A diverse group of over 350 Tarrant County religious, political, civic and community leaders gathered for the B’nai B’rith Community Seder Tuesday, April 9.
The second annual lunchtime Seder, the largest ever held in Tarrant County, was presented by the Fort Worth-based B’nai B’rith Lodge to strengthen relationships with the Jewish community and non-Jewish Tarrant County friends and neighbors.
B’nai B’rith Lodge members, under the direction of Terri Hollander, prepared the meal. The organization underwrote the entire cost of the free Seder and provided Haggadahs and kippahs for all attendees.
According to B’nai B’rith Lodge President Rich Hollander, “The event gave a glimpse of Jewish tradition to the rest of Tarrant County. The more knowledge we have of each other’s traditions and practices, the more open we will be to each other’s communities.”
The Seder, held this year at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, was led by Rabbi Andrew Bloom. Talya Galaganov sang the traditional Seder songs.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price welcomed the overflow crowd and spoke about the importance of unity and freedom of religion.
Ahavath Sholom President Jerry Stein greeted the attendees and read a passage entitled “From Slavery to Freedom.”
Community leaders read Passover passages from the Haggadah.
Jim Lacamp, a local business leader, read an explanation of the Four Questions and Jaime Hernandez of CUFI (Christians United for Israel) read the traditional Four Questions in Spanish.
One of the highlights of the seder was the singing of the Four Questions by young students from the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center.
Rabbi Bloom connected the Passover story to this year’s theme of modern-day homelessness and slavery in Tarrant County.
Bruce Frankel, executive director of DRC, a Fort Worth organization that works to end homelessness, spoke about homelessness in Tarrant County. And Stephanie Byrd, executive director of Unbound Fort Worth, spoke about human trafficking in Tarrant County.
Fort Worth Mayor pro tem and City Council District 7 member Dick Shingleton read the moving poem by German pastor Martin Neimoller, “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Matt Brockman, from the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, read a special cowboy prayer for the event.
B’nai B’rith included the Jewish Family Service’s Senior Program, as well as residents of B’nai B’rith Housing and local Jewish seniors. More than 90 seniors attended.
B’nai B’rith, the oldest Jewish organization in Tarrant County, is already making plans to present a City Seder again next year.