April 1: Occupy Interfaith Freedom Seder & Palm Sunday Processional
OCCUPY FAITH/OCCUPY JUDAISM INTERFAITH FREEDOM SEDER & PALM SUNDAY PROCESSIONAL IN SOLIDARITY WITH OCCUPY WALL STREET
Sunday, April 1, beginning at 11 AM
Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Sq. South
11 AM · Palm Sunday observance and Agape meal
12 PM · Palm processional and pyramid protest
1:30 PM · Freedom Seder
On April 1, 2012, members of Occupy Wall Street and New York City’s Jewish and Christian communities, including Occupy Faith NYC, Occupy Judaism, Occupy Catholics, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, The Shalom Center, Congregation Kolot Chayeinu and Judson Memorial Church, will come together for a public Palm Sunday processional and Passover Freedom Seder in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The annual Jewish holiday of Passover marks the liberation of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt. Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ triumphant arrival in Jerusalem, which is followed shortly thereafter by his expulsion of the moneychangers from the Holy Temple. These holidays are explicitly connected to the themes of Occupy Wall Street, which challenges the corruption of the financial elite and struggles towards the liberation of the 99% from the bonds of economic slavery.
Following a traditional Palm Sunday observance and agape meal at NYC’s historic Judson Memorial Church (55 Washington Sq. South), protesters waving palms will pilgrimage to five symbolic “pyramids of power” to tell the pharaohs of government and industry to “Let our people go!” A Chase bank will symbolize the corruption of Wall Street and Americans’ enslavement to debt; a McDonald’s will embody the inaccessibility of healthy food to the poor and working class; the Varick St. Detention Center will epitomize the evisceration of American civil liberties in the wars on terrorism and illegal immigration; a BP gas station will represent environmental devastation wrought in the callous pursuit of profit; and the NYU Financial Aid office will signify crushing student debt. At each stop, clergy will recite Biblical texts and demonstrators will reflect on the connection between these oppressions and the unyielding corruption and insatiable greed of the 1%.
Following the palm processional, protesters will return to Judson Memorial Church for an interfaith Freedom Seder, a ritual meal which uses food to symbolically evoke themes of slavery and liberation. Conceived of in 1969 by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, a civil rights and environmental activist who participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides, the first Freedom Seder commemorated the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and celebrated the liberatory narrative of the Passover Haggadah by affirming the struggle for Black liberation. 43 years later, Rabbi Waskow has become a participant in and advocate for the Occupy movement – a contemporary struggle for human liberation – and will help to lead this Freedom Seder which will tie the themes of Occupy Wall Street back to the Passover liturgy.
Occupy Faith NYC is a coalition of New York City interfaith leaders supporting Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Judaism is Occupy Wall Street’s Jewish community contingent, which organized high holiday services and erected a sukkah (tabernacle) in Zuccotti Park. Jews For Racial & Economic Justice is a local NGO that addresses issues of racial and economic justice in New York City. The Philadelphia-based Shalom Center, helmed by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, advocates for social, economic and environmental justice with a prophetic Jewish voice. Congregation Kolot Chayeinu is a progressive Jewish congregation in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Judson Memorial Church is a historic New York City Christian congregation known for its leadership in the progressive faith community.