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The Schmooze

Yes, You Can And Should Bring Beyonce Into Your Seder

Just ten minutes into the documentary “Homecoming,” new on Netflix on Wednesday, Beyoncé stands at the peak of a pyramid, wind rushing through her hair, and sings a freedom song to her people.

The 37-year-old icon’s voice whisks over the melody of “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” the African American national anthem, like a flag planted triumphantly on a battlefield. It’s a moment — during the legendary performer’s famed 2018 performance at the Coachella music festival — of profound power, freedom, thanksgiving, and pride.

Forget your grandpa’s stale rendition of “Go Down Moses” or your family’s tradition of skirting around America’s shameful history of black slavery — this moment belongs at your seder.

When it comes to the best recipe for charoset, the be-all-end-all melody to sing The Order of the Seder, or strategy for finding the Afikomen, so many of us feel confident — Passover is the most celebrated Jewish holiday, after all (take that, ritzy, present-filled Hanukkah.) But when we want to infuse our Seders with difficult discussions about real freedom — and perhaps reflect on the way communities of people not represented around our table experience enslavement — many of us feel like the child who does not know how to ask. For black Jews, simply being acknowledged may not even be on the table.

That’s where Beyoncé comes in. Play her rendition of “Lift Every Voice” as it segues into her invocation of black power and justice, “Formation.” Or, if your tradition prohibits screens and speakers, print the lyrics in advance to discuss them. Where can we locate the Exodus story in the American Civil Rights movement and the struggle of black Louisianans struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina? What is it about Beyonce’s powerful leadership that is Moses-like?

And if all else fails, these Beyoncéder memes will do the trick.

It’s Passover, a “homecoming” of a people to freedom, and also to the wilderness of confusion. Now go get that seder plate in formation.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

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