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Is Holy Week Politically or Religiously Incorrect?

Several years ago my husband and I had the pleasure of visiting Egypt and Israel with a Rabbi and his wife who made the whole experience extremely enlightening.

Praying handsSome would ask, “Can Jews and Christians share their faith?” We were such good friends that we actually enjoyed learning of both our similarities and differences as we visited all the Holy sites. I finally began to understand for the first time the connection, and our basis of having the Jewish Torah as the first five books of the Christian Old Testament.

My biggest question to Rabbi Levi was how our Easter coordinates with Passover, and he was much more knowledgeable than I. Years later I now know both the dates and  spiritual connections. This year, Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, begins at sundown on April 3 and ends at sundown on April 11.

For Christians, or those who may not know, this is the holiday commemorating the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt, as Moses led his people to the Promised Land.

It lasts seven days and begins on the 15th of Nisan, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar and ends on the 21st of Nisan in Israel and for Reform Jews. Since Hebrew days begin and end at sundown, Passover begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the paschal full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the following Sunday. The holiday can occur anywhere between March 22 and April 25. For those of us who celebrate Easter, it hopefully means more than a new outfit or decorating eggs from the “Easter Bunny.” If you want to know what it really means and how it relates to Passover, the Council of Nicaea in 325 established that “Easter” would be celebrated on Sundays.

Last year a friend of mine, born and raised Jewish, invited me to a combined service which holds all the Jewish traditions and celebrations.

She said, “The only difference is that you believe Jesus was the Messiah.” For the first time I celebrated Passover, although many of my traditional friends of both faiths disagreed.  Since it is in remembrance of the time in Israel’s history when the angel of the Lord moved through Egypt destroying the firstborn of all people and animals ( Exodus 11 and 12) I felt it was part of my Judeo-Christian heritage as well. God sent the final of ten plague upon Egypt designed to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt, ending their captivity.

They were commanded by God to take the blood of a male lamb—one without blemish—and smear it on the doorposts of their houses. When the angel of the Lord saw the blood, he would “pass over” that house. For Christians, this is a foreshadowing of Christ, the spotless Lamb of God whose blood would cover their sins, causing God’s judgment to pass over them. Ever since that night, Jews have celebrated the Passover in remembrance of God’s grace to them.

Recently, some have also used a Christian Passover as a means to communicate this parallel.

I was deeply moved as this was an understanding for me of how the Passover Seder has application to my Christian faith; and a Christian celebration of the Passover provides a unique way to bring the story of salvation to the ceremony. Obviously this is a unique type of celebration, but definitely food for thought.

In America today, many do not consider this a “Holy Week” at all, certainly their right as well.  For me, Passover is a wonderful picture of  God’s atonement for His people and His deliverance of us all  from the bondage of sin, prejudice, and hatred. This is something we could all celebrate every day as we must share this planet together peacefully.

Whether Jewish, Christian,  other, or “nothing,” I do hope you take this time to seek and explore for yourself. My search took me a long time in my life’s quest; but what a difference it made for me – literally life and death.


Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D., here.


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