There are longstanding, traditional elements on a Seder plate, including maror, charoset, karpas, z’roa, and beitzah. We had all of those.
But one of the things that I like most about the traditions of Passover is that they are open to change and modification, at least in the Edelheit home. Last year, he added an orange to the plate, to show solidarity with women and GLBT persons.
This year, he added two elements. One was tomatoes, in solidarity with migrant workers who work in near-slavery in America:
Over the last few years, the issues of actual slavery (estimates of people working today as slaves in the world today range between 12 and 27 million) and workers’ rights (many, like the tomato pickers in Florida, are said to work in near-slavery conditions) have achieved greater visibility in parts of the Jewish community. Especially at Passover, the holiday that commemorates the ancient Hebrews’ freedom from slavery. Individual seder leaders, and organizations like RHR (which produces an “anti-slavery” Haggadah supplement and table cards that contain stories of modern-day slavery), Boston’s Workmen’s Circle branch and Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton, Mass., have incorporated reminders of farm workers’ rights into their seder readings.
This year the tomato — along with words of accompanying text — becomes the latest symbolic food officially added to some seder tables.
RHR and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (the central labor representative of agricultural workers “in low-wage jobs” in Florida) this week announced that they are urging Jewish homes to put a tomato on their seder plate.
Of course, this reminded me of my friend, Brian McLaren, who has been fighting for the rights of Immokalee workers in Florida for several years.
But the other element on the plate really took my breath away.