1969 Freedom SederSymposium: Thursday, November 12, 2015

In April 1969, on the first anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Jewish and African-American activists came together in Washington, D.C. to share a meal in solidarity, an event which came to be known as the Freedom Seder. Based on a text written by Arthur Waskow, this event would exert a long-lasting influence on American life, generating considerable controversy while also sparking new forms of political activism and religious practice across the ideological spectrum. The content, context, and legacy of this event formed the focus of this year's Embodied Judaism symposium.

The symposium featured leading scholars and practitioners from across North America. Each presented on a different aspect of the Freedom Seder and its legacy and then lead the audience in an embodied experience. This year, we were excited to welcome Rabbi Arthur Waskow, one of the central figures behind the original Freedom Seder and the current director of the Shalom Center; Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, co-chair of the board of directors of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and writer of the popular blog Velveteen Rabbi; Adam Bradley, Associate Professor of English and Founding Director of the Laboratory for Race and Popular Culture at CU-Boulder; and Riv-Ellen Prell, Professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota and the 2015 Jim and Diane Shneer Fellow in Post-Holocaust American Judaism. Moshe Kornfeld, Postdoctoral Fellow and Jewish Studies Lecturer, opened this year's symposium with a welcoming song.

In addition to the symposium, there is a walk-through wall exhibit that explores the Freedom Seder and its legacy, along with the storied careers of Rabbi Waskow and Rabbi Leah Novick. The exhibit is located on the 2nd floor of Norlin Library on the CU-Boulder campus. It opened to the public in early November and was formally launched at the symposium. It is available for viewing during regular library hours, which can be found here.

The symposium and exhibit engage materials housed in the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Archive, a collaborative project between the Libraries and CU-Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies.

Check out the video from the symposium

Check out photos from the symposium

The symposium was presented by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies and University Libraries. This event was generously cosponsored by CU-Boulder’s Graduate Committee on the Arts and HumanitiesCenter for Western Civilization, Thought and PolicyDepartment of AnthropologyDepartment of EnglishDepartment of Ethnic Studies,Department of HistoryDepartment of Religious Studies, and Department of Women and Gender Studies. Special thank you to the Bender Family Foundation, the Jim and Diane Shneer Endowed Fellowship Fund, which supported Riv-Ellen Prell’s visit, and all donors to the Program in Jewish Studies for their support.