Catholic Jewish Seder
"We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of
a future not our own."
- Oscar Romero, Salvadoran Archbishop
A group of nuns sing passover songs with Hebrew School students.
Boston has always been a place of intense tension between he Catholic and Jewish community. Throughout the worldwide Catholic community anti-Semitic values have permeated its teachings for centuries. Christianity had been responsible for the portrayal of Jews as "Christ-killers." The idea that Jews killed a figure whom Christians believe is the son of God led to Jews being "God-haters" as well. This strong foundation of hate has led to a number of other stereotypes that Jews have been labeled. Because one of the only available jobs during the middle ages was as a moneylender, subsequently Jews are considered cheap and hord money. It is also believed that Jews control the banks, the media, that the poison the wells of Christian communities, that they kill Christians for use of their blood in Passover rituals. "The very statement of "the Jews" assumes that there is a monolithic group," writes Lenny in his book called Lift up your Voice. However, this is not that case. Just as there are Catholic doctors, lawyers, dentists, politicians, actors, criminals, homeless, atheletes, so too are there Jews from every part of the professional world. To stereotype Jews is to say that they are identical robots programed to act and think identically.
Because of the dire situation between Catholics and Jews, even twenty years ago, Lenny knew that it was important to reach out to the Catholic community and begin to talk, share and teach them about our tradition, and learn about theirs. Because of Lenny's work with leaders from the Catholic community in Boston, mainly Cardinal Bernard Law and Bishop Murphy, Jewish-Catholic relations are slowly turning into relationships. Cardinal Law has strongly declared that anti-Semitism is "inconsistent" with the teachings of Jesus Christ." An even stronger message was sent by the Second Vatican Counci's statement "Nostra Aetate," which specifically rejected the accusation rooted in the Gospels that "the Jews" killed Jesus. While public announcements of alliance and compassion are gradifying, Lenny always believed that real change happened on an individual level. The Catholic-Jewish Seder came out of this idea.
Originally, the idea sprung from Lenny's belief that both the Irish and Jewish community were strong political minorities in Boston. His feeling was that if the two groups could unite on a few specific issues than our politcical position would be that much stronger. The sedar has been taking place for a number of years. Every year its location changes from a temple to a church. This spring, on April 16th, 2000, at the Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury, about three hundred people gathered for around seder tables to share the Passover tradition. Led by Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, Bishop Richard Malone, Reverend Paul Rouse, Reverend David Michael, and Rabbi David Paskin, the traditional passover feast was celebrated. What is amazing about this interfaith passover seder is that it is not Jewish seder that Catholics attend. Both Jews and Catholics participate equally in order to create an authentic interfaith ceremony.
For excerpts from the Hagaddah of the Catholic Jewish Seder Click here:
1. Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero
2. Be Free: Reflections of Redemption by Bishop Daniel Pilarzyk
3. An Awful Beauty by David Moses
4. Anne Frank's Diary: Saturday, July 15, 1944