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City Winery hosts 31st Annual Downtown Seder (Virtual)

Wednesday April 17, 2024 07:00 PM EDT
Cost: No charge for virtual

From the venue:

City Winery hosts 31st Annual Downtown Seder
Wed, April 17, 2024 - 7pm
Purchase tickets here
Livestream available at citywinery.com/seder


Michael Dorf started this event at the Knitting Factory in 1993, moved it to Museum of Jewish Heritage, and it has been held at his City Winery since 2008. 

The Downtown Seder is not your typical Passover Seder.

Five days before the actual Passover holiday begins, Dorf brings together 20 musicians, comedians, political thinkers, activists into an unprecedented mix and interpretation of this ancient holiday which transcends Judaism and takes the Passover story of tyrants harboring lethal hatred for outsiders and immigrants, the liberation struggles, the histories of oppression, bigotry, and antisemitism, and makes this dinner party relevant for our times. Dorf explains, “Our interpretation of this timeless story is to tell it in the language of the arts, in ways that we can relate and truly empathize with what it would like to be in bondage, to be emancipated, and the universal civil rights we need to continually remind ourselves.”


While the challenging subject of Israel/Palestine will be argued at tables around the world this year for the actual Passover Seders five days later, the City Winery version uses both diffuses with a number of comedy artists such as Alex Edelman and Judy Gold, or musicians from early in the civil rights movement like Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary to Israeli superstar, David Broza. To punctuate and provide context to the story of Egyptian slavery, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. will speak, as well as George Floyd’s brother Terrance Floyd. NYC Comptroller Brad Lander will offer words as well as Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie and Rabbi Tamar Manasseh, one of the leading black female rabbis in the US. Sprinkled into the dinner party is multi-year attendee Laurie Anderson, Steven Bernstein, comedian Jared Freed, the actor from Curb your Enthusiasm, Richard Kind, and gospel blues singer Nicki Richards. This one-of-kind evening is sure to be inspiring and bring back important messages to family Seders the following week. 


“Every year has local and international issues which resonate with the Passover story and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict — which has historical connections — could not make this year’s Seder conversations any more intense,” said Dorf. “However, as Jose Andres eloquently stated in his recent NYT op-ed, “Let People Eat,” we all share a culture that values food as a powerful statement of humanity and hospitality — of our shared hope for a better tomorrow. City Winery’s Seder takes these ancient symbols of life and hope and transcends the normal script using art, music, humor to bring back some joy while inspiring and feeding our soul.”


Previous press described this special annual event as:


          “Half postmodern religious ritual and half cabaret” 

          -Jewish Learning Magazine


          “More dreadlocks than yarmulkes, with Lou Reed as the ‘bad child,’ Phillip Glass and more, it felt like a cross between summer camp in the Catskills and a progressive jazz concert” 

          -The New York Times, April 27, 1997 (That’s right, been doing it a long time!)


           “The hippest Seder on Earth, more deconstructionist than Reconstructionist”       

          -The Forward Purchase tickets to the in-person event here.


More information


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