Temple Beth El rabbi to lead Passover Seder at Catholic church

MANATEE — Temple Beth El Rabbi Harold Caminker said he was thrilled when officials at Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles Catholic Church recently asked him to lead an interfaith Passover Seder there.

The result is a full Passover Seder to be held at 7 p.m. today in the church fellowship hall, 2850 75th St. W., Bradenton, said Delores Clark, a member of Saints Peter and Paul.

Clergy and members from Temple Beth El, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Holmes Beach and Saints Peter and Paul will all take part in the Seder.

The Jewish holiday of Passover, which marks the freedom of the Jewish people from the rule of the Egyptian pharaoh, begins at sundown Monday and runs until April 5.

The Passover Seder is a ritual held at the beginning of Passover. The story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt is told with foods and stories. The word “seder” is Hebrew for “order,” which relates to the order of events during the evening.

Although the roughly 200 event tickets are sold out, people who want to come just to hear the rabbi and witness the service are welcome to any available seating, Clark said.

“It’s wonderful,” Caminker said. “It’s a milestone occasion in the life of this community when people can gather together just before the week of Passover and Easter holy week.

“We Jews will be affirming our beginnings as a people while our Christian brothers and sisters are affirming the Jewish roots from which their faith was born,” Caminker said.

Clark is also a member of the Catholic church’s New Beginnings group, which got the idea to invite the rabbi.

“I am so excited about it,” Clark said. “This rabbi will explain everything. It’s such a goodwill gesture. If we don’t have God in the world, forget it.”

Taking part in the event will be clergy and members from Temple Beth El, including Cantor Alan Cohn.

The church told Caminker, “We want a real Jewish Passover Seder,” Caminker said,

“The tables will all be set up for the Passover Seder with plates of all the ritual food items along with wine,” Caminker said.

“The goal of the evening is to try to promote our common Biblical roots,” said Bob Reddy, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Venice, which includes 56 parishes in 10 counties, including nine in Manatee and 10 in Sarasota.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.