Jewish Council compiles new Four Questions for Seder

March 18, 2010

The Jewish Council for Racial Equality has compiled its own Seder questions and answers which it hopes families will incorporate into the service.

It asks why there is "so much prejudice" against asylum seekers and refugees and why Jews have a special responsibility towards those seeking refuge in Britain. The issues of why our forebears came to Britain and why do people seek sanctuary in the UK complete the four questions.

Jcore leaders feel "the Seder provides us with a good opportunity to think about not only what the Exodus story means for Jews, but also about contemporary injustice, such as the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Britain today".

The supplementary questions have been sent to Orthodox, Masorti, Liberal and Reform congregations and can also be downloaded from the Jcore website.

Supportive ministers include Shenley Synagogue's outgoing rabbi Natan Levy, who said: "Because our children see the world through new eyes, they can ask questions that challenge the very inequality we have become inured to."

New North London Synagogue's Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg found particular resonance in the question about Jews' special responsibility to asylum seekers. "This is because my mother's family came here at Pesach- time in April 1939. Had they not been able to obtain visas, they would probably have perished in Nazi Germany. It's therefore clear to me that we have a special relationship with, and duty towards, asylum seekers.

"The memory of being slaves in Egypt is the core narrative of the Jewish people. It is the touchstone of Jewish ethics, as if to say: 'You have known what injustice and persecution feels like, therefore never do that to others.'"

Last updated: 3:45pm, March 18 2010