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April 05, 2012 - Image 50

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-04-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

APRIL 24 • APRIL 26 • MAY 6


IN' El<

Take Part.Take Pride.

Make room on your seder plate for a tomato, recalling the modern-day slavery
of farm laborers.

New For Seder Plate

Tomato symbolizes modern-day 'slavery.'

Steve Lipman

New York Jewish Week

Itiesday, April 24

Memorial Ceremony

7:00 p.m.

(No charge)

A Day to Remember
Fallen Soldiers

The Berman Center for the
Performing Arts
6600 w. Maple Road

West Bloomfield

For information,
contact Gina at 248-642-1643


Thursday, April 26

Israel Independence Day

5:00 p.m. - Doors Open

6:00 p.m. - Concert


7:45 p.m. - Dinner

For information, contact
Jeff at 248-386-1625, ext. 228

Akiva Hebrew Day School

Fee for program


Sunday, May 6

Come Celebrate Israel!

10 am. - Program

12 Noon

Kosher Lunch (No chaige)

For information,
contact Andre at

1:00 p.m. - Walk begins

Temple Shir Shalom

50 April 5 • 2012


he pre-Passover shopping list
of Rabbi Paula Marcus is grow-
ing this year.
A pulpit rabbi in California, she will
buy the standard items this week: some
kosher food, some boxes of matzah,
some bottles of wine. And one non-
standard item: a tomato.
The tomato is for her seder plate, not
for a recipe.
A member of Rabbis for Human
Rights-North America, an interdenomi-
national, Israeli-based organization that
numbers modern-day slavery among
its educational and advocacy issues,
Marcus will put the tomato in the
center of her seder plate — alongside
the traditional bitter herbs, charoset,
parsley, shank bone and eggs, and
an orange, a recent addition in many
homes — as a symbol of contemporary
Moved by the two visits to tomato-
growing country in Florida that delega-
tions of RHR rabbis conducted in the
last year, meeting with often-underpaid
and overworked tomato pickers, and
conducting "pray-ins" at supermarkets
that had not signed a Fair Food Act
that guarantees higher pay and better
working conditions, the rabbi decided
to put a tomato on her seder table as a
reminder of the workers' plight.
"It's just obvious to me:" she says.
"We imagine what it was like to be
slaves and celebrate our freedom:'
she wrote recently in San Francisco's
Jweekly newspaper. "But the truth is,
there are people in our own country
who don't have to imagine what it is like
to be a slave."
Over the last few years, the issues
of actual slavery (estimates of people
working today as slaves in the world
today range between 12 and 27 mil-
lion) and workers' rights (many, like the
tomato pickers in Florida, are said to
work in near-slavery conditions) have
achieved greater visibility in parts of

the Jewish community. Especially at
Passover, the holiday that commemo-
rates the ancient Hebrews' freedom
from slavery. Individual seder leaders,
and organizations like RHR (which
produces an "anti-slavery" Haggadah
supplement and table cards that con-
tain stories of modern-day slavery),
Boston's Workmen's Circle branch and
Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West
Newton, Mass., have incorporated
reminders of farm workers' rights into
their seder readings.
This year the tomato — along
with words of accompanying text —
becomes the latest symbolic food offi-
cially added to some seder tables.
RHR and the Coalition of Immokalee
Workers (the central labor repre-
sentative of agricultural workers "in
low-wage jobs" in Florida) this week
announced that they are urging Jewish
homes to put a tomato on their seder
"The foods on the seder plate are
meant to elicit questions that lead to
the telling of the story of the Exodus:'
according to a RHRJCIW statement.
"We hope the tomato will lead to ques-
tions about the legacy of slavery today
and to discussion about the progress
being made by the CIW — supported
by Jewish communities — to bring
about a just, slavery-free workplace."
During a holiday that fosters both
memory and creativity (think of the
new tradition of the Miriam's Cup,
which celebrates women's role in deliv-
erance), the seder plate, whose rituals
were established at least a millennium
ago, has increasingly become that pal-
ette on which Jews express their social,
political and theological concerns.
Symbolic items that have found their
way onto the seder plate over the years:
• Potato peelings or beets to com-
memorate Jews who starved during the
• A fourth matzah for Soviet Jews
who were not free to practice Judaism.
• A roasted potato or a boiled beet, in
place of a shank bone, for vegetarians

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