Don Your Bonnet and Hide the Matzo

Celebrate Easter and Passover NOLA-style


Traveling during a religious holiday can be a challenge. For those who are observant, attending services at a place unknown can stir up feelings of being the new kid in class or the odd one out. Thankfully, here in New Orleans, we welcome the odd with open arms. We also take our religious holidays and celebrate them in some unorthodox ways. This weekend brings a convergence of two major religious holidays in the Jewish and Christian faiths – Passover and Easter.

Passover begins at sundown on Friday, March 30 and lasts until Saturday, April 7. It is a Jewish observance of their liberation by God from their slavery in Egypt and a celebration of their path to freedom, led by Moses. Special dietary laws are in effect (no leavened bread, Kosher for Passover designations) and a ceremonial dinner called a seder is held on at least one night, which in my family features a beloved uncle reading something called the Haggadah (the story of Passover) and taking special delight in the description of the Ten Plagues. Depending on the seder, it can be lively and filled with music and drinking ALL of the wine, or it can be subdued and holy. Thankfully, my father-in-law takes great pride in brevity and has perfected his Haggadah in both content and length. The sooner we’re done sharing the story of Passover, the sooner we can eat!

The two synagogues in New Orleans proper both host seders that are open to non-members. Touro Synagogue, located at 4238 St. Charles Ave., is holding its seder on Friday, March 30 with an abbreviated Kabbalat Shabbat Service and Mourner’s Kaddish at 6:00 p.m. followed by the congregational seder at 6:30 p.m. Reservations must be made in advance.

Temple Sinai, located at 6227 St. Charles Ave., is hosting three seders. An off-site 20s/30s seder will be held Friday, March 30 at 6:30 p.m. A second night seder at Temple Sinai is planned for Saturday, March 31. Then, on Tuesday, April 3 at 6:00 p.m., an LGBT interfaith seder will be held at the Temple. Each requires advance reservations.

If you don’t want the ceremony of the seder but are still craving matzo ball soup with a side of religious teaching, the New Orleans JCC is holding a special Passover Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Silver from Shir Chadash on Thursday, April 5 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at its Uptown location at 5342 St. Charles Ave. It is open to non-members but you must reserve your spot by Monday, April 2.

For those of you who celebrate Easter, a basic Google search of your particular Christian denomination will help guide you to services. As a Catholic (Bet you thought I was Jewish there for a minute! Blended families are the best!), I use to search for nearby masses when I travel. In New Orleans, you can hardly walk a block without seeing a Catholic church and of course each has their own personality. Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday will be bustling with seersucker and church hats.

Whether you practice a religion or have none at all, the best event to attend this weekend is the 35th Annual Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade on Sunday, April 1 at 1 p.m. It perfectly represents New Orleans – it’s a parade through the streets observing a Catholic high holiday, led by one of our most revered citizens, Ms. Chris Owens, an entrepreneur heralded for her business acumen, philanthropy and her talent for burlesque dancing. Do speculate as to her age (an impossible 86), don’t be caught on the route without a fancy hat or fascinator and a glass of champagne in your hand.

Chag Pesach kasher vesame’ach and happy Easter!



Categories: Tourism Biz