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Hundreds gather for interfaith ‘freedom seder’

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds gathered at Temple Israel synagogue Saturday night to mark the second night of Passover with an interfaith "freedom seder."

Many don't realize Dr. Martin Luther King was set to attend a Passover seder in Memphis after he was killed.

The hundreds of people who came together Saturday talked about the struggle for freedom and civil rights by incorporating lessons from history.

Members of local churches including Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, Freedom's Chapel Christian Church and New Direction Christian Church joined the Temple Israel Jewish community for a commemoration of the struggle for freedom.

“The message of Passover is the message of [Dr. Martin Luther] King: that no one is free until everyone is free,” Rabbi Micah Greenstein said.

Greenstein helped plan the freedom seder for 500 attendees on the second night of Passover, which recalls the story of the Jewish people leaving Egypt to escape slavery.

“What many people aren’t aware of is that King’s dream lives through communities like Temple Israel and the other church partners committed not only to equality and justice but to the message of Passover: freedom for all,” Greenstein said.

“We can talk about our exodus from Egypt in the way we talk about slavery, Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement and how connected we all are,” said Mary Kanowitz, who attended the event.

“The one thing certain about bitterness is its blindness,” said Dr. Roz Nichols, organizing pastor of Freedom's Chapel Christian Church. “Tearing down systems of injustice and inequity will be uncomfortable.”

Speakers like Nichols and NAACP President Cornell Brooks knew there’s still a lot of work to do; it took an interfaith coalition in the 1960s and it still does today.

“While the world is coming to Memphis on April 4, those of us who’ve made Memphis our home are committed to the struggle for justice every day of the year, especially on April 5 when everyone leaves,” Greenstein said.

He knew he’d have at least 500 people who understand what unites them is stronger than what divides.