Holy Thursday

Years ago, I taught sixth grade religion at the church to which we belonged. I really liked teaching about the bible and especially enjoyed pulling in Jewish traditons. One year, I decided it would be fun to have a sedar meal with my students and their parents. The sedar is a special meal that the Jewish people share on the feast of Passover each year. In the New Testament, we read about Jesus celebrating the Passover with his friends on the night before his death. Christians make a connection between this celebration and the practice of sharing bread and wine when they come together for worship. On Holy Thursday, many congregations commemorate the “Last Supper” in their congregations.

To prepare for the event I read all I could find about the Jewish sedar. I learned about the special foods they eat and about the telling of the story of Moses and the Hebrews leaving Egypt. I created a script for parents and kids to read together during the meal. For the boys and dads, I made yarmulka’s, those little skull caps you see on the heads of Jewish men. I found some people to help me prepare the foods: unleavened bread (no yeast), an apple mixture, boiled eggs. I sent out invitations. Finally, I hoodwinked the pastor to come and lead the fathers in reading their part in the script. I led the mothers and we got a teen to lead the sixth graders. The event was wonderful. Everyone loved it.

I loved it so much that I thought it would be really fun to do it in my own home. Our family celebrated Passover for the first time 33 years ago. The pages with the script have carried gravy and wine stains from one year to the next. About 15 year ago, our youngest daughter, Heidi, created beautifully bound books that we continue to use each year. While we try to be careful, these too have carried gravy and wine stains.

There is a role in the sedar for the youngest child. He or she is asks four important “why” questions about the celebration. It is in answering these questions that the passover story gets told again. In our family, the role falls to the youngest reader. This year, our granddaughter, Ana, will do it for the first time. As we do the sedar at home, our son, Chris, and his family will be doing it at their home in Colorado.

Last year, our thirteen-year-old granddaughter Emma asked “Who will make this happen when Grandma and Grandpa die?” I am thinking there was a grandchild of a Hebrew couple that asked the same question a couple of thousand years ago. I am sure their answer was the same one we gave to Emma. “How about you?”

To my Jewish brothers and sisters, thank you for keeping this tradition alive all these many years. And to all, “Happy Passover!”


5 thoughts on “Holy Thursday”

  1. My parents lived in Israel for several years and I have grown up having a Sedar every year too, it’s really beautiful and I will continue the tradition on with my children.

  2. I am confused. Are your family members of the Jewish faith, or do you merely practice this once-a-year? Were you raised Jewish, or did you merely become interested in their rituals and teachings? Just curious… Nancy K.

    1. My family is not Jewish. I became interested in Jewish traditions years ago when I first studied the Old Testament. It also happens that I had a friend at that time who was a traditional Jew. She really helped me to better understand the meaning of various traditions. She also helped me with the sedar script. I wanted to be sure the script was as accurate as possible, friendly to children, and respectful to our Jewish brothers and sisters.

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