On Monday, April 14 and Wednesday, April 15, 2014, sixteen families, representing the Hebrew speaking Catholic communities in Israel, met in Tiberias to experience together the Jewish Passover and the Christian preparation for Easter.

passover_tiberias

Families representing the Hebrew speaking Catholic kehillot gathered at Casa Nova in Tiberias, alongside the Saint Peter parish church. Here they were once again warmly welcomed by the community that animates the place, Koinonia John the Baptist. They had decided to meet here at exactly this time in order to reflect together on the Jewish Feast of Passover in the lives of the Hebrew speaking Catholic community in Israel, as it prepares for Easter.

Throughout Israel, Jewish families gathered for the seder meal, and in Tiberias a group of over seventy gathered in the dining room to begin their own meal. The evening began with the singing of Psalm 114. Father David, responsible for the Hebrew speaking Catholics in Israel, then explained the importance of reflecting on Passover in order to better understand Jesus the Jew and in order to better understand the early Church but also to better understand our children, integrated into the Jewish Israeli school system. The first part of the learning experience took the form of a quiz, drawn up by Kirill, which pitted parents against children. The questions were drawn from both the Passover traditions and the events of Holy Week. At the end of the quiz, Father David presented the importance of the main elements of the Passover meal, a meal that Jesus would have participated in throughout his life and which marked his last days. The five elements Father David underlined were: Telling the story, the unleavened bread, the bitter herbs, the Passover sacrifice and the green vegetables. This was followed by a sumptuous meal, eaten in joy and friendship.

passover_mass

The following day, while Kirill and Claudia occupied the children with games and other activities, the parents continued their learning experience. They viewed a film made on the history of relations between Jews and Christians, made by a Jewish film maker, “I am Joseph your Brother”. The film traces the relations between Jews and Christians, especially the revolutionary changes that occurred as a result of the Second Vatican Council. This was followed by a very lively discussion on Jewish-Christian relations in the State of Israel today.

The celebration of mass was followed by lunch and a time to rest.

Activities resumed at 15.30. The adults were introduced to the prayer book that is being composed and will soon be published. One of the initiators of the project, Benny, seminarian of the Vicariate, was on hand to present the book and answer questions. After some other practical points, the discussion on Jewish-Christian relations resumed and it was strongly felt that our community must be more engaged in this discussion.

passover_promenade

The families departed, consoled by the knowledge that we would meet again for another family encounter in the Advent season.