"Boston is a city that has changed over the last 20 years. We are a city of tolerance. We understand our differences," Menino told The Pilot.
"Diversity is the strength of Boston," he said.
In the same way that the traditional Seder has celebrated the exodus of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt throughout its history, the event at the UMass Campus Center commemorated the struggles of immigrant groups and individuals striving for freedom in the United States.
Speakers at the event drew parallels between the experiences of the exodus with the struggles of immigrants in the local community.
According to organizers, the Seder brought around 350 guests together to share stories of a nation of immigrants on their own exodus-like journeys in the United States.
Anthony Guerriero, assistant director of community relations for the Massachusetts Port Authority, shared a story about the day his parents, immigrants from the Philippines, became naturalized citizens after living in the United States for 30 years.
"I know America is as much theirs as mine --probably more-so, since they had been here long. But I never noticed the lines of distinction between Filipino, American, and Filipino-American in my own family until that day. But, seeing so many others pledge allegiance made me feel that American was enough. It blurred all those lines," he said.
The traditional Seder includes the asking of four questions by young people at the dinner. The fourth question was presented to the guests in multiple languages to reflect the diversity of the American immigrant experience.
"Why is this night different from all other nights?" representatives from various groups asked in languages as varied as Urdu, Korean, and Portuguese.
The theme of diverse traditions and people of Boston coming together in peace to develop relationships, counter hate, and encourage solidarity in a nation built by immigrants became the answer built throughout the night by speakers and organizers at "A Nation of Immigrants Community Seder."
Speaking with The Pilot after the event, the cardinal remarked on the theme from the viewpoint of the Church.
"Something like a Seder meal is an opportunity to bring people together and to underscore some of our common history. Certainly the Seder meal is very important in the history of salvation, for what it means in God's promise of liberation for God's people in Israel, and also for us as Christ used this very symbolic meal to initiate the Eucharist of the new covenant," the cardinal said.
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