Judaism, Slavery and Commemorative Ritual in the Netherlands: From Seder Meal to Keti Koti

Martijn Stoutjesdijk

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Judaism and slavery in the (Early) Modern Dutch history are connected in a
    paradoxical way. Jewish merchants played a minor, but substantial 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, it
    has been claimed that 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
    slave-descendant Mercedes Zandwijken 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 Dutch people. 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. 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 this article I will
    study the Keti Koti Dialogue Tables against the background of the Seder meal
    through the theoretical lenses of Multidirectional Memory (Rothberg 2009)
    and Transfer of Ritual (Langer e.a. 2006). With the help of other special-purpose
    Haggadot (manuals for the Seder meal), for i.e. 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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    Pages (from-to)65-85
    Number of pages21
    JournalNTT Journal for Theology and the Study of Religion
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


    • Keti Koti Dialogue Tables
    • Seder meal
    • Haggadah
    • Slavery
    • The Netherlands
    • Transfer of Ritual
    • Multidirectional Memory


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