Contact: Ari Lapin, American Alliance of Jews and Christians, 888-722-2441
MEDIA ADVISORY, April 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Over 5,000 churches are planning to hold a Passover Seder this coming weekend. To this news, Jews react in two ways. Most of us are happy that our Christian friends are seeking the origins of their faith in Judaism; however some Jews condemn these Christian Seders.
Their criticism springs from three mistakes. First, they argue that Christians have no connection to the Passover Seder and that "The Last Supper" could not have been a Seder because the Seder observance didn't begin until about the year 70AD.
This astounding whopper betrays breathtaking Torah ignorance. The Seder observance began with the night that the Israelites left Egypt 3320 years ago. The book of Exodus clearly describes the Jews celebrating the first Seder night ever. Even Cecil B. DeMille, himself the child of a Jewish mother and a Christian father knew this. In his The Ten Commandments, he clearly depicted that first Seder night in Egypt. This tradition was well known because even Leonardo de Vinci's "Last Supper" clearly portrays a Seder observance. The Seder predates Christianity by eons.
The second mistake made by Jews who feel offended by Christians celebrating their own Seders is that they resuscitate one of the greatest lies in the entire lamentable catalog of anti-Semitic crime, one responsible for the deaths of countless Jews—the blood libel. Second only to the infamous forgery, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," the blood libel claimed that Jews chose Passover to express their deep-seated anti-Christianism. Horrifying pogroms would follow as murderous mobs became convinced that the Passover ritual was so anti-Christian that it required the blood of a Christian child.
With disturbing indifference to currently improving Jewish-Christian relationships, a Reform rabbi recently alleged in a Seattle Times column: "…the Seder developed in part as an anti-Christian polemic….the anti-Christian roots of the event are unmistakable." Were it not so irresponsible, the rabbi's assertion would be laughable. There are no anti-Christian roots to the Seder, let alone unmistakable ones, and I defy him to find one.
The final mistake made by Jews resentful about church Seders, is to view Christians as somehow stealing, or to use one rabbi's term "co-opting" Judaism for their own purposes. This is almost as if they would insist that only Jews may benefit from Jonas Salk's polio vaccine because it was a Jew who brought it into existence.
The Seder celebrates the Exodus as the blueprint of all redemption. Even the ultimate Messianic redemption, for which Jews wait faithfully, will be modeled upon the redemption of the Israelites from Egypt. To paraphrase ancient Jewish wisdom: there are many Egypts, and in every generation many people are enslaved to all those Egypts. Though it is fundamentally Jewish, the redemption blueprint of the Seder can bring hope to everyone regardless of background.
Christians experiencing their own Seder-based celebrations are not stealing or co-opting anything. They are renewing their own faith by exploring its Jewish roots. In what possible way does this harm Jews? On the contrary, the happy development of ever more churches holding Seders can only help dissolve distrust and foster friendship between the faiths.
I invite my fellow Jews to be more concerned by Jews who aren't celebrating the Seder this year than by Christians who are.
Radio talk show host, Rabbi Daniel Lapin is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker who Newsweek Magazine named one of America's most influential rabbis. He is president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians.