'For you were Strangers': Jewish Ritual, Black Musics, and Commemorative Politics in Tel Aviv's Refugee Seder
Each Passover since 2009, hundreds of East African asylum seekers and Israeli activists have gathered for 'Refugee Seder', a public event to support Sudanese and Eritrean communities in Israel. Featuring a ceremonial seder meal, storytelling, speeches, and a dance party, Refugee Seder draws on age-old Jewish rituals and contemporary global black pop musics to symbolize Africans as members of the Israeli national collective. This article explores Refugee Seder's modified commemorative practices, which engage dual narratives of Jewish nationalism and cultural cosmopolitanism. I show how seder rituals enable African participants to temporarily embody a Jewish spiritual identity, and how black pop musics help publicly reframe Africans' 'blackness' as a cultural asset instead of a political liability. Ultimately, I argue that Refugee Seder distills larger ideologies of identity and belonging that are deeply rooted in Israeli collective consciousness, and which shape the trajectories of 'refugee issue' politics and policy-making.