Marnie Fienberg started 2 for Seder in memory of her mother-in-law, Joyce Fienberg (seen here), who was gunned down in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last year.
Marnie Fienberg started 2 for Seder in memory of her mother-in-law, Joyce Fienberg (seen here), who was killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last year.

‘2 for Seder’: To combat hate, invite two non-Jews to your seder

Inspired by a Pittsburgh woman who lost a family member in last October’s synagogue shootings, the Peninsula JCC has jumped on board the nascent “2 for Seder” movement that asks Jews around the country to invite two non-Jews to join them at the table.

The overarching goal is to combat hate, misunderstanding and bias by making the unfamiliar into something known.

“How are we addressing anti-Semitism?” said Stephanie Levin, chief engagement and innovation officer at the PJCC, the Bay Area partner for 2 for Seder. “How do we help people know Jews and know about Judaism?”

Levin heard about the idea from colleagues she met in Pittsburgh after she and other JCC staff from around the country pitched in to help after the shootings.

Pittsburgh JCC staff told her about 2 for Seder, the brainchild of Marnie Fienberg, whose mother-in-law, Joyce Fienberg, was among those killed at the Tree of Life synagogue. Marnie Fienberg started 2 for Seder to honor Joyce, who had always reached out to strangers and invited them to the Passover table.

2 for Seder asks people to sign up online and then just agree to have two people over for Passover. Hosts receive a kit that includes information provided by the Anti-Defamation League on the history of the fight against anti-Semitism in the U.S. and Canada, tips on how to talk to children about hate, and ways to weave a special welcome and interesting questions to invite strangers into the haggadah.

When Levin heard about the grassroots effort, she was struck by its simplicity but also by its potential. The PJCC has been getting the message out, and Levin said 20 Bay Area families had signed up as of last week. The 2 for Seder Facebook page has 225 sign-ups in 27 states and two Canadian provinces. You can also sign up at 2forseder.org.

Levin’s own parents in San Diego signed up. She encouraged them to join the movement with the hope that simple things like a hand reached out over a table or a meal shared in friendship can have positive, lasting impacts.

“If that happens, year after year, I feel the effect and impact can really spiral,” Levin said.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.