SALT LAKE CITY— Family members and faculty of Saint Vincent de Paul Parish and School held a family Seder on April 3, remembering that Jewish people have commemorated Passover with this meal since the time of Moses.
The ritual Passover feast recalls the freeing of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Jesus and his apostles celebrated a Seder meal at the Last Supper, which Catholics commemorate on Holy Thursday.
"More than 3,800 years ago people used to share this type of meal," said Monica Howa-Johnson, a member of the St. Vincent school board, which helped organize the Seder.
When Jewish people prepare this meal, it is a kind of thanksgiving celebration; they clean their houses, takeout their best china, and put on fancy clothes.
"They work hard for the meal, said Howa-Johnson, who presented the ceremonial plate, which is a large plate on which a boiled egg, a lamb shank bone, horseradish, parsley or celery and salt water in a small bowl are placed. For a traditional Seder, each table should have one ceremonial plate.
The table is covered with a white cloth. At the head of the table are three matzot (unleavened bread) covered with a napkin or a special ceremonial cover. A pillow is set at the back of one chair in which the leader of the Seder will sit, symbolizing the luxury of reclining at table, which the Hebrew slaves didn’t have. A pitcher of water, a bowl and towel for ritual washing are present as well.
"We also have a bottle of wine and grape juice for the kids on each table; every time that we are blessing and making a promise, people will raise their cups together," said Howa-Johnson, referring to the tradition of four promises and four cups, which is a reminder that God made four promises to Moses. "We remember these four promises at Passover as we drink four cups of wine," she said.
Mark Longe, principal of St. Vincent school, was in charge of the blessing of the wine as well as asking for God’s blessings.
"The cup is a symbol of joy. Let us drink this and be reminded of the joy which is ours as a result of our salvation…. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth," said Longe.
Candles also are lit during the Seder.
"The mother or woman of the house lights the candles as a representation of when Jesus was a boy growing up and Mary, who would have lit the candles for their Passover Seder," Howa-Johnson said.