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Seder Behind Bars

Passover is a time to commemorate our freedom, but as New York Magazine points out, perhaps no one understands the meaning of the holiday more than the Jewish inmates at Otisville Prison. The Jewish prisoners, who number about 60, hold a yearly Seder at the medium-security facility in upstate New York. Unlike the ancient Israelites, who were enslaved by Pharaoh against their will, the inmates at Otisville are mostly white collar criminals. Still, prison chaplain Gary Friedman argues that the Seder allows the men to celebrate freedom, at least in the metaphorical sense. “The Haggadah has a line that reads ‘Tonight we are all free men,’ and for the duration of the Seder, they are.”

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