Christians participate in Jewish Seder

Sunday, April 1, 2012
Jews for Jesus's Micha Cohen holds up a spoon, a feather and a napkin, which are used by Jewish men to ceremonially clean crumbs from the house in preparation for the Passover holiday, during a traditional Sader at La Croix Church Thursday, March 29. Cohen explained the traditions associated with Passover and how they are relevant to Christians as well as Jews at the event. (ADAM VOGLER)

On Thursday, La Croix United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau hosted a shortened version of a traditional Seder meal in conjunction with Jews for Jesus, a Messianic Jewish organization.

The word Seder means order. The Seder meal is the ritual Passover meal celebrated by people of Jewish descent, and it's the type of meal Jesus shared with the disciples at the Last Supper. Passover begins an eight-day holiday for the Jewish people.

The traditional Seder meal consists of specific foods, each item holding a special meaning and symbolic to the faith. The meal is eaten in a specific order and a script is followed as part of the ceremony and rituals. The light supper served before the Seder meal at La Croix was a kosher Jewish meal with recipes taken from the Jews for Jesus website.

"This is the first time I've experienced a Seder meal and the first time for the church to have one as well," said the Rev. Ron Watts, founding and senior pastor of La Croix.

To make this more of an authentic experience the church invited Micha Cohen, a missionary evangelist with the Chicago branch of Jews for Jesus, to be the featured speaker for the event. Cohen is a second generation Jews for Jesus missionary. He attended Moody Bible Institute. He and his family have been touring Missouri and Illinois the past few weeks presenting the Seder meal program to various groups.

One hundred and sixty people attended this sold out event. Most of those in attendance were from La Croix; however, church members were encouraged to invite friends from the community, and people of all ages were in attendance.

Watts said he was "excited to be able to offer this to the church." He added that he was "eager to experience it (the Seder meal) as opposed to just teaching about it, because you learn more by doing."

Jerry Driver said he was there because he was "curious about the customs of the Jewish faith and wanted to learn a little bit more about the Passover."

"Curiosity and wanting to know what the traditions of Passover would be like" is also why Janet Criddle attended.

"It makes you wonder why we as Christians no longer celebrate this tradition," said dinner attendee Paul Smollen.

The evening consisted of Cohen doing each step of the ceremony from the stage and then the individuals at each table participated. At times, Cohen spoke in Hebrew and then translated what he said into English. There was great interaction between Cohen and the audience.

Following the presentation, attendee Tammy Neal described the event as interesting.

"I learned a lot," said Neal.

Jeremy Mayhall, 9, attended the dinner with his mom.

"Actually, it was pretty cool," Mayhall said. "Eating was my favorite part, especially the eggs dipped in salt water."

Nancy Compos said she found the traditions of the Passover meal to be very informative and spiritual.

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