March 28, 2018
On Tuesday March 27th, AJC Seattle held its 6th Annual Intergroup Seder at the Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island. This was a model Passover Seder geared to the interfaith community. Among the Seder guests were four Washington state legislators, four Consuls General, nine honorary consuls and 33 interdenominational and inter-group representatives from the region.
The Seder was led by Rabbi James Mirel, Rabbi Emeritus Temple Bnai Torah and his daughter Chava Mirel. Each of the “Four Questions” was recited in a different language: Spanish, Japanese, Mandinka and Kinyarwanda.
Long time Mercer Island Bill Hochberg, Board President of AJC Seattle, introduced Senator Lisa Wellman, 41st LD. Wellman addressed the crowd, with both personal anecdotes and childhood memories of her own Passover experiences. She also briefed the audience on what she sees as current struggles and challenges in the state, particularly around immigration issues.
The event’s featured speaker Shadi Martini, Director of Humanitarian Relief and Regional Relations of Multifaith Alliance. A Syrian refugee who along with his family, immigrated to the United States in 2012. Martini spoke of his upbringing, the effects of civil war in his country and his path in Syrian relief efforts.
In 2011, Martini began supplying aid to those in need, an act forbidden by the Assad regime. His network was discovered in 2012 and he was forced to flee Syria. He and his family immigrated to the U.S. the same year. Haunted by the fate of his people, he returned to Syria to continue aiding others. In 2013, he was approached by two Israelis that wanted to help get aid into Syria. It was difficult for him to grasp their wanting to help, he was skeptical of their motivations. He was taught that Israelis were the enemy, that sought death for him and his people. In the dire situation he decided he would take the chance and accept their offer. Over $33 million in aid has been brought into Syria through Israel and over 4,000 war-wounded have been brought to Israeli hospitals for care.