Labor Seders Across the Country
New England Jewish Labor Committee's 2016 Labor Seder Photo by Michael Massey
April 20, 2016 - 3,500 years ago, the Hebrew slaves gained their freedom from bondage in ancient Egypt. Their liberation has been celebrated for over two millennia with the holiday of Passover. The Jewish Labor Committee celebrates Passover with our own unique flair: our annual Labor Seders! These not only serve to celebrate Passover, but to also bring together local leaders of the labor movement and their counterparts in the organized Jewish community to “break matza,” explore the story of the ancient Israelites from captivity to freedom, and relate that to today’s efforts to secure dignity and security for working men and women, their families and communities. This year, JLC has organized, sponsored or assisted labor seders in Boston, MA, West Orange, NJ, New York, NY, Washington, DC, Madison, WI, and Philadelphia, PA.
This year’s New England JLC Labor Seder had a great turnout, with over 200 attendees in Boston, held at the headquarters of IBEW Local 103. For this year's seder, the NE JLC again produced a new local version of the classic JLC Haggadah. During the ceremony, each of the four cups of wine honored past and current struggles in the Jewish community and the labor movement, including the Fight for $15 and social, criminal, and economic justice, paid sick-leave, paid family leave, and regular work schedules. At this year’s New England Labor Seder, Attorney General Maura Healey received the Clara Lemich Shavelson Award for her work in support of earned sick time and the statewide Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. Rabbis David Lerner and Victor Reinstein both received Abraham Joshua Heschel Awards for Rabbinic Justice and Leadership; both have played significant roles in the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis as it goes on record in support of working men and women.