This year (2019/5779) the Australian Jewish Democratic Society hosted a community Pesach Seder outside the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The Pesach Seder for Freedom was a protest against Australia’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
We brought our Seder table to the offices responsible for the administration of Australia’s cruel offshore detention centres, which currently house 915 people across Manus Island and Nauru (Senate estimates 26 March 2019).
Together we gathered around the Seder table to read our specially compiled liberation Haggadah. We ate Matzah, drank our four cups of wine/grape juice and sang the Pesach songs (in a rather off-key fashion). We dipped our karpas into salt water to symbolise the tears of our ancestors, and in solidarity with the pain and tears of those currently in Australia’s detention centres.
Our Seder plate of course contained the usual objects, however also had the addition of the key, in support of the Palestinian right of return and recognition of Palestinian refugees. And the gumleaf, in recognition of the first people of Australia, of colonisation and the ongoing struggle of Aboriginal people here and across the world.
Pesach is a time of celebration and commemoration of our own freedom from slavery in Egypt. However, with freedom comes responsibility, and so as we remember our story of freedom we must fight for those who are not yet free. As Jews we know only too well the trauma of fleeing persecution and genocide. We know the sorrows of escaping only to be turned away from safe shores. And so we commit ourselves to fight against nationalism and colonial borders, and for justice and freedom for all.
Where to from here
At our Seder we also raised money for Sale4Justice, a flotilla for justice sailing from Australia to Manus Island. This direct action set sail in early May and aims to draw attention to plight of refugees imprisoned on Manus Island. You can find out more information about the flotilla and donate here.
You can see our Facebook livestream of the Seder for Freedom here.
You can read our Liberation Haggadah here.
This event took place on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We recognise that their sovereignty has never been ceded.