Birthright division helps young Jews host creative Passover seders

A NEXT Passover seder in Los Angeles. Credit: NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel.

( Hundreds of young American Jews will host imaginative and creative Passover seders with friends this year as a result of assistance from the NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel program.

The program grants Birthright Israel alumni resources and funds designed to encourage them to create their own take on the traditional holiday's festive meal. Participants have until April 14 to register for the program, which has sponsored more than 1,000 Passover seders since 2011.

"My colleagues really enjoyed learning about the ties between the story of Jewish slavery and African American slavery in the United States… We used a progressive Haggadah that also discussed modern slavery and quoted Anne Frank and Nelson Mandela," said Ben W. from Washington, DC, who hosted his 2013 NEXT Seder for co-workers at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"NEXT Passover seders tap into the creativity and passion of the Birthright Israel Generation—and the desire to engage in Jewish experiences with their peers," CEO of NEXT Morlie Levin said in a statement.

NEXT's stated mission is to "empower communities, professionals, and Birthrighters themselves to create meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults." Additionally, NEXT "routinely shares information about national young adult engagement trends, and trains engagers—the professionals who interact directly with young Jewish adults—to successfully reach young adults in their communities," a press release said.

The NEXT Shabbat initiative has helped more than 7,600 Birthright alumni host more than 17,800 Shabbat meals. Former NEXT Passover seder host Vanessa R. of Brighton, Mass., said, "I have never found a Haggadah that I was truly satisfied with so I decided to write my own and test-drive it with my friends. I envisioned a seder where my peers felt engaged enough in the story of Passover to have meaningful discussions about it. I also wanted to make the story relevant to modern-day life and relate it to some of the social justice work I do."

Posted on March 25, 2014 .