Thursday, April 2, 2015

Faith in our Community

Peace, Shalom 

This week, Christians of faith are in the closing days of the forty-day season of Lent, a period of preparation for Good Friday and the celebration of Easter Sunday.  

Concurrently, Friday opens the high holy days of Passover (Pesach), (April 3-11), when Jews turn to their historic and continuing hope, trust and faith in God's deliverance.

I am very proud and privileged to introduce a short series of faith-based voices of local clergy of Judeo-Christian faiths who have been gracious enough to share a few of their personal reflections with our community. We begin today with a reflection of faith by Rabbi Shelley Kovar-Becker of Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation of Southington. We will continue each day with other familiar voices in our faith community. Wishing you all the most blessed holy days.                                               E. Richard Fortunato 

Rabbi Shelley Kovar

Jewish history tells us that we were an agricultural people.  Many of our holidays celebrate planting and harvesting.  In aviv, the spring of the year, in the month of Nisan we celebrate pesach (Passover).  Spring is a beginning for the earth.  It is a visible celebration of God's renewal of creation.  It is the time of the Jews rising up against pharaoh and tasting freedom; it is the beginning of Jewish peoplehood.  Passover is called zeman herutainu (time of our freedom) or chag ha'aviv (holiday of spring).  

One of the most important aspects of this holiday is that each Jew experiences the festival as if he or she were personally delivered from Egyptian bondage.  Pesach should have an element of the spiritual because it happened to us individually and collectively.  One way in which we do this is to a have a distinctive meal, the seder.  Seder means order and so our repast is consumed in a precise way as a special book, the haggadah, instructs us, to intensify the drama of the story as it unfolds.  Thus we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch the trial of slavery and the triumph of freedom.

During the holiday we do not eat leavened products, selling off, giving away or separating such food-stuffs for that time.  In our house we designate a kitchen cabinet for leaven, “chamatz”, putting all the non-pesach food into it, and sealing it with masking tape.  We read labels carefully and try, with creative meal planning, to observe pesach to the best of our ability.  Its tough giving up pizza and Chinese food and most munchies and cookies but it is also something we do to heighten our observance.  

Especially with regard to our modern world, pesach teaches Jews to hold dear, study, and share this concept of freedom, which we must value and practice in every generation.  We offer this thought to all to become more sensitized to in-justice everywhere.  As pesach approaches we wish each other a zeesen pesach, chag pesach samayach, a joyous Passover.

Rabbi Shelley Kovar Becker,  Gishrei Shalom Jewish Congregation

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