Why we shouldn't run a Passover Seder in Church

Published on Sat, 13 Apr 2019 13:33

Advice from the Council for Christians and Jews, the leading Christian-Jewish interfaith body in the UK, originally published as a Twitter thread.

At CCJ, we sometimes come across Christians wanting to run their own Christian Seders. Here's a thread on why we think that's a bad idea:

  • The Passover Seder is a ritual that developed from the first century CE until modern times. It is a central part of the living Jewish tradition.
  • Often, Christians are interested in the Seder through a desire to better understand the Last Supper. But the Last Supper almost definitely wasn't a Seder - Passover celebrations looked radically different 2,000 years ago.
  • Even if Jesus had attended a Seder, it would be nothing like a modern Jewish Seder. The Judaism of today, like Christianity, is a descendant of Second Temple Judaism that has evolved over time.
  • For Jews, the Seder is a retelling of the story of liberation from slavery in Egypt. By replacing the central motif of the Exodus with the Easter story, Christian Seders suggest that Judaism has been superseded by Christianity.
  • Similarly, using matzah (unleavened bread) and wine to symbolise Jesus' body and blood is replacing Jewish rituals with Christian theology.
  • Replacement theology is responsible for pogroms, massacres, and forced conversions of the Jewish people. Rather than Christianity replacing Judaism, both religions should be respected as separate living faiths.
  • For Jews, Christian Seders are a reminder of centuries of persecution for not accepting Jesus. Centring a Seder around Jesus places this harmful theology at the heart of an important Jewish festival.
  • Of course, sharing our traditions can be a valuable way to learn from each other. If you're Jewish, please do invite Christian friends to share in your Seder. And if you're Christian, attending a Jewish Seder as a respectful guest can help you learn about Judaism.
  • But the Seder won't help you to learn about Jesus. Judaism and Christianity have changed a lot in the last 2,000 years. This Paschal season, we can learn from each other's traditions as guests - without appropriation of each other's rituals.