This year, Jews and Christians celebrated together their liberation, the passage from slavery to freedom, from death to resurrection. In both traditions, this liturgical celebration continues for an entire week. Christians call these eight days the Octave of Easter. It is during these eight special days that the second NA4 session, our spring session, has just taken place.
In Jerusalem, very close to the old city, we were about twenty participants gathered every day for presentations in the morning and excursions in the afternoon. Many of the participants came from far away, others were religious or volunteers living in the Holy Land. In the festive atmosphere of the city, it was the Passover Seder and Christian Easter that were at the heart of these days.
On the first day, Fr. Olivier Catel o.p. introduced the session by presenting the biblical foundations of Jewish Passover.
Gad Barnea then presented the latest developments regarding the question of the date of the Last Supper relative to the Jewish Passover according to Jewish sources. At the end of a skillfully constructed presentation, we came to the necessary conclusion, namely that after a careful reading of the various narratives of the Last Supper in the Gospels, it is simply impossible to answer this question, and that it is precisely this intemporality that gives meaning to the event of the Eucharist: the time of the liturgy is beyond historical time, in today’s timeless salvation, and it is therefore appropriate that the Last Supper, the summit of the Christian year, cannot be precisely dated.
The next day, Gabriel Abensour brought Seder dishes, with the ritual foods consumed during this liturgical meal, which takes place in Jewish homes on the evening of the first day of Pesach. He made us enter in a very concrete way into the course of this meal, a memorial of the exit of Egypt, by describing to us the different traditions linked to this festival.
Then, it was Father David Neuhaus who spoke to us about God’s “covenant that is not revoked” with his people, opening up new perspectives on this subject.
After further interventions on the same subject on Sunday, Eliezer Schilt organised an interactive "hevrouta" Talmud lesson around a passage on Passover. We were invited, not to find the right answers to the questions implicit in the text, but the right questions to go deeper into the text.
In the afternoons, we went on excursions… To the Israel Museum, Bethlehem, Ein Karem or the Judaean Desert, to visit Qumran, Massada or Qasr el Yahud, the place of Jesus’ baptism.
These eight days of discovery and sharing between Jews and Christians confirmed our desire to continue these meetings, for the great pleasure of meeting to study and learn from each other.
This is what we will do again from August 11 to 18, to explore the theme of "the Messiah" in the Jewish tradition.
You are warmly invited!