Did You Know?
This year, the holidays of Passover and Easter happen to fall simultaneously: our Passover Seder will be Friday night, April 6 and the holiday will connue through the next week, while Easter will be Sunday, April 8. Historically and theologically, these two springme fesvals are directly linked, though the messages they offer to us today differ slightly.
Both holidays have a central theme of blood and sacrifice. In the Passover narrave, the historical context is the impending Exodus from Egypt. To avoid the Tenth Plague, the death of the firstborn, God directs the Israelites to slaughter and eat a lamb per family and to put the blood on their wooden doorposts to prevent the death of their children. Chrisanity borrows these symbols, but changes their meanings. The “lamb” of course, is Jesus, who represents God’s first born son. The “blood” comes from Jesus’ death on the wooden cross and Chrisanity suggests that his sacrifice enables believers to triumph over death themselves.
At the Passover Seder, we have three pieces of matzah; the middle of which is broken and a piece is hidden to be eaten at the end of the seder, shared by all in aendance. Our Chrisan friends again borrow the symbols, but change their meanings. Perhaps the three matzot represent the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the middle of which (Jesus) is “broken” through crucifixion, “hidden” in the tomb which is later found empty, and then “shared” with the world.
In all of these examples and indeed in many more, Chrisanity borrows from its Jewish roots to find common symbols which are then endowed with new theological significance. Even the ritual of the seder itself is borrowed by the Synopc Gospels of Mark, Mahew and Luke which characterize the Last Supper as a Passover Seder. Unfortunately, from an historical perspecve, this is problemac. If the Last Supper is the seder, it would mean the trial narrave and crucifixion take place on the first day of the Passover fesval, a day when no work would have been done and no court would have been in session. The New Testament itself wrestles with this issue, suggesng the community was in a hurry to complete the trial and execuon before the coming of the Sabbath. There is a beer answer to the chronology. The Gospel of John suggests that they’re in a hurry because the seder is not the Last Supper, but rather the evening at the end of the day of the trial, meaning Jesus is the “lamb” for the Passover offering, a far more powerful image of sacrifice and faith.
In the end, both holidays celebrate springme and renewal. While Easter for Chrisans celebrates the sacrifice that allows for freedom from the slavery of spiritual death, Passover for Jews celebrates the freedom from slavery in Egypt. Both holidays, therefore, inspire us to give thanks for how blessed we are at this season of hope and to show our thanks by sharing our blessings with those who are in need. As we say each year at our Passover Seder, “Let all who are hungry come and eat!” May all of us who hunger for learning, fellowship and spiritual growth find this spring holiday season one of inspiraon and fulfillment.
Explore “Passover – Easter Parallels” with Rabbi Lief. Monday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome!
Archives Notes of the Past
Temple: Laura & Ashley Street 1910-1950
Excerpt from the 1932 “Temple Sentinel” “Falashas” - Written by Irma Streng
“Black Jews. Are there any black Jews? Yes, such people really exist. If you will take out your map of Africa, you will see the Gulf of Aden. The Coast of Abyssinia is at the Gulf of Aden. This is where the black Jews live.
These primive people live in rude huts of one room. Their domesc animals, goats, sheep and fowl live in this one room with them. They sleep on the ground and their fireplace serves for cooking, heang and lighng. These Jews haven’t any money, but barter, or trade among themselves.
The name “Falashas” was given to them by the nave Africans which means “exile” and “stranger,” or “immigrant”. These Jews thought they were the only Jews le in the world unl twenty-five years ago. For this reason they thought it all the more important for them to hold steadfast to their religion.
Twenty-five years ago, a student from Paris, Jacques Faithovitch, heard there were Jews in Africa and went in search for them. The naves were afraid of him because he was the first white man they had ever seen. They were much surprised when he told them that he was a Jew and that there were thousands just like him all over the world. They were very anxious to learn the ancient language. He stayed with them a year and a half and when he le, he took with him two boys intending to give them an educaon in Europe.
One of these boys has recently been in America to convince the Jews here that the Jews in Abyssinia are a worthy branch of Jewry. He speaks Italian, French, German and Hebrew, besides his own nave languages. If you met him in the street you would take him for just another black man, but if you heard him talk you would forget all about his color and feel that he was a good Jew like yourself.
Hazel Mack 5
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