US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Should Christians celebrate a Seder?

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Tonight we celebrate the Last Supper--the Seder of Jesus and his companions. Passover started Monday night at sundown and ends next Monday night.

As someone deeply interested in interfaith dialogue, I love the convergence of holidays at this time of the year. In fact, many Christians have started to host Seders in their churches. There's even a website called

There's something exciting about this phenomenon--Christians seeking to understand and appreciate Judaism, the roots of their faith--but I'm hesitant about church Seders as well.

I haven't been to many, but the only Seders I've been to have been with Jewish families and friends. I got to see what Passover and the various symbols of the Seder meal means to them.

Of course, I've had the benefit of having many Jewish friends, but not all Christians may meet many non-Christians with whom to have a dialogue. In some place, a "Christian Seder" may be the best option, but I would hope that we don't jump too quickly to the Christian story before sitting with what Passover has meant for the Jewish people over the centuries.

Perhaps this is why I don't know what to make of the "Obama Seder." It's amazing that this Christian president is the first to host a Seder in the White House. It's a tradition that started on the campaign trail in 2008 when Obama joined three low-level employees celebrating a Seder far from home and moved to the White House last year. It's an amazing plug for interfaith dialogue--and not just the dialogue of talking niceties.

But he's the president. It's the "Obama Seder" and not the "Seder attended by Obama." It seems appropriate that a Seder takes on new meaning depending on the participants and the year's events, but I would hope that the Seder isn't dominated by the president. After all, one of the key ingredients of interfaith dialogue is humility. (You can see in the picture that he sat in the middle of the table this year, while last year he sat at the head.)

I'm curious of other Catholics experiences with Passover: Have you participated in a Seder-either at church or with Jewish friends?