MINNEAPOLIS — About 350 people braved the cold and sleet to attend the annual Passover Sedar and feast at St. Joan of Arc Church in south Minneapolis last night. The event combines many familiar elements of a traditional seder with some Christian ritual at the end. Peace, brotherhood and let’s celebrate spring if it ever happens were the themes. It’s definitely “sedar light” and somewhat raucous when held in this cavernous gymnasium.
I was introduced to the Rev. Fr. Jim Debracy as at the “Jewish” guy and after the event he wanted my evaluation which of course was positive. Debracy impressed me with his 1980s stay in Jerusalem where he studied scripture and was recruited off the street to join a Saturday morning service at a local synagogue. He was happy to do it. Last night Debracy sported the embroidered yamicah that he bought in the Holy Land.
Joan of Arc is as progressive as the Catholics get in the Northland and those I met were a friendly lot. Also attending was Lisa, who is Jewish and a student with me in the UofM OLLI classes.
Much traditional Jewish music added to the merriment which included the ritual folk dance that we all know accompanied by the accordion player from the Gashaus restaurant. “Let My People Go,” which will be reprised Saturday for the Or Emet Jewish Humanist Sedar, was part of the group sing- along. To recognize the inclusion of gays and lesbians at Joan of Arc, orange slices were on the tables and this will be part of Or Emet’s Sedar as well at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis.
I would like to think that the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” has sparked Christian awareness of Jewish traditions, particularly with anthems like “Tradition” and “To Life.” So it was no coincidence that last week a conservative Christian congregation in suburban Seattle had a successful run with “Fiddler” and it was a hit here at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater and Edina High School in recent months. It brings a message that we like to hear repeatedly.