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Many Jews are fed up with Christians holding Passover Seders

Over the past few Passover holidays, Talia Liben Yarmush has heard from Christians who hold seders, the lavish ritual meals that Jews partake in on the first two nights of Passover to celebrate the liberation of ancient Jews from slavery in Egypt. And it makes her angry.

“It pissed me off and annoyed me every time I saw a ‘seder’ pole in which the shank bone represented Jesus [it’s meant to represent the sacrificial lamb]or the afikoman” — a piece of matzah hidden to keep kids occupied — “represented the resurrection,” she told the Post.

Ahead of this Passover celebration, which begins Friday, Yarmush, a social media strategist and author, took to Facebook Post your own preemptive strike:

Talia Liben Yarmush and her family before her 2020 Passover Seder.
Talia Liben Yarmush and her family before her 2020 Passover Seder.

Dear Christian friends,
Please, please don’t have your own seders.
Passover is one of the most important Jewish holidays and commemorates, among other things, the founding of our people. We are a people who have been persecuted time and time again, and on Passover we remember how God redeemed us from slavery, how God gave us the Torah, and how we became both a nation and a religion.
I would like to remind you that Christians have historically murdered Jews on Passover in retaliation for the false accusation of using the blood of Christian babies to make our matzah – a terrible blood libel some still believe today….
please don’t do it
You have your own holidays. They have rich and beautiful traditions. I promise to respect her.
Please reply.
(Now, if you’re invited to a Passover Seder by a Jewish friend, that’s a whole different story. Go, enjoy, ask questions.)
Many thanks from your neighborhood Jew.”

www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10100333628901904&set=a.571398131504
Facebook
Yarmush posted an appeal on Facebook asking Christian friends not to co-opt Seder meals.  This is her own 2021 Seder plate.
Yarmush posted an appeal on Facebook asking Christian friends not to co-opt Seder meals. This is her own 2021 Seder plate.

Her post was shared over 1,000 times and garnered hundreds of comments, with Jews calling Christian co-opting of the Seder “cultural appropriation” and a “creepy absurdity.” One commenter claimed to have seen a church flyer for a Christian Seder that had a table with a ham on it. (Ham is forbidden for Jews.)

Novelist Judy Mollen Walters, who wrote “The Lies You Want to Hear,” told the Post that she had a Christian friend who insisted on having a Passover seder every year.

“I’ve had frustrating conversations with her about it several times and it made me feel like I didn’t want to be friends with her,” she said. “It bothered me because it’s a misappropriation of Jewish culture and religion and she refused to even look at it that way.”

You are no longer friends.

Judy Mollen Walters, whose Seder table is pictured here, is frustrated that Christians are abusing Jewish culture.
Judy Mollen Walters, whose Seder table is pictured here, is frustrated that Christians are abusing Jewish culture.

Interest in the Seder is growing among mainstream Christians, said Grace Ruiter, the digital content coordinator for the Reformed Church in America, a Protestant organization with several hundred member churches.

“I think it appeals to people because it’s a way to honor and understand the Jewish faith and see how that can deepen your understanding of the Christian faith. Putting the focus on food and storytelling as a family is really beautiful,” she told the Post.

Some Protestants claim it is a unique tradition, like Maundy Thursday, a meal in celebration of the Last Supper (which some mistakenly believe was actually a Passover Seder).

In 2020, to help people connect during the pandemic, Ruiter wrote a blog post on the church’s website titled What can the Seder teach us about the sacrament? This includes advice such as “Try using the Seder storytelling approach to teach children about communion. Gather with your family for a feast of bread and grape juice and use the Seder format to retell the story of the Last Supper.”

And there are Jews who defend this practice, saying they celebrate Christmas and have “Hanukah bushes.” But for many Christians, the Seders alignment has struck a chord.

Grace Ruiter, digital content coordinator for Reformed Church in America, wrote this blog post with advice for a Christian Seder, but admits she worries about the line between admiration and appropriation.
Grace Ruiter, digital content coordinator for Reformed Church in America, wrote this blog post with advice for a Christian Seder, but admits she worries about the line between admiration and appropriation.
The traditional Seder plate features six elements that serve as symbolism to tell the story of the Jews' exodus from Egypt.
The traditional Seder plate features six elements that serve as symbolism to tell the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.
Shutterstock / dnaveh

Ruiter said she worries about the line between admiration and appropriation. When she does it at home, “I hesitate to call it ‘seder,’ saying instead ‘based on seder experience.’ I try to incorporate parts of a Seder rather than adopting it,” she said. “It’s not something we can own. It’s a Jewish thing. It’s something we can learn from and appreciate and respect.”

Others were forced to change their minds.

Tara Ziegmont, author of FeelsLikeHomeBlog.com (“Christian Inspiration and Family Fun”), was recognized last year for her 2015 post entitled ” How to Have a Christian Passover Meal With Kids (Even Little Ones!).

“I thought it was a beautiful expression and acknowledgment of our common heritage with the Jewish faith – the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt,” she wrote in the introduction to the now-amended post. Because last year she “was fired upon by a small group of very vocal Jews who found my Christian Passover deeply upsetting. They followed me on Twitter and left hateful comments here…”

Blogger Tara Ziegmont changed her mind about hosting a Christian Seder after a backlash.
Blogger Tara Ziegmont changed her mind about hosting a Christian Seder after a backlash.
feellikehomeblog.com

Now she writes, “If you decide to hold a Seder, keep to the sacred and time-honored traditions and do not try to cheat Jesus.” (Asked to comment on this story, Ziegmont referred the reporter to hers blog.)

Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, has another suggestion for Christians who want to adopt Jewish practices.

“If gentiles of good will wish to ‘borrow’ things from Judaism, they should consider less charged practices, such as avoiding Lashon Hora [negative speech about others]or praying to God three times a day or giving thanks before and after eating,” he told the Post.

Or he suggested, “Consider creating a ritual to confront and reject the anti-Semitism that has infected much of the Christian world in the past.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/many-jews-are-fed-up-with-christians-hosting-passover-seders/ Many Jews are fed up with Christians holding Passover Seders

DUSTIN JONES

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