Saturday, April 18, 2009

Feast of the Messiah

I can't believe I went on the last day of Passover to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City to observe the traditional Jewish Seudat Moshiach (Feast of the Messiah). My oldest daughter wanted me to come to her house at 5:00 pm to have tea on her new patio set and I was really fatigued from the holiday itself. But I can always have tea with her, when she decides to stay home one weekend instead of always going to her mother-in-laws. This is a "once in a messianic" opportunity for me to celebrate the last day of Passover with Moslem, Christians and Jews. Just what the messiah ordered.

I hitched a ride with my son-in-law and daughter back to Jerusalem and the weather got nasty. The heat wave was over and I wasn't expecting it to be so over in a matter of hours. I was freezing, even though I wore a black shawl which I nearly forgot in my rush to get out of the house.

Yaqub was the first to arrive on his bike, and seeing my shivering, he gallantly loaned me his warm coat while we waited for the others just inside Jaffa Gate of the Old City. The others who showed up were a real mixed crowd. Some even freaked me out, like the Chassidic-looking guy in a shtreimel (fur hat) and black satin overcoat. Was he going to be joining us in the Church? On Passover? Others were some familiar faces and unfamiliar faces - a mix of religious, secular,hippies, straighties, musicians and a group of Christians from EAPPI,from the World Council of Churches. We all trudged off together to the Church of the Redeemer, which I had never been to before. We were 20 minutes early and no one was letting us in. I reminded people that this was a German church, not an Israeli one, and Time is taken very seriously in Germany - if you say you are going to be there at 6:00 then don't bother showing up 20 minutes early. The Chassidic-looking guy sat down at a table at a cafe across the way with one of the secular women, of course not ordering anything because it was still Passover and one can't buy anything or eat things not kosher for Passover. The Arab cafe owner kept on coming out to look at him, probably not believing what he was seeing. No one who looks like THAT ever sits in his cafe, I can assure you.

We were finally let in and a hoard of other people joined us. I thought perhaps some German tourists who were at the church may have joined us accidentally and then decided to stay for the 3 hours we were there. I'm not sure. Then there was a group who did join us from the Walk about Love - a two month walk all around the Holy Land, whose participants were young hippies from all over the world.

Eliyahu from Jerusalem Peacemakers hosted this event and brought just enough matza and food for like 50 people. But there seemed to be around 150 people crammed into the chapel and he asked that people take small amounts when it came time to partake of the Feast. Somehow, miraculously, there was enough for everyone - quinoa salad, fruits, matzas, drinks, salads - with some food leftover. I don't remember what everyone spoke about - but the Pastor spoke, Ibrahaim spoke, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhara spoke, and someone called Gershon gave over the Jewish perspective. And why not? It was our holiday after all. Miriam Irons and Aliza Hava sang - getting us to sing the halleluyas with them. But in general, the evening reflected the unity that we should feel at a time like this, and we all seemed to have a feeling that the energy of this united-ness actually expanded outward to the rest of Jerusalem and then to the rest of the country. We all hope for a messianic age where we can share our lives together with all peoples. But many of us are living in that era right now.


Ray Errol Fox said...

Reading from "Jerusalem Wanderings" and then "Funny shit," I couldn't help but feel you'll enjoy the humor (albeit sometimes dark) in "Once Upon a Passover" and "Mickey Mouse's Pass-over in the Holy Land" at I'm already enjoying sharing them with you.

Avi Kolko said...

You seem to have no problems with Muslims and Christians. Only with Hassidic Jews. Shame on you!

jerusalemgypsy said...

I don't have any problems with Hassidic Jews, like the one I met here, who is open minded enough to meet with Christians and Moslems and secular Jews in a Church on Pesach!!! Not at all, sir.