Positive ripple after shootings with ‘2 for Seder’

We are now between Purim and Passover, and a new massacre of the religious at worship has captured our sorrowful attention, putting New Zealand on the same horrific map as Pittsburgh.
The Tree of Life shootings are already five months in the past, and our Jewish communities will help the recent Muslim victims to meet their sad needs, as so many Muslims helped our own. We will remember them, too. But as we continue remembering our own, is there something, anything, more that we can do now?
Yes! Here’s a simple suggestion that’s come from Pittsburgh, out of the deaths of its 11 lost worshippers. It’s the brainchild of Marnie Fienberg, a family member of one of the murdered in that mini-Holocaust by bullets. Marnie is the now-deceased Joyce Fienberg’s daughter-in-law.
Marnie will never forget how “Joyce always invited friends, neighbors, co-workers and international students to our family’s holiday meals,” she says. So despite making this first Pesach without her, she’s picking up on the holiday hosting herself. And instead of letting her mother-in-law’s tradition lapse, she’s not only going to carry it on, she’s putting a new spin on it by creating something she’s named “2 for Seder.”
Tree of Life Synagogue has not only endorsed Marnie’s creation, but adopted it as its own, and recently announced it publicly as “A Grassroots Event to Fight Anti-Semitism,” with this subtitle: “Pushing Back on Anti-Semitism with Love and Matzah.”
According to the now-sponsoring shul, “The 2 for Seder event encourages Jewish families to welcome two non-Jews into Seder, to experience firsthand the most celebrated Jewish holiday of the year in America. Opening the Seder to newcomers can dispel myths that breed misunderstanding, and directly fight biased attitudes. By opening up our homes at Seder, Jewish families start a dialogue with non-Jewish friends and create a ripple-effect.”
Marnie herself continues, “Joyce’s generosity and openness meant new people were regularly a dynamic part of our family’s holiday meals. With 2 for Seder, we are following her example.”
And this is not just for Pittsburgh — it’s already heading across the U.S. and Canada, thanks to a partnership with virtually every Jewish institution in the sponsoring city, all under the management of Pittsburgh Idea Evolutions (PIE), a brand-new nonprofit focusing on creative ways to help North American Jews take part in the fight against anti-Semitism. This year’s goal? A thousand participating families, to give 2,000 new people the Pesach experience.
“Together we can fight hate,” say both Marnie and Tree of Life. “Participating allows everyone to stay in touch with Pittsburgh while taking positive action to push back against the misunderstandings and unfamiliarity with Jewish customs that can become the seeds of anti-Semitism.”
Would your family like to take part? Sign up at www.2forseder.org and receive a special kit to help you be comfortable about welcoming strangers into your home. This will be in the best traditions of Abraham, who welcomed all strangers into his tent. And that’s especially fitting for the day when we open our doors and invite all those who are hungry to come in. By hosting 2 for Seder in your own home, you can introduce two strangers to special foods and their meanings, and through this ritual meal, will be feeding your guests some participatory knowledge of Judaism!
If you make the decision to do this, please email me at harrietgross@
sbcglobal.net so I can publicly announce that you’ve earned some gold stars for your heavenly crown by letting Tree of Life know that 2 for Seder has also become the newest part of Pesach for some Dallas-area Jews.
An important personal P.S. from me: You all know by now how much I love Pittsburgh, my hometown. And now you should definitely know why: it’s truly a united City of Steel in overcoming adversity, with a Jewish community continuing to show itself “Stronger Than Hate” by bringing new hope from its own tragedy.
Maybe next year: 2 for Seder also in New Zealand?

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