On Juneteenth, Joy and Grief Mingle for Black Jews – Rabbinical Student Koach Frazier

On June 17, the Jewish Exponent published an article on Juneteenth featuring rabbinical student Koach Baruch Frazier. An excerpt appears below. The full article can be found at:


When Koach Baruch Frazier prepares their seder plate, they nestle beets next to okra, blackeyed peas, eggs boiled in hibiscus tea, hot red peppers, baked sweet potato and cornbread, all arranged in a plate set next to a kiddush cup fizzing with red soda.

Frazier puts away their Passover seder plate on the 22nd of Nisan, like many Jews, and, on June 19, instead favors another seder plate, heaped with foods tinted crimson, representing “ingenuity and resilience and bondage,” in observance of Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is the national recognition and celebration of Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger announcing the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas, the most isolated of the southern states and therefore slowest to emancipate enslaved peoples. 

Frazier wears many hats. They are a student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and rabbinic intern at Kol Tzedek synagogue in West Philadelphia, and as a member of the Black Jewish Liberation Collective, have worked alongside Jews for Racial and Economic Justice for the past three years to create a Juneteenth seder for Black Jews around the country.

The Juneteenth seder Frazier organizes is similar to a Passover one: There are blessings, candle-lightings and the telling of the story of liberation from oppression.

Among the familiar rituals, Frazier incorporates new ones, such as the telling of ancestral stories, starting with the attendee with the oldest story.

“It’s not just the telling of the story of Juneteenth, but the telling of family and ancestral story, which is really powerful, particularly for a group of people who have had our stories stolen,” Frazier said.

For other Jews, Juneteenth rituals look different….

(The full story can be found at https://www.jewishexponent.com/2021/06/17/on-juneteenth-joy-and-grief-mingle-for-black-jews/)

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