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The Passover Seder

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									The Jewish Faith
        There are presently 12-14million Jews, and approximately 6 million in the US.
Their origin is about 1800CBE with the biblical account of the Birth of Judaism. The
Menneptah Slete is the earliest archaeological record around 1200BCE. The historical
definition of who is a jew dates back to the Babylonian Talmud. According to
Halakha(Jewish Law), only a convert or a child born to a Jewish mother is a Jew.
Children are asked if they want to remain a Jew at the age of 12 (Batmitzvah) for girls
and the age of 13 (Barmitzvah) for boys.
        There is no formal statement of faith such as a creed or catechism. The Shema, a
prayer a religious Jew offers daily is the only Jewish Creed. They have no Pope or central
religious authority. The Jewish authority comes from the sacred writings, laws and
traditions. Judaism affirms the oneness of God and stresses performance of deeds or
commandments rather than adherence to a belief system.
        The Principles of Faith
    1. Monotheism
    2. God is Creator of the Universe
    3. God is One
    4. God is all powerful
    5. God is personal(cares for humanity)
    6. God is non-physical, non-corporeal and eternal
    7. To God alone may one offer prayer(no intermediaries)
      Scripture
        Tanakh and Talmud are the holy books. Tanakh contains the Torah 9books of
Moses or the first five books of the Old Testament), the prophets and
Ketuvim(“writings”). Jewish oral law – Mishnah, Tosefta, midrashim and two Talmuds.
Moses was the greatest prophet and they believe what he said was true. The Torah
chronicles the history of the Hebrews and contains the commandments the Jews must
follow.
    8. Reward and Punishment-God will reward those who follow His commandments
        and punish those that don’t.
    9. Israel is chosen for a specific purpose
    10. There will be a Jewish Messiah who will rule Jews independently
    11. The soul is pure at birth, there is no original sin


The Passover Seder

         I attended a Seder Meal as my interfaith activity. The Seder meal takes place the
first 2 nights of the 8-day holiday. The gathering is of the whole family and friends. In
preparation the home is cleaned and cleared of all yeast foods, called hametz. Is either
eaten before Passover or given to friends and neighbors. Only special foods, utensils and
dishes can be used. The dishes are taken out of storage similar to Christmas dishes.
Foods must be Kosher. No foods containing yeast or grains are eaten. Matzoh is eaten in
their place. This commemorates when the Israelites fled quickly into the desert with no
time for the breads to rise and they baked the dough into hard crackers in the desert sun.
        The Seder table has a centerpiece of which is the Seder plaate containing the five
foods that remind the Jews of the struggle of the Israelites in their journey to freedom.
Three pieces of Matzoh, in a cloth sleeve called the Matzoh cover are in the center. The
middle matzoh is removed before the meal begins and broken in half. One half is
returned to the cover, the other, the Afikomen, is hiddent to be hunted by the children at
the end of the meal. The child that finds it gets an special prize. The Seder plate contains
the following five foods:
        Haroseth is a mixture of chopped walnuts, wine, cinnamon and apples that
represents the mortar used to assemble the Pharoah’s bricks.
        Parsley symbolizes springtime and is dipped in saltwater to remind them of the
tears of the Jewish slaves.
        Egg is a symbol of springtime.
        Shank bone is a symbol of the sacrificial lamb offering which can come from the
meal the family is eating such as a leg of lamb or turkey.
        Bitter herbs reflect the bitter affliction of slavery.
        During the dinner four glasses of wine are poured to represent the four stages of
the Exodus: freedom, deliverance, redemption and release. A fifth glass of wine is
poured and placed on the Seder table. This is the cup of Elijah. During the Seder the
door of the home is opened to invite the prophet in. The dinner is over when the children
have found the Afikomen and everyone has eaten a piece.
        At the Seder dinner the Book of Exodus is read and the children are asked why
the night is different, why they eat each food (as it is eaten), why they open the doors and
why they hide the Afikomen. Traditionally the youngest child is asked these questions.

       Kay Fraley

								
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