Seder PlateImage from Wikimedia Commons

Seder Plate
Image from Wikimedia Commons

“As long as we’re going to start being neighbors and working together on PTA committees, why not understand each other a little before we even meet?”

–Dr. Victor Ludlow, quoted from The Jewish Daily Forward

With each generation the world shrinks and habitual boundaries disappear.  My grandparents lived in very homogenous neighborhoods, and today we can talk everyday with friends we’ve never met on the other side of the world.  One reality of this is an expanding awareness that people all over are different, and somehow underneath we are also the same.  Learning and appreciating our differences help make our friendships deeper and more meaningful, and our own lives richer as well.

One thing our family likes to do is learn about the holidays of other faiths – learn about it from those who celebrate it – and sometimes celebrate it ourselves.  I read one person’s writing that they felt this was offensive, that it showed disrespect for both faiths; I think my friend David Sterling would disagree – his Holy Days/Holidays festival at Mall of America every year is always a big favorite of the many faiths participating and attending.  When done with honest curiosity, respect, and reverence, shared observance is uplifting and helps us remember we are part of a much bigger family.

My wife’s parents have gone to Jerusalem a number of times, and brought back a beautiful Seder plate from one trip.  My kids wanted to know what it meant so we did some research about Passover.  I found some cool sites on how to conduct a Seder, and how to prepare the Sedar Plate.  I asked a few Jewish friends if it would be okay for Christians to observe Passover, and they all thought it would be a good idea (one friend said, “But it will make us lose our mystery!” and laughed).  “When your heart is reverent and you are trying to learn, it will only be a blessing to you,” another friend added.

Arun Gandhi related that many times his grandfather Mohandas was asked his religion.  The answer (Arun said) was always the same.  “I may be Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, or Buddhist, but I can be none of these without first and foremost being human.”

A wonderful reflection to have on any holiday.