Bahai News -- THE FLINT JOURNAL - Seder helps bring all faiths together

Seder helps bring all faiths together



Saturday, March 29, 2003

By George Jaksa

Flint Twp. - More than 80 adults and children shared food, drink and information Tuesday at Congregation Beth Israel as they joined in an interfaith seder, the feast commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.

The seder drew people of various faiths to the second annual program sponsored by the local Interfaith Clergy Council.

Participants, who sat at round dinner tables, followed the ancient story of the exodus from a text that took them through various rituals, led by Rabbi James Michaels of Congregation Beth Israel and Rabbi Karen Companez of Temple Beth El.

They sipped grape juice - substituted for the wine usually served at a Jewish Seder - ate parsley dipped in salt water, bit into the unleavened bread matzo and tasted horseradish as a bitter herb, all part of the Passover meal.

Participants read parts of the Passover text called the Haggada and sang songs in Hebrew and English.

Michaels said "seder" stands for the order of the re-enactment of the Jews' escaping slavery in Egypt and that the meal is part of the seder.

He also said there are many versions of the Haggada with many families having their own texts. The version used Tuesday included singing "Let My People Go," the black spiritual dating back to Civil War times.

Ken Kawasaki and his wife, Visakha, who operate a Buddhist Relief Mission in Flint, attended their first seder.

"I think it is important for all religious groups to get together and gain an understanding of one another," Ken Kawasaki said.

The Rev. Johnny Reed, pastor of the Life Enrichment Center in Flint Township, said the story of the Passover as related at the seder helps put the biblical account in historical perspective for Christians.

The Rev. Daniel Velez, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Owosso, found the seder experience so rewarding that he would like to invite his congregation to the next one.

"There is something about retelling and reliving the Passover that brings back the power of the story," he said.

Edris Taborn, program coordinator of Louhelen Baha'i School in Davison Township, said the seder helped her learn more about her Jewish heritage.

"It helps us to sit down and go through this kind of thing," she said. "It helps build an understanding of the Jewish people. It shows we have much more in common with other faiths than we talk about."

The seder program was videotaped for airing on Comcast Cablevision Channel 17 at 7:30 p.m. April 16 and 19.

*** George Jaksa covers religion. He can be reached at (810) 766-6332 or

©Copyright 2003, THE FLINT JOURNAL (MI, USA)

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