South African communal leadership hosts Passover 'Freedom Seder'

Matza, Maror, charoset, kneidlach, tzimmis and lots of red wine flowed as members of the government, political parties, the diplomatic community and media joined with the SA Jewish Board of Deputies.

April 18, 2019 10:58
2 minute read.
South African communal leadership hosts Passover 'Freedom Seder'

Members of South Africa's Jewish Communal leadership pose with anti-apartheid stalwarts Justice Albie Sachs and Mavuso Msimang.. (photo credit: PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALON)


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The South African Jewish Board Deputies hosted a Passover Freedom Seder this week, which celebrated of unity, human rights, democracy and freedom.

Matza, Maror, charoset, kneidlach, tzimmis and lots of red wine flowed as members of the government, political parties, the diplomatic community and media joined with the country's Jewish Communal leadership for "an event structured on the lines of a traditional Pesach Seder dinner, with its many meaningful themes and symbolic foods," the SAJBD said in a statement on Wednesday.

"A special `Haggadah’ articulated the values and principles of the Pesach story," the SAJBD said. "One of the central themes of the Freedom Seder is drawing parallels between the Jewish People’s exodus from slavery in Egypt towards freedom and the 25 year democracy celebrations in our country."

The journey from apartheid to multiracial democracy is a heroic, frequently tragic, but ultimately deeply inspiring story, and two men who were instrumental in the struggle against apatheid took part in the Seder and shared their poignant stories during the event.
The men, Justice Albie Sachs and Mavuso Msimang both shared their stories about building up South Africa's democracy "and standing up for these critical principles in our country."

Sachs is human right activist, lawyer and a former judge on the Constitutional Court of South Africa. He was a fierce opponent of apartheid and lost an arm and sight in one eye in a targeted car bomb while in Mozambique because of his work against the apartheid regime.
He was also a close friend of South Africa's first democratic president, the late Nelson Mandela.

Msimang was a leading member of the African National Congress's armed wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) during apartheid. MKs mission was to fight against the South African apartheid regime. He was also a devoted UN volunteer for health and refugee programmes in Zambia, and then worked for the World Food Programme in Kenya.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post about the event, SAJBD National Director Wendy Kahn said "it was an extraordinary evening in which we shared our precious traditions with fellow South Africans." 

"Instead of breaking bread, we broke matzah with members of government, political parties and the media, sharing the meaning behind our symbolic foods and stories from our heritage," she told the Post. "Drawing parallels between our exodus from slavery to freedom and South Africa’s transition from oppression to democracy, we were able to find the commonalities around liberation."  

The mood of the event was described as relaxed and celebratory as South Africans came together in the framework of a Pesach Seder to commemorate and uphold the values of democracy and of freedom.

"Working through a customised Hagaddah we shared the Jewish Journey from slavery, contextualising the messages to current times," Kahn explained. "Our guest speakers Justice Albie Sachs and Mavuso Msimang, two icons of the struggle to democracy, gave their personal stories, and spoke about the importance of protecting these hard fought for rights in South Africa. 

"The message was clear, we need to cherish  and guard freedom, democracy and human rights whether we be in Egypt, in South Africa or elsewhere, and we need to speak up when they are being violated," Kahn concluded

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