Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Differing Faiths Can Celebrate Together

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Differing Faiths Can Celebrate Together

Article excerpt

At a different time and in a different place, the confluence of Passover and Holy Week would be an easy occasion to reflect on the points of connection between Judaism and Christianity. People of differing faiths would note shared history and, perhaps, learn more about differences, as well. We are not at such a time or in such a place. Little, particularly when it comes to religion, is easy.

Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of the Christian Holy Week culminating in Easter Sunday services, was marred last week by violence in Egypt. Two Coptic churches were the targets of suicide bombers: 44 people were killed. The attacks increased fears of more acts of depravity by the Islamic State. And it could be violence against Christians, Jews or even against other Muslims.

Here in North Jersey, we have seen acts of anti-Semitism, houses of worship firebombed. And it seems across the nation, anti-Semitism is on the rise. Still, we have thankfully not experienced the widespread loss of life that turned a day of celebration in Egypt into one of mourning. So most of us today have the luxury to debate over trivial things like whether the Trump administration is properly staffed to man the traditional Easter egg hunt on the White House grounds.

Easter is not about colored eggs, jelly beans and Peeps. Nor is Passover just several days of ritual dinners. These religious holidays have meaning – they are rooted in communities of faith enduring and ultimately breaking free from oppression. The enslaved Jews of Egypt ultimately led out of bondage. Christians following the journey of Jesus from a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, to the cross and then to resurrection.

What we too often lose sight of is our freedom to embrace or reject these beliefs without fear of reprisal by the federal government. This past week, across America, people of faith were free to assemble in houses of worship and in private homes. …

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