Latino and Jewish communities united are a force for social good


Rebecca Howeth

Marleen Villanueva passes food to a fellow participant of the first annual Mexican-Jewish Seder, while her friend Amalia Hernandez dishes food onto her own plate. Texas Hillel, UT’s chapter of the international Jewish student organization, hosted the Seder dinner Thursday evening and over 140 guests attended.

Tracy Frydberg

On March 26 from 5:45 to 8 p.m., the Latino-Jewish Student Coalition’s Third Annual Freedom Seder, a meal that brings together Latino and Jewish students on our campus through the sharing of traditions and stories, will be held at Texas Hillel.

The traditional seder is a ritual meal during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which celebrates the Jewish people’s exodus from slavery in Egypt and subsequent journey to the land of Israel.

While Passover marks the flight from the despair of shackles to the joy of freedom, we remember that not everyone has had the opportunity to join along in the journey.

At our seder, over an untraditional Passover meal of enchiladas, we will highlight stories of current immigration and labor struggles facing the Latino community and the quest to find a new home in the United States along with stories of cooperation between these communities.

Undocumented UT students will share their experiences along with student activists and community members who have done ground-breaking work in bringing communities together and organizing for social justice causes.

Ultimately, this seder is part of something much larger stirring on UT’s campus. The Latino-Jewish Student Coalition, the organizers of the event and of which I am a member, launched three years ago with the goal of bringing two wonderfully rich and culturally unique communities together to partner in creating proactive social change in our community. 

The organization began based on the premise that Latinos and Jews are overwhelmingly unfamiliar with each other’s history, culture and issues, but, when given the opportunity to meet and learn about the other, these communities can be an unstoppable force for positive social change from a campus to national level.

The coalition has created a strong precedent for cross-cultural collaboration that can be applied to any two communities. We have had the opportunity to become friends and allies, celebrate each other’s holidays and successes, and stand in solidarity against bigotry and hate on our campus and in our community.

The seder is a culmination of all of our efforts on campus, and it will end with a persuasive call for community action.

Frydberg is a journalism and Middle Eastern studies junior.