The Messiah and Elijah Walk into a Bar…
Passover and Easter Celebrations in New Orleans
This weekend brings major celebrations for two of the world’s religions – Passover in Judaism and Easter for Christian faiths. They coincide with a time of mourning for many. The loss of three century-old black churches in St. Landry Parish to fire at the hands of an arson suspect now charged with hate crimes; the burning of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes and vandalism of synagogues, including one in Mandeville last fall; and the terrible loss of 50 lives at a mosque from a terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand last month, are recent tragedies for religious people and the world at large.
But here in New Orleans, we specialize in recognizing the sadness and loss that accompanies the human experience, and we turn them on their head. Even when that loss is extremely personal, as it is with Chris Owens, who lost her companion of 25 years, Mark Davison, this week, and her sister, Burnelle Schmitz, in January, we don our finest Easter bonnets and remind ourselves that we are still here.
In that spirit, regardless of your choice of religious practice or non-practice, this weekend is a time of renewal and welcoming strangers to the table.
Friday, April 19 marks the beginning of Passover, the holiday that marks the liberation of Jewish people from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses. In my house, it’s also known as the holiday when we eat coconut macaroons and have a lively discussion of which plague was the best plague.
For those not able to have a Passover Seder at home or score an invitation to a friend’s house, a few public Seders are planned with friends you haven’t met yet. On Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m., Temple Sinai and JNOLA of the Jewish Federation are holding a free young professionals Seder that promises a home-style meal and a not-so-traditional Haggadah. It will be led by Rabbi Matthew Reimer and the wine and juice will be flowing. The free tickets are limited and RSVP is required. To attend, email Tana Velen at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will receive the location of the event and additional details.
Congregation Beth Israel is holding its community Seder on Saturday, April 20 at 8 p.m. Advance reservations are required. Member pricing is $36 for adults and $20 for children ages 6-13. Non-member pricing is $54 for adults and $36 for children ages 6-13. All children 5 and under are free. To RSVP, call the synagogue office at (504) 454-5080 or email RSVP@BethIsraelNOLA.com.
Temple Sinai will also host an interfaith Seder for the LGBTQ community on Tuesday, April 23 at 6 p.m. It will feature special queer readings and free dinner. Advance RSPV is required and can be made online.
For a listing of additional Seders and Passover services, click here.
To celebrate Easter, head to the French Quarter after your chosen Christian service on Sunday, April 21. The Chris Owens French Quarter Easter Parade will go on, even in light of her recent loss. The parade rolls at 1 p.m. from St. Louis and Royal streets and Ms. Owens will be handing out her stuffed bunnies and other treats.
The 20th Annual Gay Easter Parade will roll at 4:30 p.m. from Rampart and St. Ann streets in the French Quarter and promises to showcase the fashion and creativity of the entire LGBT community.