Happy Pessach and Easter

I am writing this today from sunny Jerusalem. President Obama arrived a few hours ago. Many of the streets have been closed, which doesn’t do a lot to endear him to the pre-Pesach shoppers, taxi drivers and so on. But we do wish him well and hope that his visit will bear some fruit in terms of re-starting the more or less moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Pesach (Passover) is definitely the Jewish festival that requires the most intense preparation.  Since I will be hosting the Seder at my home, I have to have everything ready in time to start cooking on Sunday. That involves lots of cleaning, shopping and completely “turning over” my kitchen, since I have to use different pots and pans, dishes, cutlery, etc. from those I use the rest of the year.  Of course, there are also spiritual and educational preparations, but often they end up being less intense than the physical ones.

My Christian friends are preparing for Easter in a more spiritual way. Some of them began weeks ago, with the coming of Lent. In the case of both Pesach and Easter, each festival is a spiritual climax for those who celebrate it. Both are spring festivals (with apologies to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere!) In both cases, we celebrate with eggs for their symbolic value.  Both are a kind of renewal: Pesach is a festival of freedom and liberation; Easter, of resurrection.

All of this, as I’ve said many times, relates to what I mentioned earlier in terms of the peace process.  Religious people can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, by emphasizing renewal and hope. Soon we will share with you a document we started working on last month at our Board meeting in London. It looks at what the contribution of inter-religious dialogue might be, to furthering the peace in the Middle East.

I wish both Jews and Christians happy, healthy and meaningful holidays!

Debbie Weissman, President, ICCJ