so much more. I’m joined on this joint episode by Lucy Gellman of The Kitchen Sync podcast and the Arts Paper of Greater New Haven. We’re two Jews of European descent talking about our complicated relationship to Judaism and the importance of telling the passover liberation story. We also dig into white privilege, the Jewish art of questioning everything, our commitment to transformational social justice and of course, food.
The holiday of passover commemorates the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt. Jews around the world gather together for a special meal and conduct the rituals of the Seder where we read the story of enslavement and freedom, eat symbolic foods, and as is our nature, ask many questions.
I invited Lucy to join me today because while we share so much in common through work and culture, we rarely make time to dig into our own stories, and this seemed like the right time to do just that. The significance of passover and focus on liberation from slavery easily dominates my psyche each year, taking over the space usually left to think about food, especially the holiday foods that I love. So, please forgive me the lack of food talk in this episode and check out this post if you are in need of some passover recipe inspiration.
In this episode, we talk about the importance of fighting against human rights abuses, slavery, and genocide in the world today. Check out these links to take action on things like ending mass incarceration in the USA, and supporting the liberation of Black and Latinx peoples on land through the work of Soul Fire Farm (I'm a supporter and board member, shamelessly promoting their work).
Lucy and I also discuss the complicated relationship we have with Israel and some of the terrible human rights abuses that happen there. Recently the Israeli government has been trying to deport migrants and refugees from Eritrea and Sudan, and forcibly injected Ethiopian Jewish Immigrants with birth control. 20 years ago, I visited Israel to meet some extended family, and I had the opportunity to visit the illegal Israeli occupied area of Ramalah. The things I learned in that visit and witnessed about the human rights abuses towards Palestinian peoples was profound. There is an emerging movement of young Jewish people called "If Not Now" who are fighting to end this occupation of Israel.
The Arts Paper that Lucy edits is a daily digital newspaper and a quarterly [monthly] print paper. Her approach to social justice and the importance of stories, have led her to create this NEW paper which massively broadens the definition of art to include the full racial, economic, and creative diversity of our region. By illuminating stories of people whose voices and art are often unseen by the broader community, Lucy is engaging in Tikun Olam, the Jewish social justice practice of repairing the world. Below, from left, Lucy Gellman and Tagan Engel.
Passover Seder Resources & Haggadah Additions
Passover: A Time For Reflections on Slavery and Racism
from Tagan's Kitchen April 2011
Check out Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
I came across this #BlackLivesMatter haggadah online, but haven't had a chance to read it yet. Take a look and let me know what you think!
Favorite Passover Recipes
During the holiday of Passover, Jews are not supposed to eat bread or anything that has risen, in remembrance of the Jewish people who were escaping slavery and had no time to let their bread rise. This also means that we can't eat any foods made of flour, other than matzo (like giant crackers). Check out this recipe post for some of my favorite passover desserts, such as this rich Sweet Potato Chocolate Cake, Iranian Almond Cardamom Cake, and the Best Coconut Macaroons ever. You'll also find the basics on matzo ball soup and chicken broth and a few delicious vegetarian dishes (for those of you that eat lentils and beans on passover).
This fabulous Afro-Seder episode from 2017..... A Black Liberation passover seder at Soul Fire Farm draws on the parallel stories of Moses and Harriet Tubman to honor the struggle for freedom. Hip Hop and wise words from Y-Love, a talented rapper who is Black, Latino, Jewish and Gay... and you should hear him spit in Yiddish. Also the Haitian" Liberation Soup Joumou" recipe.
"PASSOVER IS BOTH POLITICAL AND SPIRITUAL. HOLINESS IS ABOUT HAVING THE CAPACITY AND FREEDOM TO AFFECT THE WORLD AND MAKE A CHOICE TO USE OUR POWER FOR THE LIBERATION OF ALL PEOPLE."
-LEAH PENNIMAN, founder and co-director of soul fire farm