Go ahead, be Jewish the way you want.
This was the subtitle of the haggadah that lead us through storytelling, remembering, praying and reflecting Tuesday night. Of course, I particularly got a kick out of the subtitle because, well, I am not Jewish at all. So why would I, a Presbyterian pastor, gather with a group of students and staff—only two of whom are Jewish—on a Jesuit campus to celebrate Passover?
Well it all started with a little small group. This semester I have had the pleasure of spending Wednesday mornings with a group of young ladies reading Scripture from all of our traditions. A Muslim, a Jew, a Protestant and a Catholic gather around food and coffee every week. Sounds like the start of a good joke, but it has truly been the start of a community. Each week, using resources from a method called Scriptural Reasoning, we read three texts from three religions on a common theme. And then we see what happens.
As the chatter exploded over the slow roasted brisket, as gefilte fish jokes pass through the food line, as the generosity of two students blessed us all, it became clearer what happens. Praying and eating together, it was the students who set the tone. They taught us how to find our voices, how to tell the story in a way that matters to our lives now. They taught us how the find holy ground that emphasizes our shared human dignity while respected our unique stories. Their semester gathering over holy words has given them a different relationship to their sacred texts and to each other, an orientation that is no longer just enriching their own lives, it is blessing the wider campus community.
We dipped our fingers in Manischewitz and let the drops fall on our plates. “As we rejoice in our deliverance from slavery, we acknowledge that our freedom was hard-earned. We regret that freedom came at the cost of others’ suffering, for we are all made in the image of God.” Around that table, we saw the image of God in each person, rather than being divided by our differences. When we gather to read Scripture each week, we see the image of God in each person, and we encourage each other to see the image of God imprinted on ourselves.
Isn’t that what freedom is all about?
*If you are looking for a fantastic haggadah, visit JewishBoston.com for the resources we enjoyed.
*Many thanks to Lauren Boxell and Kelsey Witzgall for last night’s dinner, and to Lauren, Kelsey and Sarah Abu-Rashed for reading Scripture together this semester.
Abby King-Kaiser is an irreverent Reverend in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who is pretty pleased to be a participant in Holy Week this year rather than a leader. She is delighted to have the chance to sit in a pew and soak in new life this week.