Seder, Christian

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Seder, Christian

Since the 1970s, a growing number of Christians have begun celebrating the Seder, the traditional Jewish Passover night, often giving it a Christian meaning. Christians who celebrate the Seder relate to its meaning in a variety of manners. Liberal Protestants and Roman Catholics have been motivated by the spirit of interfaith dialogue that came about in the 1960s and 1970s, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. They have organized Seder demonstrations, or have joined with Jewish congregations in celebrating the Seder. Many Unitarian congregations have adopted Passover in addition to other religious traditions' holidays as part of their pluralistic character. Conservative evangelical Christians have also shown interest in the Seder, but from a different perspective. Evangelical missionary organizations such as the Chosen People Ministries or Jews for Jesus have organized Seder demonstrations in conservative churches as a means of promoting interest in the Jewish people and their role in history, as well as gaining support for the missionaries' own work. Jews who believe in Jesus, both in separate messianic Jewish congregations and in evangelical churches, have been celebrating the Seder as well.

A number of Christian evangelical organizations and congregations, such as Jews for Jesus, have written their own Haggadot, the liturgical literature for Passover celebrations. Such evangelical Haggadot often omit the Midrashic passages that quote from the sayings of Mishnaic rabbis, instead incorporating the Christian faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God into the text. They view the three matzos on the Seder plate as representing the Trinity, with the disappearance of the broken middle matzo at the beginning of the Seder and its reappearance at the end as symbolizing Jesus' death and resurrection.

The Christian celebration of the Seder signifies a break with traditional Christian views of Judaism and a growing interest by Protestants and Catholics in the Jews and the Jewish religious heritage.


See alsoEcumenical Movement; Evangelical Christianity; Food; Jewish Observance; Jews for Jesus; Judaism; Judeo-Christian Tradition; Mainline Protestantism; Practice; Ritual; Roman Catholicism.

Bibliography

Cohen Nussbaum, Debra. "Christianizing the Passover Seder." Sh'ma 29, no. 560 (1999): 1–2.

Feher, Shoshanah. Passing Over Easter. 1998.

Fisher, Eugene J. "Seders in Catholic Parishes." Sh'ma 29, no. 560 (1999): 4–5.

Lipson, Eric Peter. Passover Haggadah: A Messianic Celebration. 1986.

Sevener, Harold A., ed. Passover Haggadah for BiblicalJews and Christians. 1987.

Somerville, Robert S. "Christians Celebrating the Passover Seder." Sh'ma 29, no. 560 (1999): 2–3.

Yaakov S. Ariel