15 April 2020, The Tablet

Learning from our Jewish neighbours


Coronavirus pandemic

Learning from our Jewish neighbours

A Jewish family in Moscow gathers at the table for the Passover seder (feast)
Photo: PA/Tass, Mikhail Tereshchenko

 

While livestreamed liturgies were celebrated by priests alone in churches this Easter, Passover was being played out around the family table. A Jesuit priest, born of Jewish parents, suggests Catholics might learn from their Jewish neighbours that church and home can both be places of worship

Every year I am invited to participate in the Jewish Passover at the home of Jewish Orthodox friends in Jerusalem. I have learnt much about presiding at a Catholic liturgy from observing closely how the father and mother in wonderful harmony guide the family through the intricacies of the celebration.

As a Jewish-born Catholic priest, my presence in the middle of this family is an important expression of my complex identity, rooted in the Jewish people as a priest in the Church. However, this year, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was not able to attend the meal with my friends. Instead, for the first time in 41 years, the members of my own Jewish family congregated on Zoom, bringing together members of the family in Johannesburg, Berlin and Jerusalem, with my brother in Johannesburg presiding.

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