What we did for Palm Sunday/Freedom Seder

(Palm Sunday/Pesach at BP station: Pharaoh of Gulf disaster Plague (Sieradski)

In Philadelphia and New York, this past Palm Sunday (April 1, 2012), there were public demonstrations in which “our legs were praying”--and prayerful celebrations of Palm Sunday and an Interfaith Freedom Seder that were “subversive … overthrowing pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.” (Both quotes are from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.)

(For photos from  Philadelphia by Matheau Moore and from New York by Dan Sieradski, see the article just below or click here, with a guide to the photos and the text of the New Freedom Seder.)

In New York, Judson Memorial Church, Occupy Faith New York, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, Occupy Judaism, and Kolot Chayyinu congregation were instrumental in growing seeds sown by The Shalom Center into vibrant life.

Judson Memorial Church invited me to speak in their Palm Sunday service, on a passage from the Gospels: Luke 19:40.

Defenders of the status quo had been telling Rabbi Jesus to tell his followers to shut up. (It seems they had been urging people to “Occupy Jerusalem” and “Challenge the money-changers.”)

And the Gospel says: “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep silent, the very stones will cry out.”  

I commented that it would be easy to hear this as poetry and parable, but that in our generation, the stones are crying out.

The rivers cry out by flooding one-fifth of Pakistan and the City of New Orleans and by washing out the sturdy bridges of Vermont.

The rains cry out in silence, bringing unheard-of droughts to central Africa, Australia, Russia, Texas, Oklahoma.

The frozen stones we call glaciers are groaning as they melt. 

And all of them are calling on us not only to speak but to act.  To act against the money-changers, the corrupt banks and other corporations that were NOT created in the Image of God.

After the Palm Sunday service,  we marched to "Pyramids of Power" in the neighborhood:

  • a bank addicted to foreclosures,
  • a Federal detention center for immigrants,
  • a BP gas station,
  • the NYU student loan center where alumni become indentured servants to their mountainous debts. 

Then back to Judson, where I led the New Interfaith Freedom Seder.

In Philadelphia, the Freedom Seder was led by Rabbi Linda Holtzman of Mishkan Shalom synagogue, and Rabbi Mordechai Liebling of The Shalom Center ‘s Board took an important part in the celebration/ activism, especially in the vigil at the office of the pro-fracking Governor of Pennsylvania.

The Friends Center, the Interfaith Working Group/ Occupy Faith, Arch Street  Methodist Church, Mishkan Shalom, Philadelphia Socialists, New Sanctuary Movement, Jobs with Justice/ Philadelphia, Fight for Philly,  and Occupy the Dream were crucial in growing the same seeds from The Shalom Center into a similar reality.

Seeds are tiny, but they need earth and water and nurturing to grow. Your gifts toThe Shalom Center  provide what makes it possible for us to plant these seeds. Please click on the "Donate" line to the left, to help us keep seeding new ideas filled with life into the world.


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