On Sunday, the Pacifica Institute welcomed teens of Malibu synagogue and Pacifica Teens, along with Rabbi Judith Halevi and the parents of the teens from Malibu Synagogue for Passover celebration. Rabbi Judith walked guests through The Order of Seder and everyone joined in the practice. It was a unique, hands-on experience for the Muslims and a special opportunity for the Jewish guests to demonstrate their Passover celebration.
Before the passover celebration, there was the noon call to prayer in traditional format. Afterwards muslim teens and adults gathered to perform the noon prayer in congregation in one corner of the hall facing Qibla- direction to Makka where the passover celebration was going to take place. With Imam leading the prayers, the muslim congregation performed the noon prayer and then held the traditional praises of God usually done after the prayers which ended with duas offered to the Creator of the Universe for understanding, learning from each other and respect with the Jewish teens and adults watching the prayer as it was performed.
Then Atilla Kahveci from Pacifica Institute praised the efforts of Malibu Synagogue and Pacifica teens for coming together regulary for joint projects through the mentoring of Michelle Droeger from Malibu Synagogue. Asiye Kilic has also been partnering in this teen project from Pacifica Institute.
Mr Kahveci walked the guests through the steps of the noon prayer and what it meant for muslims praying five times a day and that Moses, the prophet of Judaism was a determining factor in the number of prayers performed daily by Muslims.
Then Rabbi Judith Halevi read passages from the Haggadah, which is the text recited at the Seder on the first two nights of Passover. About three thousand years ago, ancient Israelites fused a shepherds’ spring celebration of the birthing of lambs and a farmers’ spring celebration of the sprouting of barley into a spring celebration of their liberation from slavery and the downfall of a tyrant at the hands of God, the Breath of Life. They celebrated the overthrow of tyrants by gathering a million strong, bringing barley-bread and newborn lambs to the Temple in Jerusalem.
And about two thousand years ago, the Jewish people reshaped that celebration into a Seder, a story and meal that could be eaten and told at home. The Passover story and celebration entered the memory stream of Christianity as well, through the Palm Sunday demonstrations of a group of Jews who came to ancient Jerusalem one spring, part of the general Jewish ferment against the Roman Empire. This particular group was led by Jesus, waving palm branches as a symbol of resistance. It entered Christianity more deeply still through the teachings of Jesus in the Last Supper, which seems to have been a Passover Seder.
The coming together of Jewish and Muslim teens and parents came to an end with the celebration of both traditions sharing the same space and being witnessed by the counter parts of the other religion and with the remembrance of sharing around the dinner table just before the passover celebration and right after the noon prayer, what kind of religious materials respective tradition practitioners use to offer prayers to God.