Judaism, Slavery and Transfer of Ritual: from Seder Meal to Keti Koti

  • M.J. Stoutjesdijk (Speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talkScientific


    Judaism and slavery in the (Early) Modern Dutch history are connected in a paradoxical way. Jewish merchants played an important role in the initial stages of the Dutch Transatlantic slavery and are sometimes accused of having contributed disproportionately to its growth. As a matter of fact, one of the first documented slaves on Dutch territory was a Jewish slave, property of Jewish masters (the slave Elieser). On the other hand, Jews and (descendants of) slaves sometimes find each other in a shared history of being victim of violence, oppression and discrimination. In light of this, the phenomenon of the Keti Koti Dialogue Tables is of particular interest. The Keti Koti Dialogue Tables are an invention of the Surinamese Mercedes Zandwijken, herself a descendant of slaves, and the Dutch Jew Machiel Keestra. The Keti Koti Dialogue Tables are meant to commemorate the Dutch role in the Transatlantic slavery by bringing together descendants of slaves and white Dutchmen. In the past five years Keti Koti Dialogue Tables have been organized at different places in the Netherlands and up to 5000 persons have participated in the Tables. The Keti Koti Dialogue Tables are explicitly inspired by the Jewish Seder meal. As in the Seder meals questions are asked (why are we here tonight?), symbolic food is eaten and songs are sung. In my paper I will study the Keti Koti Dialogue Tables against the background of the Seder meal through the theoretical lens of ‘transfer of ritual’ (Langer e.a. 2006). With the help of other special-purpose haggadot (manuals for the Seder meal), for i.e. the Shoa, the LGBTQ community and ‘earth justice’, I will show that the Seder meal forms a particular useful locus for experiencing and sharing feelings of hope for peace, justice, inclusiveness and dialogue.
    Period30 Oct 2018
    Event titleInterpreting Rituals: Historiographical Perspectives and Pluralistic Contexts
    Event typeConference
    LocationLeiden, NetherlandsShow on map
    Degree of RecognitionInternational


    • Judaism
    • Slavery
    • Haggadah
    • Seder meal
    • Keti Koti
    • Commemoration
    • Ritual
    • Keti Koti Dialogue Tables
    • Transatlantic Slave Trade