For 28 years, the Easter holiday was standard procedure: visit family, eat a lot, and vaguely remember that Jesus bought the farm, rose from the dead, freaked out one or more of his disciples for 40 days, and started a new religion.
This year, all the sites, sounds, and smells of Easter (now celebrated with my in-laws) are the same…except this year, I’m a Jew.
We attended an Easter egg hunt for our kids at a local church and, while I wasn’t aware of any strange looks due to my kippah, I’m sure the folks there noticed.
“What’s a Jew doing at an Easter egg hunt?” they might have thought.
Or maybe not, but just being here to celebrate Easter with my family strikes me as odd because of all the religious holidays, Easter is by far the one which thumbs its nose at Judaism.
Easter is where Christianity as a Jewish sect that believed Jesus to be the mashiach (messiah) ends and a new faith begins. It it the supposed resurrection that plants the seed of belief in Jesus as an at least partially divine being.
To make matters worse, the family ties between these faith are forever strained by the idea that the Jews killed Jesus and this famous line from the Gospel of Matthew 27:25:
His (Jesus) blood be upon us and our children.
Wow, kinda harsh.
Despite many Biblical scholars casting doubt on this (and other passages) being said, the die was cast for a rocky relationship between Judaism and Christianity…an animosity that lasts to this day in the form of bigotry and hatred against the Jews.
Now that I am within this faith community, I certainly feel out of place among folks celebrating Easter. I’ve studied the arguments against Jesus being the mashiach and can’t help the urge to speak up on the subject. Project Conversion stimulates a sympathetic reaction in me as I identify with the faith of each month. So here I am alone in a house full of, well, blasphemous idol worshippers.
Oh no he didn’t.
You bet your matzah balls I did.
This isn’t to say that Jews in general do not respect and tolerate other faiths. In fact, given Jewish history, they are often the first to speak up for equality. But this doesn’t mean they have to agree with that faith. Once upon a time, I was a Christian (a jerk, to be honest), but now that I look at Easter from the other side, the view is much different. Of course I’m not judgemental toward those who celebrate this day, but we will always see things differently when we force ourselves to walk in the shoes of another.
The important thing is finding common ground. I am here with my in-laws (folks I love dearly) and just because they celebrate a holiday that contradicts my current belief doesn’t mean I cannot function in the same room with them. This goes for communities everywhere. Stop focusing on the nuances–those differences that create enemies out of people and nations–when really these differences are simply a matter of personal faith. Why not bring ourselves to the lowest common denominator with one another. So we don’t agree that Jesus is God incarnate? Fine, but we both like to watch football, right? Let’s start with that and work our way up to peace that transcends differences.
In the meantime, I’ll say a little prayer tonight for my heathen family as I lite the Shabbat candles.
Shalom and play nice.