Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus lights the candles at the 2023 American Jewish Committee’s Unity Seder at The Temple in Midtown. (Dyana Bagby)

More than 300 people gathered March 29 at The Temple, Atlanta’s historic synagogue located in Midtown, to celebrate the American Jewish Committee’s annual Unity Seder.

The seder is the Jewish holiday of Passover to remember the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, from slavery into freedom. For decades, the Unity Seder was a Black and Jewish event. In recent years, the AJC opened the seder up to people from different ethnicities and religions.

Rabbi Loren Filson Lapidus, senior associate rabbi at The Temple, greeted everyone and said the people in the room each represent a unique story, but they are also part of a larger community responsible for each other.

“How pleasant it is for each of us to sit together, each of us affirming either our faith identities, gender identities, ethnic and racial identities — so many groups we represent, and unique stories we tell,” Lapidus said.

“We also celebrate our unity, our shared identities as beautiful creations made in the Divine image,” Lapidus said. “Tonight is about the sacred act of listening, learning and connecting eye to eye and heart to heart.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens spoke of his “Year of the Youth” initiative and read the seder’s four questions that were then discussed at each table.

The questions: What needs to happen to create sustainable change for our young people? What do we need to learn about each other so we can create positive influences on the culture of Atlanta? How do we foster authentic unity to help those who need our support? How can we draw on our shared commonalities?

Bringing people together to listen and learn from each other strengthens bonds between individuals, which in turn builds a stronger community that can work for a world where all people are cherished, Lapidus said.

“The idea is that all are welcome, not just to the literal seder, but to the ideas we celebrate and aspire to this evening — freedom, justice, equality, and peace,” she said.

“To make that a reality we must see the seder as a true call to action, a springboard into being partners with God and one another, and making real the world we dream of for ourselves and for our children.”

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Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.