Tenille and I had an opportunity to attend a Seder (Passover Dinner) with the TBH Jewish community in Olympia.  Back at Microsoft, my office mate was Jewish and she put the idea in my head that I should try and attend one.  Admittedly, it was a bit difficult.  I contacted several rabbis from this list.  I was rejected 3 times, before finally, I found one that would allow non-jews to attend.

The seder had 15 steps.  Everyone got a 100 page book, which listed the steps and what is involved in each step.  A good description is listed here.  Most of the dinner was in English by a very charismatic rabbi.  Then, the songs and prayers were given in Hebrew.  We sat at the college table.  One of them was studying to be a rabbi himself.  They were very friendly and answered all of our questions. 

We started discussing interfaith participation, when one of them mentioned attending a passion play and being slightly aghast.  Apparently, during the last supper, Jesus was breaking bread, and it was a big piece of sourdough.  Everyone at the table laughed.  Tenille and I smiled, not getting the joke…  It was explained to us that when Jesus attended a passover dinner, there would not have been leavened bread.  He would have been breaking something like Matzo (or crackers).  Before attending the seder, we were given strict dietary guidelines on what was and was not appropriate.  We were assigned to bring a salad asked to strictly adhere to these guidelines.  Needless to say, leavened bread was a big no-no. 

One of the biggest take-aways for me from the experience was putting the last supper in context of the passover.  The purpose of passover is a ritual to remember how God loves and saved his children from Egypt.  There was a part where the rabbi broke the bread that represented each one of us, somehow broken inside.  There were 4 cups of wine (or grape juice in our case) that were drunk throughout the meal – each representing something different.  In the last supper, Jesus initiates a ritual (now practiced by most Christians) as a remembrance that He has loved us, and saves us from sin and spiritual death.  He takes the bread and wine rituals that are part of the seder, and transforms them into a slightly different meaning, but one that still fits with the theme of God’s love and redemption of his people.

Tenille and I also noticed the parallels between some of the traditions during Passover and Christian traditions.  In the middle of the table was a plate that represented various aspects of Passover.  One of the symbols were an egg representing new life.  One of the traditions was to hide a piece of Matzo, and allow the children to go hunt for it.  We sang a song that was progressive like the 12 days of Christmas.  It starts off:

Who knows one?

I know one.

One is our God, in heaven and on earth.
Who knows two?

I know two.

Two are the tablets of the covenant;

One is our God, in heaven and on earth.

It goes up to 13… at which point the rabbi enthusiastically yelled, “now backwards!”  (It was a long song… )  Here’s the whole text.

The dinner lasted about 3.5 hours and we were glad we didn’t bring the kids.  It was a fun experience for us, and gave more depth to the meaning of Easter, the Sacrament, the last supper, and, of course, the passover dinner.

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