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Rabbi Sandra Lawson Sings Song of Freedom at White House Passover Seder

“As a Jew and an African American, I carry the memory of two groups of people who were once enslaved,” said Rabbi Sandra Lawson, RRC’ 18, Reconstructing Judaism’s inaugural director of racial diversity, Justice and inclusion. 

Lawson was a featured speaker in the 2023 White House Passover Seder. The virtual event was co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and focused on food insecurity.  

Play Video about Rabbi Sandra Lawson playing an acoustic guitar

Strumming her guitar, Lawson sang, “Oh Freedom” a 19th-century spiritual that became an anthem of the Civil Rights movement and is a staple at Lawson’s own seders. The U.S. Army veteran also offered some brief remarks.  

“Every Passover, we are commanded to recall the past and tell the story of our people’s liberation from mitzrayim, the narrow place that causes pain,” she said after the song. “As a Black woman in America, the history of American slavery is much closer in our collective memory than Israelite bondage. I often think of my ancestors, who were brought here in bondage, brought here as chattel. I imagine that they found comfort in the Biblical story of the Exodus.” 

“Passover reminds us that remembering our collective story should inform our actions today.” 

Rabbi Sandra Lawson, seated and smiling, with Christina Ager, at the 2022 convention.
Rabbi Sandra Lawson shares a moment with Christina Ager at the 2022 Reconstructing Judaism Convention.

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