MU groups particate in Social Justice Seder

Thursday, April 16, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 10:32 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 16, 2009

COLUMBIA — Six MU organizations collaborated to host a Social Justice Seder aimed at uniting students, faculty and staff around issues of freedom and equality.

Jordan Parshall, an MU senior geography major, played a key role in Tuesday's seder, which brought together the MU Alumni Association, LGBTQ Resource Center, Multicultural Center, Women’s Center, Hillel Foundation and Jewish Student Organization. Parshall has organized the Social Justice Seder since her freshman year.

“It has the foundation of a Passover seder, but we just add things to make it more social justice-orientated,” Parshall said.

The theme of the Social Justice Seder was "everyone’s in this together." As Parshall walked around the room reciting prayers from the Social Justice Haggadah, people from many cultures and religions read in unison from the printed passages.

The Haggadah is the text setting out the order of the seder. The version used for Passover includes prayers, songs and the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt. The traditional seder meal also includes participants drinking four glasses of wine and a seder plate with herbs, horseradish, salt water, a boiled egg, shankbone and a mixture of apples, cinnamon and grape juice.

However, the Social Justice Seder made a few changes to reflect its theme. Wine was replaced with water and an orange was added to the seder plate.

"It's used in many feminist seders," Parshall said.

According to the Social Justice Seder Haggadah, placing the orange on the seder plate is a gesture of solidarity with Jewish gays and lesbians.

"We try to be as inclusive and expansive as possible," Parshall said.

For the second year, residence hall coordinator Barbie Banks, who was raised Catholic, brought her current and future student-staff members from Lathrop Hall to the seder for a bonding experience.

"As a department, Residential Life values social justice, so this is a different way of expressing social justice and bringing attention of it to our students,” Banks said.

"In our pursuit for everyone's freedom, we recognize our personal freedoms but remember all of our fates are bound up in one another," Parshall read from the Haggadah. "Our work will never end until all of humanity is free." 

Each year, Parshall and committee members develop a list of 10 different plagues focusing on the injustices taking place worldwide. A few chosen for this year included the economic crisis, gender exclusion, the plight of U.S. veterans, recycling and inaccessibility.

“I appreciate how every year they have ten different plagues, and I didn’t even know about all the things we were talking about," MU senior Rachael Chait said. "I’m being educated."

LGBTQ Resource Center staff member Sean Jarvis said, “It’s great to see that we’re all working toward the same goal. These really aren’t separate issues; the common line is my liberation is tied up in your liberation.”

Lynn Parshall, Jordan Parshall's mother, spoke about the high number of homeless veterans and post-traumatic stress disorder patients that she has seen while working at the Veterans Affairs Hospital as a nurse practitioner.

“Veterans aren’t the perpetrators, they’re the real victims of war," Lynn said. "Veterans deserve justice as well."

John Gardner, executive board member of Sustain Mizzou, spoke about the environmental, social and cultural values incorporated within sustainability. Gardner also mentioned the great economic and societal effects of recycling.

Entertainment for the seder was provided by family musicians, Sara Cleaveland, Mark Satterwhite and Hannah Satterwhite.

Cleaveland said the Social Justice Seder is “an actively involved social justice change movement."

"I’m inspired by other people working for change,” she said.

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