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Leaders working to make Passover Seder meaningful for everyone in Kansas City

KCTV | Chris Oberholtz and Savannah Rudicel

FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -- Increased vaccination rates will make it possible for some families to see grandparents on Easter or Passover, but many community gatherings are staying virtual.

Kansas City’s Jewish Community Relations Bureau/American Jewish Committee is hosting a Unity Seder for people of all faiths.

The virtual celebration will share readings, prayers, music and Jewish Passover Seder rituals.

One advantage of holding the Unity Seder over Zoom is getting to include more people than ever before. Community and faith leaders will talk with the public and elected officials about Passover and how it relates to the world we live in now. They’ll share culture with more than 230 people through songs, prayers and food.

While it may educate some people about the faith, Gavriela Geller, the Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau, says it’s about much more finding things everyone has in common.

“The themes that are central to the Seder are themes of liberation from oppression or fleeing the land that you've always known and hopes for a better life. And these are stories that resonate amongst so many different cultures and these values are shared amongst many different faiths,” Geller said.

Instead of discussing the common values in person, participants will enter virtual breakout rooms throughout the evening for small group dialogues about identity, family stories and hopes for the future.

Geller said the mark of a successful event is for every participant to walk away with a better understand of their neighbor, and be willing to create new connections and strengthen existing bonds.

“We have been through a lot as a society this past year and a lot of that has been incorporated into our Seder. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement. Our commitment to racial justice in this country has been incorporated into our Seder as it’s so relevant for the themes of liberation from oppression,” she said.

Many government and community leaders are set to take part in the Unity Seder.

“Our Founders endeavored to form “a more perfect union” that built on the Declaration that “all men are created equal.” We know that far too often in our history, we have failed to live up to those words. But we gather together knowing we shape our future. Committed to unifying principles, our nation’s diversity is its strength. Promoting equal opportunity for all should be a policy goal for all elected leaders, and promoting love of neighbor should be the personal goal of each one of us.” – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (KS)

“The Passover Seder is an opportunity to celebrate the precious gift of freedom, which every human being, created in the image of God, is meant to enjoy. I am encouraged how the groups gathered here use Seder and the meaning behind it to lead the community in understanding our shared values.” – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (MO)

Geller said the conversation should spur people into action and the event is just a first step towards a more equitable future.

“We’re coming together with this event to understand that while much progress has been made, we don't live in a world in which all people are truly free,” she said. “It really is about reaffirming that commitment to working together towards a world in which all are liberated.”