HRC Blog

Persecution on Passover

The following blog post comes from Hannah Henschel, HRC Jewish Organization Equality Index Intern:

The holiday of Passover (Pesach) is just around the corner. The holiday is a seven day reminder of the Jewish people’s hardships in slavery in Egypt and difficult journey after being exiled; we eat only unleavened bread (matzo) and bitter herbs (maror) so that we can physically feel this suffering. Along with traditional food, remembrance of the persecution that Jewish ancestors endured is brought forth through prayers and stories when families gather for nightly dinners. The values that come from Passover can be related to by nearly everyone and anyone who has ever felt persecution or disapproval for being themselves.  

In the LGBT community, facing persecution for how one identifies can often lead to exile, both forcefully and by choice, from one’s community.  And for some who are very religious and LGBT, the possibility of exile is so strong that they may never be able to be comfortable in their skin.  On Passover, thousands of Jewish families and communities will be gathering to remember their ancestors’ persecution. Nevertheless, there might also be LGBT individuals at those dinner tables who are hiding their identity for fear of their own persecution – even worse are those who aren’t invited because they have been open about themselves. 

The Jewish Organization Equality Index (JOEI) was created because of the need for those who aren’t at those dinner tables and for those who sit silently at the table fearful of persecution.  The 2012 JOEI Survey is a great first step for organizations to determine how they can enable these individuals to be active members of their communities and no longer sit in silence. The deadline for the survey is rapidly approaching – COB on April 6 – but there is still time. Email us at or visit us at for more information on how you can participate.

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