First Ever interfaith, interactive, online Seder attracts women nationwide


Nearly 30 Jewish and Muslim female community leaders from across the UK came together this week for what was probably the first ever online interactive, interfaith seder.

The women – who were all group co-chairs of Nisa-Nashim, the UK national network of Muslim and Jewish women – came together from Manchester, Essex, Hull, Peterborough, Bournemouth, Hertfordshire, Leeds and London on Zoom.

Led by Alyth’s Rabbi Hannah Kingston and musical director Katie Hainbach, the women learnt more about each other’s faith and festivals, and by doing so refused to allow the current Coronavirus crisis to come between them.

Each woman made her own creative Seder ‘plate’ with juice, a cracker, and other items they could find, make or improvise.  As they held up their parsley and ate their home-made variations of charoset and bitter herbs they shared their hopes and fears about the current ‘plague’ as well as recognising the other challenges of today – such as ignorance, fear of the Other and intolerance.  Most of the Muslim women had never attended a seder and welcomed the opportunity to learn more about Judaism and its festivals, with both religiously progressive and more traditional interpretations expressed and discussed.

The online format enabled women from far and wide to be together – ensuring a truly national event.

Rabbi Hannah focussed on Miriam’s Cup and the central role of women, both Israelite and Egyptian in the story of the Exodus, which particularly resonated with the Nisa-Nashim women.

Organiser and Nisa-Nashim co-founder Laura Marks said: “In the nightmare of the current crisis, the number of Jewish and Muslim women who gathered for this unusual seder gives me hope. To see them support, care for and hear each other was uplifting”

Rabbi Hannah Kingston said “At times when we are told to be socially distant, coming together to share the similarities in our narratives is especially powerful”

Nisa-Nashim chair Hifsa Iqbal-Haroon said “At Nisa-Nashim we know that sharing our faith traditions, albeit virtually, allows us to deepen our love and respect for each other, something so much needed in our even more deeply fractured world .”

Wessex co-chair Lynda Forde-Horne (Bournemouth) said “When Jewish and Muslim women came together to celebrate Passover via the Internet we were very clear that we will not let this modern day plague defeat us”

Leeds co-chair Cllr Salma Arif said “There was something magical about celebrating seder virtually.  The room was full of both Jewish and Muslim women, feeling connected to one another regardless of the physical separation”

Manchester co-chair Joanne Feldman said “Having this national seder on line enabled more of us to take part and to feel connected, something so essential in these exceptional times of division and separation.”